The NYT today has a review of a new book on Dylan. It’s based on the recorded reminiscences of Victor Maymudes. He was one of Dylan’s earliest friends in the Village and later a key part of his entourage during the years of chaos that followed.

The two had lost touch, but when Maymudes ended up down and out Dylan eventually put him back on the payroll, and he eventually rose to be essentially his road manager on the Never Ending Tour—and later had a lot to do with Dylan’s real estate holdings. (The star is said to have a hobby in flipping houses.)

Maymudes died in 2001; the book, Another Side of Bob Dylan, was put together by his son Jacob, based on 24 hours of cassette recordings his father had made.

The Times story elides some of the more, ah, colorful aspects of Maymudes life. The rockiness of the relationship is described like this:

[Dylan] [b]rought him back even after an episode involving a teenage girl that led to Victor’s being fired as tour manager in 1995. Another star might have banished him. Instead, Mr. Dylan had Victor scout for and look after his real estate holdings. A quarrel over one property caused the final, acrimonious break in 1997.

There’s more to the story. Maymudes was not charged in the 1995 incident but he was detained by police. According to another new biography, Dylan, by former LA Times reporter Dennis McDougal, that property quarrel was not what estranged the two. McDougal reports that Maymudes exposed himself to a 17-year-old  cafe waitress, and that’s what led to his ultimate banishment.

I’m not sure whether to trust McDougal’s book. It’s irritatingly unsourced. On the other hand, it’s not just a clip job, and he’s a legitimate reporter who seems to have some good Southern California sources with knowledge of Dylan’s activities.

The Times story also doesn’t ask about what happened to the ill-tempered tell-all Maymudes promised almost 20 years ago. “I’m going to peel him like an onion,” he told author Howard Sounes in the late 1990s — and called Dylan an “asshole.” Maymudes also detailed his years of shuffling women around for the star —and bragged he himself had slept with 300 women just in the Hotel Chelsea!

It can’t have been easy working for Dylan. Early on, Maymudes was a quiet presence in Dylan’s chaotic world, always there to play a silent game of chess or Go with him.  Later, there’s circumstantial evidence Maymudes was on a shorter leash. At the beginning of the Never Ending Tour, Dylan was on the road with the Alarm, a very poor man’s U2 who had a few months of notice in the late 1980s. Here’s a story the lead singer recounts:

“There was this guy Victor Malmudes [sic] who was just Bob’s mate. We never were quite sure what he did. One day Bob didn’t come down for his usual swim. Victor said, ‘He’s got a bit of a cold.’ The next day we were by the pool and Bob comes down for a swim and Nigel Twist [Alarm drummer] said, ‘How are you feeling today, Bob?’ He goes, ‘What do you mean?’ Twist said, ‘Victor said you had a cold.’ Bob said, ‘Did he?’ and that was it. He carried on swimming. That evening Victor was sent home off the tour for giving away personal information. He was banished for three days, and then he came back.”


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