4 Times Bob Dylan Went Accidentally Incognito in Public

Bob Dylan’s musical legacy is far-reaching, but that has little impact on whether or not people recognize him in public. For someone as famous as he is, there are a surprising number of stories about people who didn’t know who he was. Dylan, one of the more reclusive celebrities, likely doesn’t mind when this happens. Sometimes, though, not being recognized has gotten him into trouble. 

A black and white picture of Bob Dylan wearing sunglasses and sitting in front of a window.
Bob Dylan | Fiona Adams/Redferns

The musician confused his grandson’s class

In 2007, Dylan visited his grandson’s kindergarten class with his guitar and sang to the students. While his intentions were good, his identity as a recording artist was lost on the class. Per Page Six, students went home with reports of a “weird man” who came to the class to sing “scary” songs.  

Bob Dylan was never recognized by hitchhikers 

At the end of the 1970s, Dylan embraced Christianity in his music and personal life. 

“Jesus put his hand on me. It was a physical thing. I felt it. I felt it all over me,” he said, per the Independent, adding, “I felt my whole body tremble. The glory of the Lord knocked me down and picked me up.”

In his spare time, he liked picking up hitchhikers to talk about God. They reportedly never recognized him.

“Although he was one of the most well known musicians in the world, he was also the same as anyone who wanted to know more about God — full of eager questions and fresh excitement about his spiritual discoveries. He told us that he loved to pick up hitchhikers and tell them about Jesus,” Christian musician Melody Green wrote in the book No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green. “They never recognized him because they drove a beat-up old car and wore a knit ski hat over his famous curls.”

New Jersey police apprehended Bob Dylan after they failed to recognize him

In 2009, Dylan nearly got in trouble with the police because an officer didn’t recognize him. New Jersey homeowners called the police on him when he paused on their lawn, and the police didn’t believe he was Bob Dylan.

“I asked him what his name was and he said, ‘Bob Dylan,'” responding officer Kristie Buble told ABC News. “Now, I’ve seen pictures of Bob Dylan from a long time ago and he didn’t look like Bob Dylan to me at all. He was wearing black sweatpants tucked into black rain boots, and two raincoats with the hood pulled down over his head.”

She agreed to drive him back to his hotel so he could verify his identity. It came as a big surprise to her when he was able to do so.

He was nearly denied entry into his own concert

One of Dylan’s more frustrating cases involving a lack of recognition occurred at his own concert. He requested heightened security at a 2001 concert. Later, though, security stopped him because he didn’t have a backstage pass. Per Billboard, it wasn’t clear if the security guards realized he was the main act.

Dylan grew increasingly angry at the refusal, but the guards wouldn’t budge.

“He said no exceptions,” venue manager Chris Borovansky said. “Absolutely none.”

Luckily, Dylan eventually got through and played the show.

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