Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were longtime collaborators, but their relationship extended beyond only the professional. The pair dated for several years and continued their friendship after the romance between them fizzled out. Despite their amicable relationship after the split, Dylan regretted the way he ended things with Baez. Decades later, Dylan expressed his remorse.
Joan Baez helped get Bob Dylan exposure early in his career
By the time Dylan began performing in 1961, Baez was already an established star. After they met, she frequently invited him on stage with her at her concerts.
“We could sing anything together. In fact, a lot of times in bed, I’d hear her voice,” Dylan said in the documentary Rolling Thunder Revue, per USA Today. “Joan is so courageous. She always seems like she’s just come down from a meteor.”
Baez felt similarly about her collaborator.
“I was crazy about him,” she said, per the Toronto Star. “We were an item and we were having a wonderful time.”
They dated until 1965.
He later apologized for the way he behaved at the end of their relationship
Toward the end of their relationship, Dylan’s fame had eclipsed Baez’s. He invited her on a tour of Europe in 1965 but failed to bring her onstage as she had for him. Baez didn’t need the boost in popularity, but she didn’t appreciate his callous dismissal. The couple ended their relationship during the tour. That same year, Dylan married Sara Lownds.
The former couple remained friends, despite Baez’s disappointment. A 1984 tour delivered a blow to that friendship, though. Baez was promised equal billing, but her name was much smaller on the poster. Dylan also didn’t invite her out nearly as much as she expected. After multiple shows passed with no invitation on stage, Baez decided to quit the tour.
When she informed Dylan, he reportedly started complimenting her figure and touching her legs. Baez stopped him from touching her, said goodbye, and left.
Though Dylan rarely commented on his relationship with Baez, he eventually apologized for the way he treated her.
“I feel very bad about it,” Dylan said in 2009. “I was sorry to see our relationship end.”
It’s not clear if Baez accepted the apology. The year after his apology, at the White House’s Civil Rights concert in 2010, she didn’t even attempt to speak with him.
“The chances of him just walking past me would be too awful a scenario,” she said, per Rolling Stone. “It would just bring up feelings that aren’t necessary.”
Joan Baez wrote about Bob Dylan long after their breakup
In 1972, seven years after their breakup, Baez wrote a song directly to Dylan. The song “Dear Bobby” called on Dylan to step back into the public eye and begin writing protest songs again. Though he rose to fame writing protest songs, he had moved almost entirely away from the genre.
In 1975, Baez also wrote the sign “Diamonds and Rust” about her personal relationship with Dylan.