Ian Tyson, the Canadian folk singer, tells George Stroumboulopoulos that he is pretty sure he gave Bob Dylan his first puff of pot. From there, the story goes, Dylan passed a joint on to the Beatles — and the kaleidoscopic Sgt. Pepper wasn’t far behind.
Of course, this being Greenwich Village and (more particularly) this being the 1960s, Tyson has constructed this timeline with second-hand smoke — er, information.
Tyson says Suze Rotolo — the Dylan muse featured with him on the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan — actually confirmed the sequence of events. Rotolo was a close friend of Sylvia Fricker, Tyson’s wife through the mid 1970s. “She says that I turned Bob Dylan onto pot. Now I don’t remember that,” he said. “Of course, I don’t remember last week! … But if it is [true], Bob Dylan turned on the Beatles. And I turned on Bob Dylan. That makes me the king.”
The 80-year-old remains active, with touring dates scheduled through March across Alberta and even down to Nevada for the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering. And Tyson still treasures those long-ago days — what he can recall of them, anyway. “We were all there on MacDougal Street, and nobody had any money, but we had a lot of fun,” Tyson adds. “It was a good time. And there was a little weed floating around Greenwich Village at the time, and that was considered kind of exotic.”