‘That makes me the king’: Bob Dylan turned the Beatles onto pot; but who turned Dylan on?

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.”


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