October 2, 2013

Memoir by Bob Dylan confidante attracts worldwide interest


Bob Dylan.

A new book about Bob Dylan is sparking interest across the publishing world. Victor Maymudes served as Dylan’s confidante, friend, and tour manager from 1961 all the way through to 1988.  The two had a falling out around 2000, and Maymudes began his book soon after. According to Rolling Stone, he signed a six-figure deal with St. Martin’s Press and taped 24 hours of recollections soon after. But, soon after he began his memoir, he died suddenly of a brain aneurysm in 2001.

Publishers Weekly writes about what happened next:

His son Jacob, then 21, who personally removed the life support, was devastated, too broken to return to the project. Then, in January this year, the family home burned down, and among the very few items salvaged from the charred wreckage was a box containing the tapes: “Twenty-four hours of personal stories, philosophy, ideology and more importantly his voice had survived. That was my tipping point and I would decide in the months to come to finish his book,” writes Jacob in the introduction to the outline, seen by BookBrunch. He would do it “not for financial gain, not for vanity, for one simple reason: so I could show my kids who their grandfather was and the slice of history he had a had in.”

Jacob Maymudes went to Kickstarter to fund the project, but was eventually persuaded to sign with Adam Gauntlett of the U.K.-based agency Peters Fraser & Dunlop, who is now selling the project. As noted, St. Martins Press already holds North American rights, but the agency tells Publishers Weekly that eight UK publishers have expressed interest and noted particular excitement in France and Germany.

Publishers Weekly notes that many familiar names will be present in the book, Another Side of Bob Dylan, including Joan Baez, Dennis Hopper, and even Meg Ryan. According to the June Rolling Stone story that got Gauntlett’s attention, the book will be a thorough accounting of Dylan and Maymudes’ decades-long friendship.

The book will trace Victor’s entire history with Dylan. “My father met Dylan in New York at the [West Village] Gaslight club in early 1961,” says Jake. “He was managing Wavy Gravy and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott at the time. He was a concert promoter and entrepreneur. He was six years older than Bob and way into the counterculture scene. One of the reasons they got along so well is because my old man had a little bit of insight into this new world that Bob was kind of jumping into.”

Dylan had just arrived in New York when they met, a complete unknown – a 19-year-old singer on the coffee house scene. “Bob was literally just sitting in the back of the club typing on a typewriter,” says Jake. “The few people there knew he was something special. Since my dad was a manager, he went out of his way to potentially manage him.” Albert Grossman landed that job, but Victor stuck close by.

When Dylan began playing tiny gigs outside New York City, he brought Victor along with him. “My old man drove him around to coffee shops since nobody else had a car,” says Jake. “There wasn’t an official role, other than buddy.”

Dylan, though famously private, is no stranger to the world of memoirs. His own, Chronicles Volume One, was published in 2005 to overwhelming praise. A release date for Chronicles Volume Two has yet to be announced.

A book trailer for Maymudes’ book is here.


Victor Maymudes’ obituary can be read here.


Julia Fleischaker is the director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.