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Lay Off Dylan's 'Tarantula,' Lawyers Tell 'Straight'

Underground paper publishes pieces of Dylan's novel without his permission

Bob Dylan
Jan Persson/Redferns
December 7, 1968

New York — Bob Dylan's lawyers have demanded that the Canadian underground newspaper The Georgia Straight cease and desist unauthorized publication of Bob Dylan's once-upon-a-time novel, Tarantula. The Vancouver tabloid had been serializing portions of the unpublished work, and it had been picked up and published by other underground newspapers in the United States.

Tarantula was to have been published two years ago by Macmillan in book form; however, displeased with the work, Dylan declined to have it published or finish work on it after it had neared the final proofs stage. Since that time, xerox copies of xerox copies of page proofs have been floating around, although not generally available.

Dylan's lawyers said in a letter to The Georgia Straight:

"It has come to our client's attention that your publication has printed excerpts from the said literary property without any authorization whatever. We hereby demand that you forthwith cease and desist from any further publication thereof. . . . Moreover, in view of the apparent fact that the publication of Tarantula by you has caused and may be so presently causing other publications to do the same thing, we hereby demand that you notify all such publications to cease and desist from any further conduct violative of Mr. Dylan's rights."

The Georgia Straight editoralized that they had, by their unauthorized publication of the unfinished manuscript, "freed a revolutionary work of art from the death-grip of a few money-grubbing corporate zombies in New York . . . the Straight would like to challenge these laws which make a valuable piece of writing the exclusive property of a gang of crooks and liars-lawyers."

In its revolutionary zeal, the Straight neglected to find out that the work is the property of Bob Dylan and it was Dylan himself who caused it not to be published, as is the artist's prerogative. On the other hand, it may be the prevalent view that Dylan is indeed one of the "money-grubbing corporate zombies in New York" as well as a member of "a gang of crooks and liars."

Moral: The so-called revolution, at least as interpreted by The Georgia Straight, apparently has no sensitivity to, and even less regard for, artists and their work.

Daily Variety, the show biz weekly, has reported that Ashley Famous Agency, the booking agency with which Bob Dylan's manager Albert Grossman is affiliated, is offering a Dylan concert to promoters for a guarantee of $50,000 against a percentage of the gross receipts.

Grossman has turned down offers on this scale during the past year, despite the success of tours by other top rock acts such as Cream. The offer on the part of Ashley Famous may be part of a campaign of theirs and Grossman's to convince Dylan that a major tour could be arranged, one which would be very highly successful in terms of money. Dylan's concerts in the past have been booked by his own firm, Ashes and Sand, rather than private promoters. Promoters are now talking about a ten-city tour with the possibility of adding more dates, according to Variety.

Greta Garbo may also come out of retirement to do a series of personal appearances. The Swedish film star who wanted only "to be alone" after continued press invasions of her life is rumored to be considering a series of lavish stage shows, possibly with Dylan, but only "in the best of taste."

This story is from the December 7th, 1968 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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