Spencer Leigh

Bob Dylan: Outlaw Blues

As Bob Dylan as prepares to play European dates including a mammoth concert with Neil Young in London’s Hyde Park on Friday July 12, McNidder and Grace is pleased to announce the publication next year of a major new biography of Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan’s past and present will be comprehensively detailed in Bob Dylan: Outlaw Blues, which will be published in October 2020, that is, in Bob Dylan’s eightieth year.

Bob Dylan: Outlaw Blues by Spencer Leigh promises a fresh take on this famous yet elusive personality, a one-man hall of mirrors who continues to intrigue his followers worldwide. It will be an in-depth account with new information and fascinating opinions, both from the author and his interviewees. Whether you like Dylan or not, we think you will be gripped from beginning to end by this remarkable tale, a true story which reads like fiction.

Despite his age, Bob Dylan still tours extensively. Famously known for not looking happy, what motivates him? “Journalists are very fond of saying Bob Dylan is an enigma,” says Spencer Leigh, “but that word is flawed. It’s as good as saying you don’t know. I have determined that I will not call Bob Dylan an enigma at any point in the book and I’m trying to find an answer for everything.”

Spencer Leigh is an acclaimed biographer and journalist who also presents his own weekly radio show, On The Beat, for BBC Radio Merseyside. McNidder and Grace has published seven books by him – a study of the Beatles’ recordings (Love Me Do To Love Me Don’t), the dramatic sacking of Pete Best (Best Of The Beatles), the day-to-day story of the world’s most famous club (The Cavern) and biographies of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Simon and Garfunkel, all of which remain in print. His biography of Buddy Holly: Learning the Game was published earlier this year.

Bob Dylan: Outlaw Blues is a true story, a story of the life of a man that intrigues his audience – both young and old. Most performers create their work for public approval, but at the centre of this book is a mercurial man who doesn’t trust his own audience. If he feels he is getting too much acclaim, he is likely to veer off in another direction. Inevitably, he has slowed down because of age, vocal restrictions and the ability to play a guitar, but he doesn’t want to be a nostalgia act and so is very different from Paul McCartney, Elton John or the Rolling Stones.

Spencer Leigh has spoken to over 300 musicians, friends and acquaintances of Bob Dylan for this book. It has not yet been completed but here are a few snippets to whet your appetite.


There was a wave of protest songs emanating from Greenwich Village. Buffy Sainte-Marie comments, “I saw what a lot of the songwriters were doing. They would get the New York Times in the morning and they would look for stuff to write songs about. It was a very commercial approach to writing protest songs but it can work.”


John Stewart from the Kingston Trio: “We were in New York and Dylan was the enfant terrible of the Village. He came into this bar called the Dug-Out where everybody would congregate. He was keeping very much to himself and would slink around. He had a single out, ‘Corrina Corrina’, and we were much aware of him and we knew his manager, Albert Grossman. He sent me a tape of some Dylan songs for the Trio to record. One of them was ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and I confess I sent it back. I said, ‘I have no idea what this guy is talking about.’”