A onetime backup singer for Bob Dylan said last night that she was secretly married to the folk-rock legend for six years and that the two had a child together, who is now 15.
Gospel-rock vocalist Carol Dennis released the statement about her relationship with Dylan in the wake of a new biography on the singer, Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, which hit U.S. stores on Monday.
Previous biographies have referred to Dennis as Dylan's girlfriend, and it has not been widely known that he fathered a child by her. Dennis said she released the statement about the book, penned by British author Howard Sounes, to correct errors it contained.
She said that contrary to the impression left by Sounes' unauthorized biography, and subsequent press accounts, the decision to keep their marriage and their daughter out of the public eye was mutual, and for the child's benefit.
"Bob and I made a choice to keep our marriage a private matter for a simple reason — to give our daughter a normal childhood," Dennis' statement said.
She said they took advantage of a California law that allowed them to seal their marriage certificate from media attention to protect the family's privacy. For the same reason, she did not list Dylan as the father on Desiree's birth certificate.
Dennis said she and Dylan had agreed their daughter could opt take her father's last name when she became mature enough to make her own decision, and the girl chose to do so two years ago, and she is now called Desiree Gabrielle Dennis-Dylan.
"To portray Bob as 'hiding his daughter' is just malicious and ridiculous," Dennis said. "That is something he would never do. Bob has been a wonderful, active father to Desiree."
Dennis, who has also toured with such artists as Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, and gospel star Andre Crouch, was particularly angry about suggestions that Dylan was forced to perform extensively throughout the '90s to pay for a multimillion-dollar divorce settlement with her.
"To say that I got a huge settlement that forced Bob to do concert tours in the '90s is totally fictitious, irresponsible and hurtful," Dennis said.
Sounes, apparently, does not agree that the portrayal is a negative one.
"I don't think that this paints Dylan unfavorably," the author said. "He's an exceptionally good father, knows his daughter, and pays toward both Desiree and Carolyn's upkeep."
The famed singer-songwriter, who won an Oscar last month for his song "Things Have Changed," had a relationship with folk singer Joan Baez in the 1960s, before his first marriage, to Sara Dylan, which ended in divorce in 1977. They raised five children together — four of their own and a fifth child from a previous relationship of hers. Dylan, who turns 60 next month, has not commented on the book.
Reuters contributed to this report.