Aug. 14, 2009 -- Talk about a complete unknown.
Bob Dylan was detained by police in Long Branch, N.J. last month, when a young officer failed to recognize him, police said. The officer proceeded to go to earnest lengths to ensure the hooded, disheveled, rain-soaked music legend was, in fact, who he said he was.
Dylan, 68, one of the most celebrated, eccentric artists in American history, was in the area on July 23 as part of a national concert tour -- a fact lost on 24-year-old Long Branch police officer Kristie Buble.
To hear the young New Jersey police officer describe it, the scene was like something out of one of Dylan's epic songs: It was pouring rain, Dylan was soaked and wandering alone, far from the traveling home of his entourage of tour buses.
When Dylan wandered into the yard of a home that had a "For Sale" sign on it, the home's occupants became spooked by his appearance and called police with a report of an "eccentric-looking old man" in their yard, Long Branch Police said. One of the occupants even went so far as to follow Dylan as he continued on down the street.
A publicist for Dylan who was on his way to a Dylan concert in Fresno, Calif., told ABCNews.com he had not heard the story, but would look into the incident.
But Buble said the man told her he was Bob Dylan.
"We got a call for a suspicious person,'' Buble said. "It was pouring rain outside, and I was right around the corner so I responded. By that time he was walking down the street. I asked him what he was doing in the neighborhood and he said he was looking at a house for sale."
"I asked him what his name was and he said, 'Bob Dylan,' Buble said. "Now, I've seen pictures of Bob Dylan from a long time ago and he didn't look like Bob Dylan to me at all. He was wearing black sweatpants tucked into black rain boots, and two raincoats with the hood pulled down over his head.
"So I said, 'OK Bob, what are you doing in Long Branch?' He said he was touring the country with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp. So now I'm really a little fishy about his story. I did not know what to believe or where he was coming from, or even who he was.
"We see a lot of people on our beat, and I wasn't sure if he came from one of our hospitals or something," Buble said.
She asked for identification, but Dylan said he had none. She asked where he was staying and he said his tour buses were parked at some big hotel on the ocean. Buble said she assumed that to be the nearby Ocean Place Conference Resort.
"He was acting very suspicious,'' Buble said. "Not delusional, just suspicious. You know, it was pouring rain and everything."
'That's Not Bob Dylan'
Following her police training, Buble said she indulged him.
"OK Bob, why don't you get in the car and we'll drive to the hotel and go verify this?' " she said she told him. "I put him in the back of the car. To be honest with you, I didn't really believe this was Bob Dylan. It never crossed my mind that this could really be him."
Buble made small talk on the ride to the hotel, asking her detainee where he was playing, she said, but never really believing a word he said.
"He was really nice, though, and he said he understood why I had to verify his identity and why I couldn't let him go," Buble said. "He asked me if I could drive him back to the neighborhood when I verified who he was, which made me even more suspicious.
"I pulled into the parking lot," she said, "and sure enough there were these enormous tour buses, and I thought, 'Whoa.'"
Her sergeant met her at the hotel parking lot.
"I got out of my car and said, "Sarg, this guy says he's Bob Dylan,'" Buble said. "He opened the car door, looked in, and said, 'That's not Bob Dylan.'"
"So we go over to the tour bus and knock on the door and some guy answers and I say, 'Are you missing someone?'"
"Who's asking?'' came the reply, according to Buble.
"I was in full uniform, so I say, 'I'm asking! I'm the police.'"
Eventually, the police were shown Dylan's passport, which Buble said she looked at, saw the legend's name, and rather sheepishly handed it back to Dylan's manager.
"OK,'' she recalled saying as she smiled. "Um, have a nice day."
A police department source said Buble had taken her share of good-natured ribbing from some of the older officers.
"To really appreciate the story from our end, you have to see Kristie," one cop said. "She looks like a 16-year-old kid, next to this living legend. It was unbelievable."
In fairness to Buble, Dylan has a long history of intentionally seeking anonymity, often with hooded sweatshirts and other limited disguises.
In October, 2001, he was held up at a checkpoint at Jackson County Exposition Center in Oregon as he attempted to get into the backstage area of his own concert, according to the Associated Press.