Easy Suzie’s tales of hard living with Dylan
07 August 2007
My old friend Easy Suzie, a veteran from the Sixties, has been in touch. She is, as she puts, it “freaking out big-time, man”. Suzie was a legend 40 years ago, she tells me. In her prime, she was known as “the Magic Roundabout” because more or less everyone in the rock community got a ride, and since about 1982 she has been trying to sell her memoirs Lay Lady Lay – Getting It On with Bob, Jimi and Mama Cass.
Now, to her rage, Pattie Boyd has beaten her to it. Having been married to George Harrison and Eric Clapton, Boyd is telling her story in a memoir to be published later this month. “Pattie was no one!” Suzie screams down the telephone. “Where was she when The Troggs played Andover? Does she even know the names of Freddie’s Dreamers? Has she been out with Dozy of the 1966 supergroup Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich? Of course not. She was just a jumped-up dolly bird.”
Nervously, I agreed to let her summarise her story in the hope that a brave a publisher might be interested.
“It was 1965 and the heady scent of freedom was in the air. I was just a skinny teenager with the classical good looks, high cheek-bones and long legs that were all the rage at the time.”
I realised that Suzie was actually reading her memoirs but it was too late to stop her.
“London was a party – the Kings Road, Carnaby Street, Granny Takes a Trip – but, although I had had a few offers, I had never really discovered love until I came across a shaggy-haired, reedy-voiced guy strumming a guitar at the Troubadour.”
“No, it was a bloke called Trevor. But he knew where Bob Dylan was staying. Later that night, he took me to Bob’s hotel and I knocked on his door. After a few moments the door opened to reveal a typical Sixties scene – everyone was asleep! For a moment, Dylan stood there, with that famous sleepy expression on his face. Then he came out with a classic line which I’ll remember for the rest of my life. ‘Who the fuck are you?’ he said, and closed the door in our faces. Nothing was ever quite the same after that.”
“Susie, publishers are tough people. They want a little bit more than a meeting with Bob Dylan at the door of his hotel room.”
“From that point, I became one of the beautiful people. I was a revolutionary, sure, but my revolution was a gentle, giving thing which involved spreading love around in the way I knew best. I became one of the so-called ‘backstage chicks’. Some of my rock musician friends took to referring to me as Easy Suzie – I think it was because I’m one of those people who is really easy to talk to.”
“Who in particular did you, er, talk to?”
“A hell a lot of the great songs of the time were inspired by me. I once hung out overnight with the Troggs’ bass guitarist – or maybe it was the drummer. At one point, I told him that he made everything groovy. Sure enough, soon afterwards, they used my line in their hit ‘Wild Thing’.”
“Were you what they called a groupie?”
“I was a free spirit. Until the love revolution came along, there was a lot of negativity in the world. I fought that negativity by never ever saying ‘no’.”
“What was your most enduring memory of those years?
“Well 1967, the Summer of Love, was a very busy time for me, as you would expect – I was hardly on my feet all year. I had been to LA, inspiring the Beach Boys’ ‘I Get Around’, then I came back to play the zing (a Moroccan instrument, like the triangle, only smaller) on the ‘All You Need Is Love’ session. The rest of the year I spent in bed, getting it on and just doing my thing. It was a beautiful time – by the end of the summer, the smell of love was truly in the air.”
“I can imagine.”