Was the Violinist for Bob Dylan’s Album Desire Hired Right Off of the Streets?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about music and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the music urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: The violinist for Bob Dylan’s album, Desire (as well as the accompanying tour), was hired off of the street.

Folks tend to love stories of people being plucked from the streets from obscurity and made a “star,” but they’re almost all made-up stories, the inventions of PR flacks.

The story of Scarlet Rivera, though, is as odd as it is true.

In 1975, Bob Dylan was getting set to record his latest album.

One day, while driving in New York City with a female acquaintance (Named Sheena – she played tambourine and congas on the album), Dylan was struck by an attractive woman walking down the street carrying a violin case. Dylan asked her to come into the car. She eventually agreed and Dylan took her to his apartment and began playing her a new song he had just written called “One More Cup of Coffee.”

She played her violin along with the tune and Dylan hired her on the spot.

The woman was named Scarlett Rivera, and she played violin on Dylan’s album, Desire.

She also went on the famous Rolling Thunder Revue tour with Dylan and his band.

Rivera has gone on to have a long and notable career in music. Here’s a more recent photo of her…

But for once, at least, a person actually WAS picked off of the streets to become a star (of sorts)!

The legend is..


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

3 Responses to “Was the Violinist for Bob Dylan’s Album Desire Hired Right Off of the Streets?”

  1. I actually owned her first solo album. Unfortunately, it had been remaindered. I believe that first photo is the cover.

    The Rolling Thunder Review was probably the best concert I’d ever seen.

  2. Donald Riviere jr on May 8th, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    Did she also play onThe Hurricane. If so i applaud her beçause her violin playing really gave the song a even more serious tone !!

  3. Brian Cronin on June 9th, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    She did, yes.

Leave a Reply