Bob Dylan - On the rooftop of Hotel d'Europe - in Avignon, France - 1981. Photo by Howard Alk.
The front cover of the single "Series of Dreams."
The picture can be found on pages 54-55 of the brochure that comes with the box set for Bootleg Series - Volumes 1-3.
The photo was taken by Howard Alk, one of Dylan's longtime friends, who often accompanied Dylan on tours. He was also a camera man on Dylan's 1966 world tour and later worked with Dylan to edit the film, Eat the Document.
Here's the photo in the Bootleg Series brochure.
PopSpots Senior European Correspondent Marie Fotini recognized the towers behind Dylan as being from Avignon. Specifically, the one on the right was part of a church called Saint-Agricol; the one on the left was Avignon's City Hall.
Marie took the lead on the search because she lives in southern France and had actually gone to see Dylan play that night in Avignon. Small world!.
Here's a photo of the Church Tower of Saint-Agricol Church taken from the street by Marie on one of her travels to Avignon. (To find it on Google and/or Bing Maps, the address is 23 Rue Saint-Agricol, Avignon, France)
And here's an old drawing she found of the Avignon City Hall Tower. It still looks the same. (You can see it at: (Google Maps to: Hotel de Ville, Avignon, France)
From the position of the two towers in the background, Marie figured that Dylan was on the roof of a well-known hotel in the center of town called Hotel D'Europe.
This is a picture of the entrance to the Hotel d'Europe on Google Streetview. I've circled the hotel entrance. It's next to a small public square.
This is an overhead shot of the city square we just saw. The red arrow shows the entrance to the hotel.
In trying to find the roof where Dylan was, we had to figure out the size of the rambling hotel. It pretty much takes up the whole block, adding buildings over time. As we will see, it actually extends further to the right from where I guessed it ended on the right side in the photo, in this note to Marie.
From Flickr, we found some rooftop shots in a similar direction.
This is a picture from one of the rooms in the hotel, looking back down at the square we saw two shots ago. Notice how the roof tiles* match those Dylan was walking on. So we were getting closer. (*specifically, because of their semi-circular shape, they are called "barrel pan" or Roman tiles)
Here's another shot we found of the roof. We were looking for a deck with a roof directly adjacent to it.
And VOILA! We finally found one. (Viva la Google Images!)
Now we wanted to know where exactly that photo was taken on the roof of the hotel. So we looked back at the aeriel views.
Looking closely, we could see there was a courtyard off to the left.
And so, from an aerial view, we found the courtyard. Then, from there, we found the tiled roof next to it that Dylan would have been on.
To get to it, he would have had to climb over the wall of his suite's roof-deck.
So we put Bob on it. (Hope he's not burning his feet!)
Now let's look at it from another angle.
Let's say Bob invited you up to his roof deck that morning for coffee and beignets. The deck would have looked like this.
Bob would have jumped over the wall, maybe using the little fountain for a foot grip.
The scene would have looked like this.
This might have been part of the rest of the suite. The deck we were just on is right behind those flowerpots. The chien in the foreground is livin' in style..
We have looked the scene from many angles -- kind of like Picasso's famous portrait, "The Young Ladies of Avignon" (Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907)) about the town Dylan was in.
Maybe Bob had that picture in the back of his mind when he painted the Self Portrait cover.
Marie wrote to the operators of the hotel to confirm that Dylan had stayed there. They were kind enough to respond and even mentioned that Dylan had stayed in what is now suite 302. So, if you're ever in Avignon and feel like climbing the roofs, you know what room to ask for. (The letter has been translated from the French.)
Here's where Avignon is located in relation to Paris.
Dylan played Avignon on the night of July 25, 1981 in the Palais des Sports. It was the last concert of the 1981 European tour and it just so happens that Marie went to see it.
Here's one of Marie's shots from the concert.
During the afternoon before the concert, Marie and her husband were walking through the middle of Avignon and happened to see Dylan across the street.
Dylan was accompanied by several people, including one of his backup singers and his road manager, Howard Alk (at left, with beard). They had just walked out of a guitar store nearby. (Dylan is circled in red). The location was about 2 blocks from the hotel.
Here's the shot in close-up.
Here's a more focused picture of how Howard Alk and Dylan looked around 1981, since the candid shot is a little blurry.
And here's Dylan, with Clydie King, from a photo taken from a video (YouTube/"Let's Begin") of the Avignon concert.
The corner that Dylan was walking by is the intersection of the Place de l'Horloge and the Rue Saint-Agricol - which looks like this.
Here it is with Dylan and Howard Alk.
And here's a closer view. The wandering troubadour out looking for music shops in the glorious French sun. Au revoir!
ADDENDUM: WHERE DYLAN WENT ELECTRIC AT THE NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL. (from a future PopSpot)