Dylan's Distortion of the Facts in "Hurricane"
is Appalling, Irresponsible and Wrong

He failed to do his homework, and good people suffer as a result

NEW! See Carter's getaway route on YouTube!


How Dylan's Song "Hurricane"
Murders the Truth

What's good is bad, what's bad is good

The lyrics are all over the Internet, but only here do you get the other side of the story.  

"The record is inaccurate and untrue. I wonder what Bob Dylan would write if he had been at the bar that night."

-- Al Bello (left) to Cal Deal, 1976. Bello is the person who identified Carter an Artis as the gunmen.
Click here for more.

"You ... cover up the truth with lies."

Pistol shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall.
She sees the bartender in a pool of blood,
Cries out, "My God, they killed them all!"

Mr. Dylan takes poetic license with the facts throughout the song, particularly in his descriptions of what people said and did. His quotes are not real (according to the real "Miss Patty Valentine," who was interviewed for this report).

Valentine could not see the bartender. His body was behind the bar. (See photo)

Read Pat Valentine's 1967 trial testimony in full! PDF file.

Here comes the story of the Hurricane,
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin' that he never done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.

The "somethin' that he never done" line fails the accuracy test. [See "Carter Guilty" headline that appeared a year after this song came out]

Could-a been the champ? His record was 7-7-1 in 1965-'66 and getting worse each year.
Ring Magazine says Carter's career is going down the tubes. Article published two months before the murders.
View his boxing record for 1965-'66.

Three bodies lyin' there does Patty see
And another man named Bello, movin' around mysteriously.
"I didn't do it," he says, and he throws up his hands
"I was only robbin' the register, I hope you understand.
I saw them leavin'," he says, and he stops
"One of us had better call up the cops."
And so Patty calls the cops
And they arrive on the scene with their red lights flashin'
In the hot New Jersey night.

Mr. Dylan's imagination is running wild again.

It was four months later when Bello admitted to police that he had taken cash from the register. See report from October 1966

Bello DID NOT step over bodies to go steal money from the cash register. He went to the register to get a dime to call police and took an extra $60 in cash -- which he fully admitted at trial. Yes he stole it; no, that was not his reason for going to the register. [Read his taped statement]

Pat Valentine said on 1/12/00 that none of this exchange between her and Bello actually happened.

BOTH Bello and Valentine called the cops. Bello was so rattled while he was on the phone that he couldn't remember what street the bar was on and ran outside to look for a sign. He couldn't find it -- even though it was right there on the corner. [Read his taped statement about the phone call]

Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are drivin' around.
Number one contender for the middleweight crown
Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down

NEW! (11-06) Now you can ride along on Carter's getaway route using YouTube. See for yourself where he was pulled over ... just minutes from the murder scene, not "far away in another part of town," as Dylan wrote. Click here

Dylan's language implies that it was a casual drive, but prosecutors believe that after the shootings Carter rendezvoused with accomplices, dumped the guns at an apartment and was trying to get home when he was first stopped by police, as the map shows. Also see getaway graphics on main page and the YouTube video of the getaway route.

Carter admitted he was only a few blocks away just before the murders, in a bar called the Nite Spot. [SEE Carter's hangout AND the murder scene in one photo!] -- [See map of getaway route.]


Number One Contender??? Carter was No. 3 in May 1965, but just 10 months later he had fallen to No. 9, according to "Ring" magazine. That last ranking was published in May of 1966, the month before the murders. "Ring" said Carter's hopes for a crack at the middleweight title were dead.

View "Ring's" 1966 article about Carter's fading career.

Carter's record was a dismal 7-7-1 in 1965 and 1966.

Ring Magazine's rankings for Carter:

  • 1962: Unranked
  • 1963: No. 3 contender
  • 1964: No. 3 contender
  • 1965: No. 5 contender
  • 1966: Unranked

(The champion is on top of the rankings, then comes the No. 1 contender and so on.)

When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road
Just like the time before and the time before that.
In Paterson that's just the way things go.
If you're black you might as well not show up on the street
'Less you wanna draw the heat.

This is the first of several verses in which Dylan uses racism over reason in an attempt to discredit those who prosecuted Carter. His use of racism is coupled with generalizations that don't address the facts. Well, that's just the way things go.

No act of racism by prosecutors has ever been documented.

The judge who freed Carter said the use of the racial revenge theory, which calls the murders retaliation for the earlier killing of a black man, appealed to "racism over reason." But the jury that convicted Carter in 1976 had two voting black members, and a black legislator (working with a black investigator) who examined the case for the N.J. governor said racial revenge was the only plausible explanation for the murders. See Hawkins report.

On the day of the murders, press reports raised the possibility of racial revenge. See end of article.

Carter's car was pulled over because it matched the description of the getaway car — perfectly. See car graphic.

Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the cops.
Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowlin' around
He said, "I saw two men runnin' out, they looked like middleweights
They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates."

Bello did not admit the attempted burglary until months later when he gave a full statement about what he saw that night. [Read that portion of statement] (Bello and Bradley were near the murder scene to break into a sheet metal company.)

[Bello explains why he kept his mouth shut for four months in this police report]

The quote is made up, and the description of the car was much more precise because it included the distinctive butterly taillights. It was so precise that two police officers immediately recognized Carter's car from the description because they had pulled it over minutes before. [See car graphic][See Prosecutor's brief]

And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head.
Cop said, "Wait a minute, boys, this one's not dead"
So they took him to the infirmary
And though this man could hardly see
They told him that he could identify the guilty men.
This implies that Valentine just went along with the racist conspiracy when in fact she too described the getaway car, its distinctive taillights, and its out-of-state plates. Within an hour of the crime, she positively identified Carter's car as the killers' getaway car. [See Valentine's 2000 statement][See Prosecutor's brief]
Four in the mornin' and they haul Rubin in,
Take him to the hospital and they bring him upstairs.
The wounded man looks up through his one dyin' eye
Says, "Wha'd you bring him in here for? He ain't the guy!"

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Two cops stopped Carter's car just 10 minutes after the murders and let him go. Minutes later, after getting a detailed description of the killers' car, those cops realized Carter's car fit the description and went looking for it. They found it -- with Carter and Artis inside -- just 30 minutes after the murders. THAT is how Carter got caught. See map[See Prosecutor's brief]

He ain't the guy?! The wounded man, Willie Marins, made no such statement. He said "I don't know." [See graphic] [See clipping]

Marins was too scared to identify Carter publicly, but privately he told his brother and two friends that it was Carter and Artis who did the shooting. (See news story.)

Significantly, Marins NEVER SAID it was NOT Carter and Artis. Carter reports that fact in his own book on Page 329. See story.

Four months later, the ghettos are in flame,
Rubin's in South America, fightin' for his name
While Arthur Dexter Bradley's still in the robbery game
And the cops are puttin' the screws to him, lookin' for somebody to blame.
"Remember that murder that happened in a bar?"
"Remember you said you saw the getaway car?"
"You think you'd like to play ball with the law?"
"Think it might-a been that fighter that you saw runnin' that night?"
"Don't forget that you are white."

This is made up and another irresponsible attempt to discredit by using racism without facts. The quotes are all made up.

The cops had no need to put the screws to Bradly because his partner Bello had already identified Carter by name. See graphic.

After Bello gave his statement, detectives went to interview Bradley — who was 75 miles away in a reformatory and therefore could not have coordinated stories with Bello. During the interview, Bradley was afraid to identify Carter while a guard was present, but said the killer "has many fans" and said his initials are "R.C.," [Read the detectives' report] Bradley's full statement about the events of that night matched Bello's.

Arthur Dexter Bradley said, "I'm really not sure."
Cops said, "A poor boy like you could use a break
We got you for the motel job and we're talkin' to your friend Bello
Now you don't wanta have to go back to jail, be a nice fellow.
You'll be doin' society a favor.

This is all made up.

Bradley was already IN jail (a reformatory) when he was approached by detectives. 

According to the investigating detectives' report: "The guard went out of the room for a short period and Bradley said the he saw Rubin Carter come around the corner with what he thought was a rifle. ... Bradley confirmed the story told to us by Alfred Bello." Read the report (same page as in preceding graph)

That sonofabitch is brave and gettin' braver.
We want to put his ass in stir
We want to pin this triple murder on him
He ain't no Gentleman Jim."

Dylan is again trying to discredit police by attributing their actions to racism without citing facts.

I think the "braver" line is an allusion to Carter's comments in the Saturday Evening Post about shooting cops. See story. Carter blames the story for bringing the cops down on him — but then, he blames others for virtually everything bad that ever happened to him.

Gentleman Jim was a famous white boxer.

Rubin could take a man out with just one punch
But he never did like to talk about it all that much.
It's my work, he'd say, and I do it for pay
And when it's over I'd just as soon go on my way
Up to some paradise
Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice
And ride a horse along a trail.
But then they took him to the jailhouse
Where they try to turn a man into a mouse.

Noooo — he liked to talk about punching out horses. See story. And shooting at people. See story.

Paradise? Trout streams? Nice air? Oh c'mon, Bob! He left his wife at home and was hanging around and drinking in Paterson bars that night. He spent so much time at the Nite Spot he had a special table.

This is a lame attempt to portray Carter — who was convicted of beating and robbing people before he became a convicted murderer — as a nature-loving man of peace. Funny. And sad. [See page about the Content of Carter's Character page]

Months after Dylan released this song, Carter beat up a woman who was the leader of the "Free Carter" campaign in New Jersey. [See Prosecutor's Brief.] [See news story from 1976.]

All of Rubin's cards were marked in advance
The trial was a pig-circus, he never had a chance.
The judge made Rubin's witnesses drunkards from the slums
To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum

"Marked in advance?" Ah, the police conspiracy. Doesn't it strike you as odd that no credible evidence of a conspiracy has been revealed in over 35 years? Has Carter team ever taken their conspiracy allegations to higher authorities? Has Carter ever sued? No.

Pig-circus = police slur. Another attempt to discredit by generalizing without facts.

The judge made them out to be drunkards from the slums? That's news to me. That alone would have been grounds for a new trial. [The judge did ask one drunken witness how many drinks he had consumed before testifying.]

Revolutionary? Will someone please fill me in on Rubin Carter's civil rights achievements? I am aware of none — except his claim to have turned down Dr. King when King allegedly asked him to join a march. All the black leaders Carter claims to have been friends with are dead (King, Malcolm X, Steve Biko). Does that tell you anything? ($100 REWARD for a clipping that proves Carter's civil rights claims.)

And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger.
No one doubted that he pulled the trigger.
And though they could not produce the gun,
The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed.

No guns were needed to get a conviction. Two trials proved that.

The jury that convicted Carter in 1976 had two blacks. Of course, that trial occurred after this song was written.

Prosecutor Burrell Ives Humphreys, the man who at the 1976 trial said Carter "did the deed," was a civil rights activist and a member of the NAACP. He was about as far from being a racist as a white guy can get. See excerpts from 1967 interview.

Rubin Carter was falsely tried.
The crime was murder "one," guess who testified?
Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
And the newspapers, they all went along for the ride.

Bello and Bradley baldly lied? They were interviewed separately and had not seen each other in months, yet they told the same story about that night. Other witnesses corroborated parts of their stories. See graphic.

Newspapers went along for the ride? Here's another pathetic attempt to discredit without offering a shred of facts. When this song was being written, my paper was printing "the other side of the story," which showed why Carter was guilty. Carter's team didn't like that. [Now you can read local newspaper coverage of Carter's 1967 trial. More than 50 actual clippings!]

If Dylan had adhered to the standards of ethics and accuracy that are followed by good newspaper reporters, this would be a much different song.

How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool's hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.

I take this to be a shot at Lt. DeSimone, by all accounts a decent, honest and sensitive man, and not a racist. [See graphic.] [See his obituary.] [See testimonial dinner program] The attacks in this song were very hurtful to DeSimone and his family.

His boss was also a very ethical man. See excerpts from 1967 interview (same as two blocks above).

Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell.
That's the story of the Hurricane,
But it won't be over till they clear his name
And give him back the time he's done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.


Copyright © 1975 Ram's Horn Music

People have received millions of dollars for being falsely imprisoned. So why hasn't Rubin Carter sued?

Could-a been a champion? More likely he could-a been a Quadruple Murderer.


Bottom line ... it's a great song if you just ignore the words.

– Cal Deal (e-mail)


  • NUMBER ONE CONTENDER? No way!! Carter's boxing career was dying when the murders occurred, according to a 1966 boxing magazine. Click here
  • "MISS PATTY VALENTINE" IS UPSET. Read her February 2000 statement about the murders and the movie. Click here.
        PLUS: Valentine identifies Carter's car!
          Read her personal copy of her very first statement to police. Page 1 -- Page 2.
  • CARTER BEATS UP A HELPLESS WOMAN (1976) [Click here] — Afterward...
         • Dylan fails to show up at Carter's trial. Click here
         • Dylan stops performing "Hurricane" Click here.
  • FOOLING THE PUBLIC: Dylan & Carter fake "behind bars" photo (right)  for Carter's 1975 public relations campaign. Click here
  • DYLAN'S ONE-SIDED INVESTIGATION makes columnist question his judgment. Click here
  • How the Movie Misled YOU!! Graphics document key points.
  • EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS! Dylan's Prison Concert! (12/75) Click here
         • Color photo Click here
  • "Hurricane" lyrics — rewritten by an Illinois high school student -- Click here

 "I had come to an entirely erroneous conclusion which shows, my dear Watson, how dangerous it always is to reason from insufficient data."  - Arthur Conan Doyle


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