The Story of Bob Dylan, Billy Quinn, and "Factory Girl"

Gossip surrounding Bob Dylan and Edie Sedgwick

: American Pop artist Andy Warhol (1928 - 1987) sits next to actor Edie Sedgwick
Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick. Walter Daran/Getty Images

During his time in New York City in the mid-1960s, Bob Dylan spent some time at Andy Warhol's salon called The Factory. In 2006, a movie depicting the struggles of the model, actress, and Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick was released. Titled "Factory Girl," the movie found controversy well before its debut and it involved Bob Dylan.

While much of the story is simple celebrity gossip and drama, it does bring up the question: Who is Billy Quinn and what does he have to do with Bob Dylan? It's a quick little tale and a bit of music and movie trivia.

Bob Dylan, Billy Quinn, and "Factory Girl"

Leading up to the movie's release, the celebrity columns were filled with talk about Bob Dylan's feud with the film's producers. This left many fans of the folk singer wondering why. To answer the question, a little back story is required.

"Factory Girl" tells the story of model and socialite Edie Sedgwick's relationships with Andy Warhol and a character named Billy Quinn. According to a number of news reports at the time, the film originally featured a Bob Dylan character, who impregnates Sedgwick and then leaves her after she aborts the baby. She spirals out of control as a result, eventually dying of a drug overdose (she died in 1971).

Dylan contended all along that the story is simply not true and that the two were never an item. He also stood by the fact that he's not responsible for Sedgwick's downward spiral. Dylan's lawyers threatened a lawsuit for defamation, though this never came to fruition. 

The Bob Dylan character's name was changed to Billy Quinn, though the character clearly resembles a young Bob Dylan.

"Factory Girl" director, George Hickenlooper describes the character as "a hybrid of Dylan, Jim Morrison, Donovan." It's reported that Sedgwick actually had an affair with Dylan's friend, Bob Neuwirth who is not a character in the film. It's also believed that, if anything, she had a passing flirtation with Dylan.

None the less, in the film's credits the character is no longer listed as Billy Quinn. Instead, actor Hayden Christensen (most famous for playing Anakin Skywalker in "Star Wars: Episode II and III") is listed as playing "Musician."

The Gossip Began in the 60s

There is another connection between Dylan and Sedgwick, though. Many people who were around the scene at the time have said that Dylan's song "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" was inspired by Edie. It's also thought that she is the subject of "Just Like a Woman."

Reading through accounts of those who were around The Factory and saw Dylan and Sedgwick's relationship, it becomes clear that the gossip began early. Much of it may even be the fault of Warhol himself because he was known to be jealous.