She was a 17-year-old art- and poetry-loving civil rights activist from Queens when she met the 20-year-old folk singer from Minnesota at an all-day folk concert at Riverside Church in Manhattan in the summer of 1961.
So began a four-year relationship with Bob Dylan that was immortalized on a wintery day in 1963 when photographer Don Hunstein captured the young couple walking down a snowy Greenwich Village street, Dylan's hands thrust in his pockets and Rotolo's hands wrapped snuggly around his arm.
Rotolo, who moved into a tiny apartment on West Fourth Street in the Village with Dylan when she was 18, is credited with introducing him to modern art and poetry, avant-garde theater and civil rights politics.
"You could see the influence she had on him," Sylvia Tyson, of Ian & Sylvia, recalled in a 2008 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "This is a girl who was marching to integrate local schools when she was 15."
Some rock historians, The Times' story noted, believe Rotolo inspired numerous Dylan songs, including "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and "Tomorrow Is a Long Time."