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Bob Dylan’s Newport Folk Festival Guitar Discovered?

Bob Dylan
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

A 1964 sunburst Fender Stratocaster believed to be used by Bob Dylan when he “went electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival has appeared nearly 47 years after the famous event. If it is genuine, it is believed to be worth up to $1 million.

The guitar’s owner, Dawn Peterson, inherited the guitar from her father, a pilot who worked at the time for Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman. Apparently, three guitars were left on a plane following a concert and never reclaimed by their owners. One of the guitar cases also contained 13 pages of song lyrics.

She contacted the PBS show ‘History Detectives’ to help verify its ownership. The show’s producers brought in vintage instrument expert Andy Babiuk to compare it to photos of Dylan’s performance at Newport. “The more I looked, the more they matched,” he said. “The rosewood fingerboard has distinct lighter strips. Wood grain is like a fingerprint. I’m 99.9 percent sure it’s the guitar – my credibility is on the line here.” The episode will air Tuesday (July 17) at 9PM Eastern.

However, Dylan’s attorney said via statement that his client owns the Newport guitar, and that several of his Stratocasters were stolen at the time.

On July 25, 1965, Dylan took to the stage at the Newport Folk Festival where, two years earlier, his triumphant acoustic set led to his rise on the folk scene. Here, with Al Kooper and members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, he made it through three songs ‘Maggie’s Farm,’ ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and ‘It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry’ before leaving the stage to the negative reaction from the crowd. Opinions differ as to whether the booing was due to the poor sound quality or the idea that he “betrayed” folk by playing rock n’ roll. Dylan was eventually coaxed back to the stage, where he sang ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ acoustically.

Next: Learn More About Bob Dylan's Next Album

 

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