Dylan's 'lost' guitar that rock was invented on sells for €965k
Published 08/12/2013 | 02:30
The electric guitar played by Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival has been sold this weekend at auction in New York for a record €704,000 (US$965,000).
The Fender Stratocaster had been in the possession of a New Jersey family for 48 years after he left it on a plane.
The pilot's daughter had it authenticated on a television programme on US broadcaster PBS. The festival in Newport, Rhode Island, is often cited as the performance where Dylan "went electric".
Dylan's move "changed the structure of folk music", Newport Folk Festival founder George Wein, 88, said.
"The minute Dylan went electric, all these young people said, 'Bobby's going electric. We're going electric, too.'"
But at the time, the three-song set drew boos from the crowd, who had come expecting Dylan's traditional acoustic folk performance.
In truth, Dylan had gone electric well before the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Months earlier, he released the album Bringing It All Back Home, one side of which was electric. And the single Like a Rolling Stone came out just days before the festival.
But his performance at one of folk's biggest showcases – in front of some of the purest of folk purists – caused a sensation. Exactly what happened at the festival on July 25, 1965, has become shrouded in legend, and debate persists over whether those who booed were angry over Dylan's electric turn or were upset over the sound quality or the overly brief set.
Backed by a rock band that included Mike Bloomfield on guitar and Al Kooper on organ, Dylan played such songs as Maggie's Farm and Like a Rolling Stone. He returned for an acoustic encore with It's All Over Now, Baby Blue.
Legend has it that Pete Seeger, one of the elder statesmen of the folk movement, was so angry that he tried to pull the plug on the electric performance or threatened to cut the cable with an axe.
But years later, Seeger said he had nothing against Dylan going electric – he was upset over the distortion-filled sound system.
Dawn Peterson said on the PBS programme History Detectives that her father, the private plane's pilot, asked Dylan's management firm what to do with the guitar, but nobody ever got back to him. Experts matched the wood grain on the instrument with a close-up colour photo taken during Dylan's set at the festival. Recently, Dylan and Ms Peterson quietly settled a legal dispute over the instrument. Details of the settlement are not known.
Auction house Christie's had estimated the guitar would sell for $300,000-$500,000. The buyer has not been identified.
The previous record for a guitar sold at auction was a Fender owned by Eric Clapton, which sold at Christie's for $959,500 in 2004.