Bob Dylan’s (In)Famous Electric Guitar From the Newport Folk Festival Discovered?

On July 25, 1965, Bob Dylan returned to the Newport Folk Festival, now the headline act. The purist audience expected to hear some Dylan classics played with an acoustic guitar — something like “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.” They got anything but. Dylan traded in his Gibson acoustic guitar for a Fender Stratocaster, and began to bang out electrified versions of “Maggie’s Farm” and “Like a Rolling Stone” (see below). Pete Seeger, the folk icon, lost his cool and famously threatened, “If I had an axe, I’d chop the microphone cable right now.” The crowd booed (for reasons that some now interpret differently). Dylan abruptly left the stage, only to return with an acoustic guitar in hand. Later, during his 1965-66 world tour, embittered fans called him “Judas!”

Everything changed the moment Dylan went electric at Newport. Dylan’s own music, folk music, rock ‘n’ roll — they all moved in new directions. And the guitar at the center of the controversy, it went silent for almost five decades … until now. This week, the PBS program History Detectives aired an episode that tried to determine whether Dylan’s electric axe may have wound up in the hands of Dawn Peterson, the daughter of a pilot who flew planes boarded by Dylan and other folk musicians. The forensic evidence suggests that it’s the real deal. But Dylan, through his lawyers, insists that he’s still in possession of the history-making guitar. It’s another layer of controversy that began 47 years ago.

Related Content:

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Here Comes The Sun: The Lost Guitar Solo by George Harrison

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  • Grapost says:

    It’s amazing how cheap wealthy celebrities can be. If it is the Newport Guitar why not just give the woman $500,000 for it and be glad it has been found and that you can get it back.. That amount of money is pocket change to Dylan and the woman could sure use it. But he’ll probably do the stupid and greedy thing and spend $500,000 suing her to get it back, with the lawyers getting all the money.

  • Mark R says:

    As far as electric guitars go, this Dylan guitar has to be among the top five most valuable in the world. I guess Bob is the only person who really knows if he is still in possession of that particular instrument. The other part of the story here is that playing lead guitar for Dylan that day was perhaps the greatest American blues guitarist ever, Mike Bloomfield. Mikes electric guitar (which should also be included in that select group of five) was a Fender Telecaster.


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