Bob Dylan’s Newport Guitar Mystery
On July 25, 1965 Bob Dylan headlined the Newport Folk Festival with some of the greatest folk singers in the world. After seeing great folk singers like Pete Seeger and others, Dylan walked on stage without his trademark Gibson acoustic guitar. He walked over and plugged in a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar in an amp and instead of playing”Blowing in the Wind”, he blew the world away.
Pete Seeger was so mad at Dylan he said, “if If I had an axe, I’d chop the microphone cable right now.” The audience listened to an electric version of “Maggie’s Farm” and “Like A Rolling Stone” and booed the great Bob Dylan off the stage. Although Dylan did come back on stage with a acoustic guitar, in this concert and others, he was booed and called a “Judas” by the folkies. But the world of Rock & Roll loved it and so did I.
Now for the mystery. A lady named Dawn Peterson says she has the Fender Stratocaster guitar he played that night and has evidence to prove it. She wrote a letter to Dylan’s lawyers seeking ownership papers. They wrote back and said that “if’ the guitar was Dylan’s, it was still legally his property. The “if” is there because Bob Dylan claims to still have the guitar.
This is a 47 year-old mystery and I hope Dawn makes a bundle off of it. This guitar, or this moment in history, has been called one the top 50 events in Rock & Roll history and this guitar might be worth millions. Ms. Peterson got the guitar from her father, who was the pilot who flew Bob Dylan and other performers from concert to concert. He left it to Dawn when he died.
Eric Clapton has auctioned off many of his old guitars to support his center for alcoholism. He has made millions from his guitars and amps. The most famous of them was a Fender Stratocaster he called “Blackie“. He made it himself out of 3 different guitars and played it for years. It was auctioned off for a cool $959,500. Clapton’s 1956 Fender Stratocaster Sunburst, known as “Brownie” went for $450,000. Les Paul, a legend and the face of Gibson guitars auctioned off his guitars and other memorabilia for over $5 million dollars. That ain’t chicken feed folks.
So, how much is the great Bob Dylan’s guitar and all the history that goes with it worth? Who knows? But Ms. Peterson also found some papers in the guitar case that were certified to be Dylan’s handwriting and are the actual lyrics from his Blonde on Blonde album. These are being estimated to be worth 60 to 100 thousand dollars. I really hope Dylan doesn’t do the asshole thing and try and get this guitar back after 47 years.
I would hate to see this woman lose most of her money hiring lawyers, but I have heard Dylan can squeeze a dime so tight it will turn into a quarter. But, you are in luck. The PBS program History Detectives aired an episode recently that tried to determine whether Dylan’s guitar is the same one in the possession of Dawn Peterson. You can watch the show on PBS Internet and you can be the judge. Good luck Dawn. (I’m single by the way.)