Bob Dylan Guitar
On July 25, 1965, Bob Dylan stepped on stage in front of tens of thousands of fans at the Newport Folk Festival. The crowd expected Dylan’s signature acoustic folk songs. They got a revolution. Dylan plugged in his Stratocaster and went electric, changing Rock ’n’ Roll history forever. Now, 47-years later, Dawn Peterson thinks she may have that very guitar.
Her father was a pilot who flew music acts in the 1960’s. He said Dylan left this guitar on his plane. Dawn didn’t believe it until she saw a documentary picturing Bob Dylan on that Newport stage playing a guitar that looked just like her dad’s.
History Detectives Elyse Luray and Wes Cowan team up to investigate what could be the most valuable item since the show began.
In March, 2012, during the investigation of the guitar that Dawn Peterson brought to our attention, History Detectives contacted Bob Dylan’s attorneys twice asking for any comment or reaction. We received no response at the time.
On July 11, after production of the program was completed, Mr. Dylan’s attorney responded to press queries with the following statement:
"Bob has possession of the electric guitar he played at The Newport Folk Festival in 1965. He did own several other Stratocaster guitars that were stolen from him around that time, as were some handwritten lyrics. In addition, Bob recalls driving to the Newport Folk Festival, along with two of his friends, not flying."
His attorney also sent a letter to PBS and Lion Television (co-producer of History Detectives) with a similar statement, raising concerns about the authenticity of the items featured in the program. The attorney also “dispute[s] that Mr. Dylan has relinquished superior ownership to any of the property at issue.”
In response, History Detectives issued this statement:
History Detectives stands by its reporting of our story in which we conclude that a contributor to the show is in possession of the Fender Stratocaster played by Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.
The guitar was authenticated by Andy Babiuk of Rochester, New York, based on the evidence provided – which included close-up color photographs of Mr. Dylan performing at Newport.
Mr. Babiuk was able to match the wood grain shown in detail on the photographs with the wood grain of our contributor’s guitar. According to Mr. Babiuk, like a fingerprint, no two wood grains are identical. Mr. Babiuk has previously authenticated numerous guitars including a John Lennon Gretsch 6120 currently on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a Bob Dylan Hummingbird used by Mr. Dylan at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration.
History Detectives welcomes the opportunity to examine the guitar which is currently in Mr. Dylan’s possession.
Although it may not be clear who actually owns the instrument, our job was to investigate if this was the guitar played by Bob Dylan at The Newport Folk Festival in 1965, and to educate the public about these important events in our country’s cultural history.
Check back for further updates regarding our investigation’s conclusions.
Andy Babiuk’s Fab Gear
200 Packetts Landing
Fairport, NY 14450
Bob Dylan Song Lyrics
- Also in Vietnam Era: 1960-1980 Hot Town Poster What role did this striking poster play in the explosive events of 1960s America?
- Related Investigation Birthplace Of Hip Hop Did this Bronx apartment building give birth to a culture that now spans the globe?
- Also with Wes Cowan Snowshoe's Mailbag Was this the satchel Snowshoe Thompson used to deliver his mail?
- Related Investigation Clara Barton Letter What does this letter reveal about America's early efforts to honor its war dead?
- Also with Elyse Luray Grace Kelly Car Is this the car driven by an actress turned princess, which would give it a place in cinematic history?
- Also with Wes Cowan Jefferson Pledge Did the transformation of the nation's public education system begin with this $200 pledge?
This is a place for opinions, comments, questions and discussion; a place where viewers of History Detectives can express their points of view and connect with others who value history. We ask that posters be polite and respectful of all opinions. History Detectives reserves the right to delete comments that don’t conform to this conduct. We will not respond to every post, but will do our best to answer specific questions, or address an error.