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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Will The Real Dylan Strat Please Stand Up

Dylan at 1965 Newport Folk Festival
Most stories involving a guitar revolve around one that was stolen and sometimes returned (like Peter Frampton's famous Les Paul). This one's different because of the claim that a famous guitar was not stolen or lost.

It all revolves around the Strat that Bob Dylan used at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, which was significant because it was the first show that he did electric, which almost caused a riot with the purist acoustic fans there.

The PBS television show History Detectives claims to have Dylan's Strat from that show, found by a New Jersey women in her woman's attic. The women's father was a pilot for Dylan's private plane at the time and claimed that the guitar was accidentally left behind. He tried to get in touch with Dylan several times afterwards but was never able, then passed away in 1977. Not only did the case (marked "Property of Ashes & Sand Inc," Dylan's tour company at the time) have the sunburst Strat, but also contained several pages of lyrics. The show brought in several rock and guitar historians who feel that they've authenticated the guitar and lyrics beyond a shadow of a doubt.

End of story, right? Not really. Dylan's attorney issued a statement stating that the original guitar played at the festival was still in his possession, and that he didn't use a private plane for show, driving down from his home in Woodstock, NY instead.

So who's right here? Having just co-written a book that relied on people's memories of events from long ago (Ken Scott's Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust), I can say that the memory can be a fuzzy thing. Dylan could easily be thinking of a different show. I guess we'll have to watch the show to see the evidence presented.

One thing's for sure, the guitar is valued at $1 million +, but the women isn't selling.


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Eric Marshall Schoonmaker said...

Grammar Police:

THe use of the word Women, and Women's is incorrect. It should be Woman, and Woman's.

Great article otherwise, I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Mostly this article makes me wonder how many great instruments are wasting away unplayed because they are "museum pieces", and how this kind of thing inflates prices of old instruments.

Bobby Owsinski said...

Thanks, Eric. Can't catch them all here.


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