There are famous guitars and there are infamous guitars. For many, a 1964 Fender Stratocaster once owned Bob Dylan falls in the latter category.
It's the guitar that took Dylan electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, a pivotal point in the history of both folk music and rock 'n' roll. Dylan apparently lost the famed instrument soon after, however, and it took nearly 50 years to find it.
Prior to taking the stage at Newport that year, Dylan had made a name for himself with protest-tinged folk anthems like "Blowin' In The Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'," some of the most celebrated songs in the history of American music. The audience wasn't aware, however, that weeks earlier he'd recorded "Like A Rollin' Stone," and acoustic folk it was not.
Dylan elected to play it and three others with a fully amplified band at the festival. As the History channel says of the moment, "Almost immediately, the jeering and yelling from the audience grew loud enough nearly to drown out the sound of Dylan and his band." One New York Times writer suggested Dylan's performance represented "the cataclysmic finish of the folk movement."
The extent to which the crowd was angry is still debated, but one thing seems certain: Dylan almost immediately lost the '65 Strat. The story goes that the music icon left it on a private plane he subsequently traveled on. The pilot of that plane apparently made attempts to contact Dylan's representatives to let them know he had the instrument to no avail. So, for almost 50 years, the guitar that helped define the history of rock 'n' roll resided with the pilot and his family.
Then, in 2012, That's when a daughter reached out to the television show History Detectives to help verify the instrument's authenticity. The investigation held that it was indeed Dylan's history-making guitar and it was sold at auction a year later for $965,000. Watch Dylan change the music world with it below.
Russ Penuell lives in Nashville with his girlfriend, three dogs and a lot of music.