Lifestyle & Belief

Bob Dylan, PBS in dispute over location of famous Fender Stratocaster used at Newport festival


Folk singers Joan Baez and Bob Dylan perform during a civil rights rally on August 28, 1963 in Washington D.C.


Rowland Scherman

Bob Dylan has disputed a claim made by PBS that the guitar he used during his his first live set of electric music at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival has been located.

Described by the Associated Press as "quite possibly the most historic single instrument in rock 'n' roll," the 1964 sunburst Fender Stratocaster is reportedly in the possession of daughter of a pilot who flew Dylan to appearances in the 1960s.

New Jersey woman Dawn Peterson said the guitar had spent much of the past 47 years in the family attic.

According to Rolling Stone, Peterson told PBS's "History Detectives" program that her father Victor Quinto, a private pilot who worked for Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman, found the guitar left on one of his flights and took it home.

"He contacted the company a few times about picking the guitars up, but nobody ever got back to him," she said.

Quinto died aged 41, when his daughter was 8, and the guitar remained in his attic until she took it about 10 years ago, oblivious to its history until a friend saw it and mentioned the Newport connection.

Elyse Luray, a former Christie's auction house appraiser who co-hosts the PBS show, pointed to further indication of a connection, namely that Peterson's father left behind an address book including a phone number for "Bob Dylan, Woodstock;" and that a former Dylan roadie recognized the name of a little-known company that Dylan had formed at the time stenciled on the side of the guitar case.

The case also contained handwritten song lyrics that matched Dylan's handwriting, expert Jeff Gold told PBS. The lyrics also appeared in a form on songs that Dylan recorded but rejected for his 1966 "Blonde on Blonde" album.

If authenticated, the "Dylan goes electric" guitar could fetch as much as $500,000, the AP cited "experts" as saying.

"This is not just kinda cool. This is way cool," Andy Babiuk said, the AP reported.

"We all love Bob Dylan, but this is really a pinnacle point not just in his career but for music in general. I don't think music in the 1960s would have been the same if Dylan had not gone electric."

However, the New York Daily News cited a statement from Dylan's attorney, Orin Snyder, as saying: "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."

Even the "History Detectives" host Wes Cowan was skeptical, quoted by Rolling Stone as saying: "It's so important, historically and culturally, that I couldn't have imagined Bob Dylan would have just left it on an airplane."

PBS will air the program devoted to the process of authenticating the guitar on July 17th.

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