Last year producers for the popular PBS show History Detectives contacted me and told me about a viewer that had approached them with a guitar that had purportedly belonged to Bob Dylan and was possibly the guitar that he used at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, when Dylan ‘went electric’. The guitar was a 1960’s Sunburst Stratocaster with its original case. Also in the case were thirteen pages of Dylan manuscripts and unpublished lyrics. I agreed to help authenticate the guitar. History Detectives also contacted my good friend Jeff Gold owner of RecordMecca.com and Dylan historian to help authenticate the handwritten lyrics. Read Jeff’s blog about his involvement at his site RecordMecca.com.
Well, the lyrics and manuscripts had proven to be 100% authentic. Next up was the guitar. The outside of the guitar case was stenciled “Property of Ashes & Sand”, a little known name of the company that Dylan and his then manager Albert Grossman set up for touring. We also found a photographer who shot Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. His amazing unpublished color photos were shot just feet away from Dylan and showed the guitar in great detail. Large prints were made off the original negatives and sent to my shop. The crew from History Detectives came up to Rochester with the guitar and filmed a segment for the show at Fab Gear. I took apart the guitar and thoroughly examined it. With the photos and the guitar on my desk I was able to finally match up the wood grain of the guitar with the photos of the instrument in question. What an amazing find! I had to play ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ on it!
The historical importance of this guitar is immense and has sparked a massive amount of interest and controversy in the press. Jeff Gold put it best when he wrote, “It’s ironic and yet somehow fitting that the controversy and intrigue surrounding Dylan’s “going electric” at Newport, 47 years ago, continues.” You can read more about the story of this important guitar at USA TODAY, Rolling Stone, CNN, New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Sun Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, The Daily Mail
Time Warner news cable channel YNN also ran a local story on Dylan’s guitar at Fab Gear. Check it out at YNN
Don’t forget to watch the show… History Detectives, Season 10 Premiere. Tuesday July 17. 9:00/8:00 central. History Detectives will be available for viewing the day after broadcast on the PBS Video site and PBS mobile apps for iPhone and iPad.
UPDATE 7/26/12 – Here’s the show! Check it out…
I’ll be posting more info and pictures we took of this cool guitar while it was here at Fab Gear in the next weeks. Stay tuned…