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In 1965, Bob Dylan walked on stage at the Newport Festival, plugged in his guitar and played three songs. If the same moment happened today, it wouldn’t even be enough for a news story, but given the context, it was one of the most important moments in the history of Rock N Roll. Until that day, Dylan was a folk icon. He played an acoustic guitar, and many of his fans, who hated Rock N Roll, liked it that way. In one quick swoop, the singer changed everything. Some historians say he was booed at the festival. Others say Pete Seeger cut his power. Some maintain many in the crowd actually were behind the decision. Regardless, the moment has lived on, as has the iconic guitar—somewhere at least.
The truth is no one is one hundred percent sure what happened to the instrument Dylan played that day. The musician has long maintained he has it in his possession, but the daughter of the pilot who supposedly flew him to the gig is confident the star left it on her dad’s plane. Wanting to find some sort of resolution, Dawn Peterson contacted PBS’ History Detectives to investigate, and after a lengthy process in which they examined pictures and tape, analyzed wood patterns and authenticated the handwriting on the side of the guitar, they’re confident the one that sat in Peterson’s attic for decades is the right instrument.
According to CBC, experts say the instrument could net five hundred thousand dollars if it ever went to auction, but for the time being, Peterson has no interest in selling one of her favorite links to her deceased father. As for Dylan, he’s still supposedly confident the one he possesses is the instrument in question.
You can check out PBS’ special on the guitar next Tuesday on the History Detectives.