Around the Nation

Bob Dylan's Electric Guitar Sells For $965,000

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The auction house Christie's sold a Sunburst Fender Stratocaster guitar Friday for a whopping $965,000. It's the guitar behind what some consider a watershed moment in music history — the moment that Bob Dylan picked up an electric guitar on July 25, 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival.


Today, Christie's auction house sold a sunburst Fender Stratocaster for $965,000. It's the guitar behind a watershed moment in music history.


BOB DYLAN: (Singing) I ain't going to work on Maggie's farm no more.

SIEGEL: The moment Bob Dylan went electric. It was July 25th, 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival.

MURRAY LERNER: I was mesmerized by it.


Filmmaker Murray Lerner won an Oscar for his documentary called "Festival" that featured Dylan. And Lerner was there in the front row, filming the folk singer's electric moment.

LERNER: It was almost like a high priest hypnotizing the crowd and I thought that this was the beginning of a very profound cultural change.

BLOCK: But that's not how everyone felt. Many folk purists in the audience considered the move a betrayal, and they booed.


BLOCK: Again, filmmaker Murray Lerner.

LERNER: It's amazing how many times the avant-garde is booed and gets crushed and then comes back successfully. For instance, the big one is "The Rite of Spring" by Stravinsky, one of the great pieces of music of the 20th century. But when it played in the ballet in Paris, people threw eggs and vegetables and booed.

SIEGEL: The controversy Dylan created - and the fact that he was booed - no doubt led to the guitar's massive selling price, the highest ever for a guitar at auction. Where has this famous guitar been all these years?

BLOCK: Well, Bob Dylan accidentally left it on a private plane and, since then, it's been in the possession of the pilot's family in New Jersey. Though Dylan initially doubted the guitar's authenticity, he has since changed his tune.


DYLAN: (Singing) Once upon a time, you dressed so fine. Threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you? People call, say beware, doll, you're bound to fall. You thought they were all kidding you. You used to laugh about everybody that was hanging out. Now you don't talk so loud.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from