Around the Nation
Fri December 6, 2013
Bob Dylan's Electric Guitar Sells For $965,000
Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 7:35 pm
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Today, Christie's auction house sold a sunburst Fender Stratocaster for $965,000. It's the guitar behind a watershed moment in music history.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAGGIE'S FARM")
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.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
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.
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD BOOING)
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.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIKE A ROLLING STONE")
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. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.