Bob Dylan’s Fender returns to Newport Folk Festival 50 years on

It became the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction in 2013

Bob Dylan’s electric guitar, which he first used at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, has returned to Newport 50 years later.

The festival producer, Jay Sweet said “Dylan’s guitar is home” on Friday (July 24), the first day of this year’s festival.

Dylan first went electric with the Fender Stratocaster at the festival on July 25, 1965, drawing boos from some members of the crowd and criticisms from folk musicians including Irwin Silber and Ewan MacCroll for moving away from acoustic music.



The guitar was bought in 2013 by Jim Irsay, owner of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. He paid $965,000, making it the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction. On Friday the Stratocaster was brought to the festival by the curator of Irsay’s rare guitar collection.

It has not been played in public for 50 years. Dylan, who last played the festival in 2002, will not be performing, despite an invitation from Jay Sweet. However, a tribute to Dylan will close the festival today (July 26), with a secret lineup of nearly a dozen artists that will not be unveiled until the acts appear on stage.

Speaking to The Guardian, Sweet said, “”Having him back would be the least Newport way to celebrate it. Trying to recreate that moment is a fool’s errand. We’re about the future, not about reliving the past.”