The guitar that Bob Dylan used to go electric at the Newport Folk Festival 50 years ago is back in Newport. "Dylan's guitar is home," festival producer Jay Sweet said through a spokeswoman Friday, the opening day of the three-day festival in Rhode Island.
Dylan used the Fender Stratocaster in his performance on July 25, 1965, when he strode on stage in a leather jacket and launched into the song "Maggie's Farm." The performance drew a mix of boos and cheers from the audience, from some who were thrilled by the performance and others who felt abandoned by someone who until then had been known for singing protest songs with an acoustic guitar.
Jim Irsay, owner of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, bought the guitar in 2013 for $965,000. It was the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction. The curator of his guitar collection brought it to the festival Friday.
This weekend's festival is paying tribute to Dylan's performance in a number of ways, including a still-secret lineup of around a dozen acts on Sunday. The festival is also hosting a discussion of a new book that examines the performance, and what led up to it, "Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night that Split the Sixties," by Elijah Wald.
Organizers say they also hope the guitar can be played this weekend, although it has not been played in public in 50 years. Sweet has said Dylan was invited but won't be there. The last time he played at the Newport Folk Festival was in 2002.