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Bob Dylan's Fender Strat Returns to Newport Folk Festival...Who Will Play It?

by Ryan Book   Jul 25, 2015 12:49 PM EDT

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Bob Dylan's Fender Stratocaster, which was played 50 years ago this weekend at the Newport Folk Festival, has returned to Rhode Island to mark the occasion, according to the event's producer, Jay Sweet.

The instrument is responsible for one of the most famous moments in live music history, when Dylan came onstage with the members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and shocked the audience by playing "Maggie's Farm" on the plugged-in instrument. Some were excited by the change of pace from the folk icon, while some booed the decision, which many attest to "feeling betrayed" by Dylan's decision to play an instrument considered separate from the folk scene. People have since gotten over it, Highway 61 Revisited and all, but Newport still relishes the historic moment 50 years later.

The guitar currently belongs to Jim Irsay, better known as the owner of the Indianapolis Colts. He bought the instrument at auction during 2013 for $965,000, still the highest ever bid for a guitar. Needless to say, it's only on lease for this weekend.

That doesn't mean that folks at the Newport Folk Festival won't have a bit of fun with it this weekend. Organizers have phoned in more than a dozen secret acts, who won't be known to attendees until they take the stage on Sunday. Sweet has also hinted that he hopes the famous Stratocaster gets some playtime with somebody this weekend. Who will get the honor remains in the air (if it happens at all). The biggest name at the festival this year is former Pink Floyd leader Roger Waters, and he sure didn't take a crack at it on Friday night.

One act who Sweet ensures us won't be among the secret performers taking the stage on Sunday: Dylan himself. The producer reportedly reached out to the iconic songwriter about marking the occasion and was turned down. Still, he hasn't got anything panned for the "Never-ending" tour until October so we won't believe he ain't showing up until he doesn't show up. Stay tuned.

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