Bob Dylan rejects claim over first electric guitar

LOS ANGELES – Bob Dylan dismissed Thursday a claim that a woman in New Jersey has the guitar he played at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, when he was infamously booed for going electric.

A lawyer for the music icon said Dylan still has the Fender Stratocaster guitar which he played on July 25, 1965, prompting boos which forced him off stage after only three songs.

The musician had until then played solely on acoustic guitar, making his name as a protest singer with early hits including “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They are a-Changin’.”

An upcoming television documentary reportedly claims that the guitar was left on board a plane which Dylan used after the show, and that the pilot took it with him, and left it in an attic.

Dawn Peterson, a 43-year-old New Jersey woman and daughter of the pilot, Vic Quinto who died in 1977, told the PBS show “History Detectives” that her father had always said the guitar was left inadvertently on his plane.

“Since I can remember a guitar had been in the attic, although no one, including me, paid much attention to it,” Peterson told the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

The instrument “remained in my mother’s attic for another 20 years until I got married and brought it to my home,” she said, adding the family had never been sure until PBS researchers confirmed the authenticity of the guitar.

But Dylan’s lawyer Orin Snyder rejected the claim, made in a show to be broadcast on July 17.

“Bob has possession of the electric guitar he played at The Newport Folk Festival in 1965,” he said. “He did own several other Stratocaster guitars that were stolen from him around that time, as were some handwritten lyrics.

“In addition, Bob recalls driving to the Newport Folk Festival, along with two of his friends, not flying,” he added in a statement sent to AFP.

Dylan shrugged off the electric controversy — in 1966 a fan notoriously shouted “Judas” at a show in England — and went on to become “the voice of a generation” and one of the most influential musicians of modern times.

The singer — real name Robert Allen Zimmerman — turned 71 this year, and is still on his so-called Never Ending Tour, which he launched in 1988. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in May.