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Robert Allen Zimmerman—better known by his stage name Bob Dylan—celebrated his 75th birthday a week ago. The Nobel Prize winning, voice of a generation has reinvented his sound countless times over the past six decades but none was more notable than his performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965.
He had just released a little single called "Like a Rolling Stone" which featured a rock and roll sound which caused a bit of a stir among the die-hard folk fans Dylan had amassed. The album Bringing It All Back Home marked a change in Dylan's sound, the A-side featured Dylan backed by an electric band while the B-side highlighted the solo acoustic folk sound his fans had come to know and love.
By the time the 1965 Newport Folk Festival came around, leading members of the folk movement were already criticizing Dylan for moving away from political songwriting in favor of performing with his new electric band. When it came time for his performance at the festival, Dylan had already made the fateful decision to leave behind his Martin acoustic and hit the stage with a 1965 Fender Stratocaster. The rest of the evening is now mired in rumor and mysticism.
Most people believe that Dylan was "booed" that night because he arrived on stage with an electric guitar and a full band backing him up but the story is up for debate. Many say it was because is set was too short—lasting only 15 minutes initially. Others say it was due to the poor sound quality being projected by the festivals sound system.
We're pretty damn glad that Bob Dylan picked up an electric guitar and showed the world he was just as much of a rocker as he was a storyteller. In honor of his birthday, here is a curated selection of instruments.
In his early days, Dylan could often be seen with C.F. Martin 00 and 000 style acoustics, almost always in natural finishes (he wasn't too keen on sunburst). The modern day Martin 00-15m and 000-18 Retro certainly bring back the look and sound of the '60s folk movement with features like built-in electronics that make them the perfect choice for todays folk troubadours.
Certain GIbson acoustic models found their way into Bob's repertoire as well such as the J-50, Hummingbird, J-180, and others. Here are some of our favorite vintage and modern options!
By the mid '60s the rock and roll revolution was in full swing and the Fender guitar was at the center of it. After Newport, it was not uncommon to see Dylan using Fender guitars in and out of the studio. These included Stratocasters, Jaguars, Telecasters, and even Fender's less popular—but ultra cool—models like the Electric XII and Bass VI. We've got a wide selection of vintage and new Fender electrics to fit any price range!
This post barely scratches the surface of Dylan's wide range of guitars. After 60 years worth of tours, albums, and hits, the fans have gotten over the "going electric" phase. Just goes to show it's not the guitar—it's the person who plays it.
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