Robbie Robertson Is Selling Bob Dylan's 'Going Electric' Guitar
By Andrew Magnotta
April 10, 2018
When Robbie Robertson sells a guitar, music historians around the world take note.
Robertson secured his place in music history in the mid-1960s as part of Bob Dylan's first electric band. But Robertson was also the lead guitarist and primary songwriter for The Band and had a long, successful career as a solo artist.
The guitar Robertson is now auctioning off via Julien's upcoming Music Icons sale in New York City on May 19 is a particularly special piece that will surely compel some well-off Dylanite to write an awfully big check.
Robertson's 1965 Fender Telecaster is the same one Dylan used on his first electric tour.
Dylan is often associated with the Fender Stratocaster because that was the guitar he used when he unveiled the most controversial phase of his career at the Newport Folk Festival.
But by the time Dylan went on tour with his electric band featuring Robertson in 1966, the singer/songwriter was wielding the more practical Telecaster. Robertson says Dylan's switch came at his own suggestion.
"He had a Fender Stratocaster he was playing and I told him the problem with Fender Stratocasters is that because of the springs inside the tremolo bar and everything, it's more inclined to go out of tune," Robertson recalled in a video for Julien's Aucions. "And it's also heavier. So when you have to play a long show and you have to feel light on your feet and everything, Telecaster is the guitar.
Robertson says Dylan ordered a Tele and the guitar became his instrument of choice on the tours and records to come, including 1966's Blonde on Blonde and 1967's The Basement Tapes.
"After the tour The Band, when we moved out to Woodstock, that's when the guitar stayed in my hands all the time. I played it on everything, everywhere, all the time, I think, up until we did the next tour in 1974."
Robertson recorded with the guitar on The Band's classic albums Music From Big Pink from 1968 and The Band from 1969
Watch Robertson's recollections in the video above.
Robertson and Dylan shared the Tele over the next decade. Over the years the guitar was played by greats like Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Levon Helm and others. Dylan eventually left the guitar with Robertson.
"This guitar has been on the front lines of so many phenomenal events, I gaze at it with amazement," said Robertson in a press release. "When I think about all the creativity this guitar has been a part of, I’m still blown away."
A portion of the proceed from the sale of the guitar will benefit the American Indian College Fund.
It's expected to sell for between $400,000 and $600,000.
Get more information about the May 19 auction at New York's Hard Rock Café here.
Photo: Getty Images