The Fender Stratocaster that Bob Dylan plugged in when he famously went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival sold today for nearly $1 million—the highest price ever paid for a guitar at auction. Christie's auction house did not immediately identify the absentee buyer who agreed to pay $965,000 for the sunburst-finish guitar. Dylan's legendary performance at the festival in Rhode Island 48 years ago marked his rupture with the folk movement's old guard and solidified his shift away from acoustic music—a la "Blowin' in the Wind"—to plugged-in rock and roll—think "Like a Rolling Stone."
The raucous, three-song electric set was booed by some in the crowd, and folk purists saw Dylan as a traitor and a sellout. But Dylan's "going electric changed the structure of folk music," says Newport Folk Festival founder George Wein. "The minute Dylan went electric, all these young people said, 'Bobby's going electric. We're going electric, too.'" Christie's had expected the guitar, which was sold with its original black leather strap and Fender hard shell case, to go for far less: $300,000 to $500,000. (Click to read about Dylan's recent trouble in France.)