Lot 234

Bob Dylan and Robbie Robertson | 1965 Fender Telecaster Guitar with Book
Bob Dylan and Robbie Robertson | 1965 Fender Telecaster Guitar with Book
Bob Dylan and Robbie Robertson | 1965 Fender Telecaster Guitar with Book
Bob Dylan and Robbie Robertson | 1965 Fender Telecaster Guitar with Book
Bob Dylan and Robbie Robertson | 1965 Fender Telecaster Guitar with Book
Bob Dylan and Robbie Robertson | 1965 Fender Telecaster Guitar with Book
+ 23

Bob Dylan and Robbie Robertson

1965 Fender Telecaster Guitar with Book


$500,000 - $700,000

Sold Price


A 1965 Fender Telecaster solid body electric guitar, serial #L97811, finish stripped to natural. Formerly owned, recorded, and stage played by Robbie Robertson of The Band, and stage played by Bob Dylan. From the collection of Robbie Robertson.

When Bob Dylan went electric, this guitar was there. Side one of "Bringing It All Back Home" featured an electric backing band, with Dylan further embracing the sound on 1965’s Highway 61 Revisited, and 1966’s "Blonde on Blonde." 

Robbie Robertson of The Hawks (the band who would later come to be known as “The Band”) ordered this Telecaster after suggesting that it would be a good fit for Dylan as he integrated the sound and use of the electric guitar into his performances. The Telecaster, a model lovingly referred to as a “workhorse” for many years, was routinely praised for its simplicity of design, great sound, light weight, and stable tuning due to the lack of a vibrato bridge, as is common for Fender’s other revolutionary guitar design, the Stratocaster. 

Originally factory black, Dylan used this guitar throughout 1965, put it to tape on "Blonde on Blonde," and played it every night on his World Tour in 1966 including the infamous heckling incident in Manchester on May 17th, where Dylan was called “Judas” by a concertgoer. Dylan responded, "I don’t believe you," then turned toward the band and yelled, "Play it fucking loud!" The band launched into "Like a Rolling Stone," drowning out any further objection from the audience. This incident was captured on film and later released; Dylan had this Telecaster slung around his shoulder while it all went down. 

Robertson would go on to put the guitar to good use, writing "Chest Fever," "Caledonia Mission," and the opening guitar part of "The Weight," all of which would appear on The Band’s 1968 album "Music from the Big Pink". 

Some of this Telecaster’s other noteworthy appearances include 1969’s Isle of Wight festival where Robertson played the guitar during The Band’s performance with Bob Dylan. The Band would once again join Dylan at the Music Academy of New York at the tail end of December in 1971, where Dylan joined the group on the final of four performances. After a seven year break from touring, Dylan played that New Years Eve engagement with this Tele in hands, now stripped of its original black finish.

This Telecaster appears on The Band’s 1970 "Stage Fright" album, present at the 1970 Festival Express tour, and it was there before 600,000 concertgoers at Watkins Glen in 1973. In 1974, Robertson lent the guitar to Eric Clapton when he took the stage with The Band.

This Telecaster’s list of studio credits is as long as it is impressive, and includes the names of Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Jesse Winchester, and of course, The Band.

The guitar has a 25.5-inch scale length maple neck with a 21 fret maple cap fretboard. The neck retains its original finish, logo decal, and string tree. The tuners have been replaced with era-correct reproductions, with the original double-line Kluson tuners included in the case. 

The heel of the heck bears the Fender date code stamp which reads 3JUN65B. 3 is the model code for Telecaster, JUN for June, 65 for 1965, and B indicates the nut width of 1 5/8”. The neck plate has a serial number of L97811, which indicates 1965 production date. 

The body, originally finished in black, was stripped by Robertson in 1970. The original finish can still be seen beneath the neck plate as well as the area where the pickguard and control plate meet. For a time, the now-natural guitar retained its original neck pickup and pickguard, but by 1971’s Rock of Ages performance, the Telecaster was fitted with a new three ply white-black-white pickguard and a chrome-covered Gibson patent number humbucker, which it still wears today. 

It remained in that configuration with its original bridge and bridge pickup until sometime in 2000, when Robertson had the guitar modified for a Bigsby B16 vibrato. The B16, which normally mounts to the top of the guitar and replaces its existing bridge entirely, was routed in order to set the entire device beneath the surface of the top. This unique and unorthodox modification allowed installation of the B16 without changing the fundamental string geometry of the guitar. 

The guitar comes with its original black Fender-branded hardshell case, with The Band “IB” stencil (the T modified to an I due to Levon Helm’s belief that having the abbreviation for Tuberculosis on a case was ‘bad mojo’) as well as a taped “X” and some other tape residue on the lid. The chrome portion of the Fender logo is missing. The case has an orange interior and includes a spare single-ply tortoise shell pickguard, a Seymour Duncan JB pickup, one red Seymour Duncan Hot Stack for Tele pickup, original tuners, bridge, and a bag of screws.

Sounding off with guest contributor: Alan Light
“Dylan goes electric” is still used as shorthand any time an artist follows his own path and defies the audience’s expectations. When Bob Dylan really did go electric, nearly sixty years ago, this Fender Telecaster was one of his most crucial weapons. After Dylan plugged in on the Bringing It All Back Home album and his Newport Folk Festival appearance, Robbie Robertson of The Band thought this guitar would be a good fit for Dylan, who used it throughout 1965, recorded with it on Blonde on Blonde, and played it every night on his 1966 world tour—when a heckler in Manchester called Dylan “Judas,” this was the instrument in his hands.

The guitar then went back to Robertson, who wrote several Band classics on it including “Chest Fever,” “Caledonia Mission,” and “The Weight.” Robertson also played it for such landmark events as 1969’s Isle of Wight festival and the 1973 Watkins Glen festival (where 600,000 attendees made it the biggest concert ever at the time) and on studio sessions with Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, and Ringo Starr. In 1971, Dylan picked up the Tele again when he made a surprise appearance with The Band on New Year’s Eve at New York’s Academy of Music, a performance captured on the celebrated Rock of Ages album.


PROVENANCE From The Collection of Robbie Robertson

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