Bob Dylan's Infamous Guitar May Have Been in New Jersey Attic

PHOTO: Musician Bob Dylan plugged in and "went electric" at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, 1965.
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A woman in New Jersey says she may have had in her attic an electric guitar that once belonged to Bob Dylan -- and played a significant part in the history of rock and roll. Dylan's lawyer disagrees, though, and music historians are fascinated.

The woman, Dawn Peterson, said her late father, Vic Quinto, was a private pilot for Dylan in the 1960s.

When Dylan switched to the Fender Stratocaster from an acoustic guitar at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, folk purists at the time said he had sold out by "plugging in." He was famously booed off the stage. But that moment is said to have revolutionized rock music and energized the counterculture of the '60s.

Peterson said her father told her Dylan once left three guitars in the plane. It wasn't until after her father died that she saw documentary footage of Dylan playing at Newport. She said she wondered if the guitar in the film was the one in her house.

She enlisted PBS' "History Detectives" to investigate whether she had the guitar that changed rock music. The search will be featured in the show's season premiere on July 17.

Peterson said her father gave one of the other two guitars he had to a cousin, who traded it away in the late '70s. She said she does not know what happened to the last guitar.

"My father passed away in 1977, when I was 8 years old, and my mother kept the Stratocaster in the attic until after 1995 when I was married, and then I brought it to my house a couple years after that," Peterson said in a statement.

"My father contacted them more than once to ask what they wanted him to do with them and was told to take them, so he took them home and no one contacted him or asked about them again," Peterson said.

Experts, including a man who certifies guitars for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, said there's evidence that Peterson's Stratocaster is indeed the instrument Dylan played at the Newport festival in 1965. The guitar is estimated to be valued at $300,000 to $500,000.

But the ownership of the guitar is up for debate.

In 2005, Dawn and her husband wrote to Dylan's managers asking that he waive any claim to the guitar that had been with her family. His attorneys denied her request and mailed her a letter saying if his guitar had been left with her father, it should be returned.

Now, Orin Snyder, an attorney for Dylan, has sent a statement to ABC News:

"Bob has possession of the electric guitar he played at The Newport Folk Festival in 1965. 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."

Publicists for the PBS show replied, "'History Detectives' stands by its reporting of our story in which we conclude that a contributor to the show is in possession of the Fender Stratocaster played by Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival." The show said the wood grain on the guitar in Peterson's house matched what one sees in photographs of Dylan during that famous performance.

Where does this leave Dawn Peterson and the guitar? She said she relies on the History Detectives' authentification.

"It has been in my family for 47 years now," she said. "At this time I have no plans except to keep the guitar safe, away from my home in a climate controlled place."

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