A harmonica used by Bob Dylan in 1961 went under the hammer for US$13,750 (S$18,700) at a recent auction, held last Saturday.
While the legendary septuagenarian is set to perform in Singapore this August, backed by a live band as part of his Asia tour that spans from Japan to Hong Kong, the then 20-year-old was a complete newbie to the industry in those days. His first professional recording was as a harmonica player for a Harry Belafonte album in 1960. He was paid S$68 for his work.
When the Minnesota-born rock and folk musician first moved to New York City, he was performing at numerous downtown clubs and regularly bunked over at the McKenzie household. According to the accompanying provenance, the mouth organ set (a Hohner “Marine Band” harmonica and metal neckstand) was left to the parents of Peter McKenzie after Dylan moved out of their apartment in 1961. Included is a copy of a handwritten note from Dylan reading: “These are for you. They’re a bit worn, but still good! Bob”.
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Heritage Auctions, the auction house that handled the bidding, said this harmonica is similar to the one Bob Dylan used during his first live performance at Gerde’s Folk City on April 11, 1961, where he supported Blues legend John Lee Hooker.
Bob Dylan is a legend himself today, considered one of the most influential living musicians in the world. In 2016, he became the first singer-songwriter to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Other famous musicians apparently influenced by him include Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles. His fanbase even reaches to the very top. Barack Obama has called himself a huge Bob Dylan fan.
Bob Dylan will perform in Singapore at The Star Theatre on Monday, 6 August at 8.30pm.