Dylan's harmonica up for sale

Rob GarrattHe is a music legend known for his timeless songs, unmistakable voice and wheezy harmonica playing - and now one of Bob Dylan's treasured instruments is going under the hammer in Norfolk.Rob Garratt

He is a music legend known for his timeless songs, unmistakable voice and wheezy harmonica playing - and now one of Bob Dylan's treasured instruments is going under the hammer in Norfolk.

A harmonica belonging to the folk singer turned electric rocker is up for auction in Norwich tomorrow, giving collectors and Dylan fans a chance to walk away with a little piece of history.

From Neil Young to Bruce Springsteen, talent has kissed a great number of harmonicas, but none comes quite as highly sought-after as those belonging to Dylan.

He is widely regarded as a reclusive star who has made great efforts to hide his private life from the public, and the appearance of one of his instruments for sale is a coup for the city.


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The Hohner Super Chromonica instrument in question dates back more than three decades to when it was used on stage by the star.

Its case has been inscribed and signed in his hand.

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The harmonica was a gift to a member of Dylan's wardrobe team in 1974, the year before the release of his Blood On The Tracks album.

The item has now been passed over to a vendor to be sold by auction at

St Andrews Hall, where Barnes Auctioneers are expecting it to fetch more than �1,000.

Auctioneer Gary Barnes said: 'It's a fantastic item, and we're really glad to have it in the sale.

'Bob Dylan is an iconic name known around the world, and there are people waiting for an opportunity to acquire something of his.

'Bob is relatively private. There are certain artists and celebrities who are constantly signing and giving thing away, but someone like Dylan does not do that very

often, which makes this very, very special.'

The item is technically a chromonica - chromatic harmonica - which means it has a full 12-note musical range rather than the more popular eight-note 'blues harp'.

Dylan has used Hohner versions exclusively throughout his 45-year career. It was a gift from Dylan to the brother, also called Bob, of one of his wardrobe workers after she told the star her sibling was a fan.

It comes in a case that bears the message: 'To Bob, Good Luck, Bob Dylan, 1974'.

Last year, Hohner put up for sale a series of limited-edition signed harmonicas, with a full set of seven retailing at $25,000 (about �15,000) a go. Meanwhile, a single C-harmonica cost $5,000 (about �3,000).

Dylan's harmonica style has been ridiculed and praised in equal measure during his career.

Christer Svensson, curator of fansite dylanchords.com and a harmonica player, said: 'There are those, especially among professional harpers, who don't like the way Dylan plays the harp. A common line of argument is something like: 'I respect him as a songwriter and a performer, but my four-year-old son plays better harp than him.'

'Then there are those who go mad about almost anything he plays, be it good or outright bad.

'And then there are us middlemen, archive-crawlers, dust-researchers, who still go out and buy a

Marine Band and feel satisfied when able to produce some of Dylan's clumsy, unstable, unsophisticated fills.'

The firm of auctioneers says it is thrilled to have such a desirable item on offer after just two years in the auction business, although the family name has been trading in antiques for 30 years.

Mr Barnes added: 'We're a particularly new business growing

at this time of recession, and here we've pulled off a coup. There's

a lot of established auctions houses that would have loved this.'

Dylan, 68, is one of the most influential pop and rock songwriters of all time and has been a household name since the early 1960s.

After making four acoustic folk albums, he shocked fans by suddenly turning 'electric' in 1965, spawning a string of LPs often quoted as the best rock albums ever: Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde.

He has continued recording and playing live ever since and, since 1988, has been on what is dubbed

the Never Ending Tour, which

sees him playing around 100 dates a year at concert halls around the world.

His most recent album, Together Through Life, was released in April this year and was met with rave reviews.

The auction sale takes place tomorrow at St Andrews Hall, Norwich, starting at 2pm.

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