What’s a rare Bob Dylan album worth? The answer, my friends, is that it really just depends

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Monday was the 80th birthday of the man regarded as perhaps America’s most cherished folk-rock songwriter. 

Robert Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan, reaches the eight-decade milestone still producing new material, having just released an album in June 2020, mid-pandemic.

But it’s some of his earliest work — to be more specific, an odd production error in 1963 — that we call your attention to now.

Bob Dylan’s second album, released in 1963, was called The Free Wheelin’ Bob Dylan, and it was the first album of his to appear on the charts, the first to feature Dylan’s own compositions almost exclusively  — and thanks in part to the now-classic anti-war folk song, Blowin’ in the Wind, the one that elevated him to fame.

Nick Bozanich of Bakersfield knows all about that. But in addition to being a Bob Dylan fan, he is something of an expert on Dylan’s aforementioned second album.

Specifically, a select handful that were printed in error.

In 1963, Dylan’s record label, Columbia, decided at the last minute to withdraw four tracks from the album and replace them with four different, newly written Dylan songs.

As legend has it, though, someone at one of Columbia’s pressing plants didn’t get the memo until an unknown number of records with the wrong songs had been pressed. Columbia ordered those records destroyed, but a very small number got out and were sold to the record buying public — and those are phenomenally valuable — according to some record dealers, THE most valuable vinyl records in the world.

Only two stereo copies are known to exist and only about 20 mono copies. One such record — stereo — sold for $35,000. A Texas man who owns a copy says he was offered $80,000 but he turned it down because he believes it’s worth $120,000. That remains to be seen.

But those are the kind of numbers that intrigue Bozanich, a Kern County farmer turned real estate developer, who says he bought his mono copy three years ago for a price he won’t disclose. Suffice to say he didn’t find it in a dusty record-store bin for $5.

His copy appears never to have been touched by a turntable’s needle — at least Bozanich has never played it. And the record jacket and disc label list the updated lineup of songs. So how can we verify that this is the actual vinyl treasure Bozanich says it is? By the so-called matrix number printed on the vinyl, near the center.

“It has to end with 1-A,” Bozanich said. “One-A. Dash 1-A. If it doesn’t have dash 1-A, it’s not …”

… It’s not the rare version.

Interested? You have about six days left to bid. As of mid-day Monday, the top bid on eBay was a little over $2,500, and Bozanich’s reserve price had not been met.

So what is a rare Bob Dylan album, perhaps one of the rarest of all albums, worth to you and me?

The answer, my friends,

It really all depends,

But Bob Dylan could pay dividends.

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