Editor of The Telegraph Dylan fanzine.
The Guardian, Friday October 25, 1996 DEVOTED TO DYLAN AND THE WANDERERS John Bauldie, who was killed, aged 47, in the helicopter crash along with Matthew Harding and three other people, had two passions. One was football and Bolton Wanderers; the other - his defining passion - was Bob Dylan. Indeed it was their mutual love of the singer which first brought Bauldie and Matthew Harding together. More than three decades of meticulous research had made Bauldie into one of the world's foremost authorities on Dylan's music. He wrote several key books on him, ran a superb quarterly fanzine, the Telegraph, and was so valued by the Dylan organisation that they enlisted his help in compiling the Bootleg Series, the 1991 CD boxed set which unearthed such lost Dylan gems as No More Auction Block and Blind Willie McTell. Yet there was nobody less like the stereotyped "anorak" than John Bauldie. A former lecturer in English literature he was a dapper and cultured man, who brought a well-rounded intelligence to his quest. With his inimitable blend of scholarship and devotion, he elevated the often narrow world of fanzines to a different realm. He was never one to gatecrash Dylan's privacy or to peddle in specious theorising. His vocation was to amass the data and win for his hero the serious appraisal due to an outstanding 20th century performer. Indeed he only met Dylan once, and that was by accident. Following a US tour, he was passing the singer's tour bus when the reclusive icon sauntered out. The two men held a brief and genial conversation, in the course of which John won a much prized endorsement for his magazine. "The Telegraph?" Bob murmured. "I seen a few issues of that. It's pretty interesting." That was all the recognition that John required. In 1987, his teaching days behind him, he joined our small team at the newly-launched Q magazine as a sub-editor. For the next nine years, he worked diligently, buffing up our monthly efforts, applying a literary exactitude to the hitherto haphazard world of rock journalism. He was a fair bit older than we were, and we loved to mock his professorial pedantry. But he bore our juvenile satire with weary fortitude. And when he laughed, he wept real tears, and his face turned such a shade of scarlet that we feared for the old fella's heart. Nothing displaced Dylan in his affections, but he was equally erudite on David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and, of course, his home-town boys Bolton Wanderers. Those things apart, he loved to travel with his longstanding partner, Penny, and would invariably plan his year around Dylan's interminable tour itineraries. A rather old-fashioned Lancashire gentleman, he cut a memorable figure at those gigs. You'd spot him, immaculately turned-out in his camel-hair coat, looking on with a proprietorial air as he shared his insights with fellow fans. John Bauldie's books include All Across the Telegraph, Wanted Man and, with Patrick Humphries, the wryly-entitled Oh No, Not Another Bob Dylan Book. He had recently begun a new job, as a sub-editor on the magazine House & Garden. And, just before his deplorable end, he was busy preparing a photo account of Dylan's 1966 world tour. John's was a valuable life, and not a moment of it was wasted. Paul du Noyer. Roy Kelly writes: The Telegraph began as a slightly scrappy-looking fanzine issued by an organisation calling itself Wanted Man, the Bob Dylan Information Office. The first issue had a black-and-white, home-made look about it that was entirely understandable given that the so-called office was John Bauldie's living room. This was in late 1981. Over the years the magazine improved in every department: paper, photographic reproduction, computer-setting, and all technical aspects of production meant that The Telegraph began to look as smart, glossy and substantial as Q and Mojo. The articles too moved from fans' responses to literary and historical reviews, contributions from academics such as Christopher Ricks and Dylan associates like Allen Ginsberg, at a length unthinkable in 1981. I shall continue to miss him more than I can say, for the welcome he gave my writing in the Telegraph's pages, but also the hours I spent talking to him on the telephone, often about the next issue, which now will not come again. John Bauldie, music journalist, Dylanologist, born August 23, 1949; died October 22, 1996.
CLOSE UP NORTH
by Graham WilkinsonA recent BBC programme provided a chilling insight into the safety standards of the helicopter industry in this country. Close up North examined the circumstances surrounding the crash that claimed the life of Matthew Harding, the millionaire ViceChairman of Chelsea Football Club. Three other passengers along with the pilot were also killed in this accident. Although he is not mentioned by name, our own John Bauldie was one of those accompanying passengers. As this was a regional programme, it is likely that many of John's friends and acquaintances will have missed the disturbing findings. Although I would have fallen into the acquaintance rather than friend category, I did feel a special affinity for all that John had achieved with The Telegraph. His chatty editorials made him seem quite a familiar figure. The extent of our personal contact, however, was limited to the occasional word or two outside a concert venue and the odd note through the post. 1 probably felt I knew him better than he would have known me. Consequently, 1 was as distressed when he died as I would have been if he had been a much closer friend. What has made things worse, is that the programme's findings served only to underline the needlessness of this loss. The accident investigators found no evidence of mechanical failure and so the programme focused on the adequacy of the current industry regulations. Matthew Harding's family lawyers are bringing a massive compensation case against the pilot's company and are also considering suing the Civil Aviation Authority, which is the industry's regulator. The programme reported that this was one of 45 fatal helicopter crashes that have occurred over the last 10 years, which represents one about every twelve weeks. In all, about 90 people have been killed in this time. There have also been more than 280 non-fatal accidents over the same period, which is about one each fortnight. As we already know, John had been invited to accompany Matthew Harding on his helicopter trip to the northwest. As well as being the popular Vice-Chairman of Chelsea Football Club, Harding was a keen Dylan fan and that explains the link with John. Chelsea were playing Bolton Wanderers in an F A Cup tie and John would have eagerly accepted the invitation to see them play his beloved Lancashire team. The plan was for them both to be back in London before the end of the day. Harding had hired a one-man air-taxi business to take him to seven of Chelsea's away games. For such busy people, the air taxi business provides quick and convenient travel. This fateful first trip began at 1.00 pm on 22 October, 1996 when the Eurocopter Twin Squirrel machine took off from Battersea Helipad in South London. On the way up to the match, there was a stopover at Per Lindstrand's balloon factory in Oswestry. The link here was that Lindstrand was preparing for Richard Branson's next ballooning expedition and this was to be insured by Harding's company. The group arrived in Bolton at four o'clock in the afternoon, landing in the car park of Warburton's bread factory and later making their way to the pre-Reebok Burnden Park ground. Chelsea lost the match but Harding was reported to have enjoyed himself John would have been delighted at his own team's giant killing success. The helicopter took off at 9.27 pm for the journey back to London. By this time it was already dark. Initially the pilot followed the conspicuous route of the M6 to avoid high ground and cloud south of Manchester. He later changed his mind about the preferred route and it was here that the serious problems began. The central point in the programme was that the pilot had not been trained to fly using only the aircraft's instruments. He would have been competent to fly at night following the line of a well-lit motorway but not across dark, featureless, countryside. Mist may have added to his problems. It later transpired that one of his two artificial horizons may not have even been switched on and he could have been confused as to which one was giving the correct reading. He had the added distraction of having to cope with a door that opened mid-flight. One astounding revelation was that the pilot was trying to follow the route using a road map and a hand-held torch. The pilot became increasingly disorientated and confused as he flew over rural Cheshire. Eyewitnesses saw the aircraft fly in a large circle over the villages of Winsford and Middlewich. It was flying at a very "nose-up"angle, possibly because of the lack of a selfcentering flight control stick which would have helped the pilot to maintain the aircraft in a level and stable attitude. The crash which followed was on farmland with the marks that the rotor blades had made still visible on the ground. The helicopter had then slid across the field for about 120 yards before hitting some trees. There was a poignant newsreel reminder showing a police superintendent at the scene of the crash holding part of a football programme that gave the first clue as to the identity of the victims. The Air Accident Investigation concluded that the pilot had been unable to control the aircraft by the flight instruments after he had lost sight of the ground. The aircraft was not fitted with an autopilot which would have allowed him to fly "hands-off' to preprogrammed commands. Only three weeks earlier, the same aircraft had flown Tony Blair back to London on a daylight flight from the Labour Party Conference in Blackpool. Surprisingly, the regulations do not require commercial helicopter pilots to be able to fly in the dark. Only instrument-rated pilots have this additional skill which enables them to fly their aircraft using only the instruments in their cockpit rather than having to depend on retaining visual contact with the ground. Matthew Harding's widow expressed her understandable horror that this was not a requirement for pilots flying passengers at night. Harding may not have known about this and so would not necessarily have asked the right questions when he hired this one-man business. Clearly, he could have afforded the higher calibre of pilot skill. The industry in general is against making this higher safety standard a commercial requirement. If you can see the ground for the duration of the flight by following well-lit roads, for instance, they feel that it should not be essential to go for the higher instrument rated skill level. However, if there are no visual features to confirm height and location there is inevitably a much greater dependence on the instrumentation. This particular pilot did start by following a route that provided a good view of the ground but for some reason decided to change his course even though he was not trained to cope with the conditions he encountered. Deteriorating weather conditions contributed to his problems. There was some feeling that the pilot was under considerable financial pressure to complete the journey even though it might have been against his better judgement given his level of training for the circumstances he would be facing. Lindstrand reported that he would not have flown in those weather conditions. To become instrument-rated requires considerable expensive training and this might be why the industry is against making it a requirement. It also opposes regulations to require autopilot facilities for night-time flying. On both these counts, the CAA supports the industry's view. Hence, the Harding family lawyers are examining whether there is also a case against them for allowing an unsafe regime to operate. There was a clear suspicion of a conflict of interest for the CAA. The members that it was supposed to regulate actually paid for its funding. Hence, it could be more interested in looking after the interests of its members rather than the safety of the passengers who flew with those members. The programme's conclusion was that a helicopter with an autopilot fitted and a pilot who was instrument-rated would have greatly reduced the likelihood of the accident occurring. So there we are. Echoes of Buddy Holly for the older readers. What a waste. Graham Wilkinson