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Bauldie, John

1949 - 1996

Editor of The Telegraph Dylan fanzine.

The Guardian, Friday October 25, 1996


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.


by Graham Wilkinson

A 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

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

The Telegraph

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