from: The Guardian, Friday October 25, 96


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.

Back to the page dedicated to John Bauldie