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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Saturday, October 22, 2011


photograph by M Walker

Today is the 15th anniversary of the untimely death of John Bauldie. He was only 47. Here is his entry from The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia:

Bauldie, John [1949 - 1996]
John Stewart Bauldie was born on August 23, 1949. He is best known as the founder and editor of The Telegraph, the finest Dylan fanzine there’s ever been, and one of the earliest and longest running. It was the best because of the vision of what it could be, which Bauldie kept in his head, and constantly extended, and conjured into reality, starting from a stapled booklet of typed print on cheap paper, all black and white, totalling 20 small pages, in November 1981, and becoming a professional-looking, authoritative but quirky, properly-bound quarterly in full colour.

Early on, though, The Telegraph became more than a publication: it became an essential part of the Dylan follower’s world. This happened before the internet and the mobile phone   -  indeed in a world that had only recently acquired the fax machine. Dylan’s 1978 European tour, his first for twelve years, was a great stimulus to a renewed need for afficionados to build means of contact and cameraderie. And then a first Bob Dylan Convention took place, in Manchester (conveniently close to Bauldie’s home), in 1979.

John Bauldie’s immense contribution began in the wake of these events, though he had been listening to Dylan since 1964 and had started collecting taped rarities from late 1969, stimulated by an article by Greil Marcus in Rolling Stone that opened John’s eyes to the existence of such things. He wrote to Marcus, who sent him a tape of Dylan’s 1966 Liverpool concert to start him off collecting. He was aided by ‘two good friends, Rob Griffith and Michael Krogsgaard’ and encouraged by coming across the first American fanzine, Talkin’ Bob Zimmerman Blues, run by Bryan Styble. That folded in 1979, just when that first Dylan convention was happening. As John put it: ‘Here were 600 people whose interest had brought them from all over the world: here were writers and critics who didn’t have a forum; here were fans who were not kept informed by an increasingly negligent music press.’

Bauldie’s founding idea was thus to create a distribution network to circulate news and exchange information, and to sneak a quality Dylan journal into existence on the back of it.

This outfit became Wanted Man, The Bob Dylan Information Service, involving a number of fans in North-West England, and it was this outfit that published The Telegraph, offered a telephone hotline and distributed Ian Woodward’s incessant logging of Dylan news and rumour, The Wicked Messenger. In the early years, Clinton Heylin was its news editor.

For a while, too, there was a Dylan mail-order bookselling unit, the Wanted Man Bookshelf, but this was eventually replaced by a similar but separate enterprise, My Back Pages, run by Dave Heath & Dave Dingle. For some time the latter also took over editorial control of an annual summer issue of The Telegraph while John Bauldie holidayed in Greece; these issues always emphasised how crucial Bauldie himself was to its character. His achievement as editor was multi-skilled but at its core was an ability to keep the whole thing sharp and sane - sane in spite of the necessary fananticism.

He was not, himself, interested solely in Bob Dylan. He was also keen on Phil Ochs, David Blue, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Roger McGuinn and a number of other singer-songwriters, and was himself an amateur guitarist and songwriter. He was also a football devotee with a lifelong loyalty to the romantically-named Bolton Wanderers. A well-educated man, he had been a lecturer in English Literature at a higher-education college in the north of England.

John Bauldie’s own writing, as well as his editing, was a vital part of his Dylan enterprise and in the magazine’s quest for an ever-improving quality of contribution, he led by example, with work that was witty and generous-minded yet rigorous and brightly acute, whether it was essays about Dylan’s work, investigations into events like the 1966 motorcycle crash or pieces that fused the two, as for instance with a scrutiny of the Desire album collaboration between Dylan and Jacques Levy.

Around the time of the filming of the Hearts of Fire movie, John and the magazine moved to London and he took a job working on the editorial side of Q magazine, becoming its Hi-Fi Editor before leaving, shortly before his death, to move across to another national glossy magazine, House and Garden.

By this point, he was also the author and editor of a number of Dylan books and booklets, the first of which had been booklet no. 2 in his own Wanted Man Study Series, an essay on Bob Dylan and Desire. In 1987 he co-edited with [me] the first best-of selection from the magazine, All Across The Telegraph: A Bob Dylan Handbook, and later came the second volume, edited by Bauldie alone, Wanted Man: In Search of Bob Dylan. In 1991, with veteran British music journalist Patrick Humphries he produced the postmodernly titled Oh No! Not Another Bob Dylan Book, re-titled Absolutely Dylan: An Illustrated Biography for the US market. A worthier work, though disappointing in its design and print quality, was the fascinating and important self-published limited-edition hardback The Ghost of Electricity, 1988, about the Dylan of the 1966 tour (republished in smaller-format paperback in 1993). There was also a collection of John’s on-the-road pieces into the small-print-run 90-page book Diary of a Bobcat, 1995.

Finally, however, Bauldie became the first Dylan writer honored with recognition by Dylan’s own office when he was asked to produce  -  and under near-impossible conditions   -  a booklet of liner-notes for the first of the official Bootleg Series of Dylan record releases, The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3: resulting in the work of his that will have been by far the most widely read, and which almost won him a Grammy. It can still be accessed on the Dylan website,

John Bauldie was killed with four others in a helicopter crash late on the evening of October 22, 1996, while traveling back to London from a football match in which his beloved Bolton Wanderers had just beaten Chelsea, whose Vice-Chairman had chartered the helicopter that killed them. An inquest returned a verdict of accidental death on February 25, 1998 - by which time the UK civil aviation authorities had already put in place extra safety rules for helicopter flights, prompted by this crash. John Bauldie was 47. The ownership of his literary estate is still in doubt.

[John Bauldie: Bob Dylan and Desire, Wanted Man Study Series no.2, Bury UK, 1983; The Ghost of Electricity, Romford UK, self-published 1988; Wanted Man: In Search of Bob Dylan, London, Black Spring Press, 1990; liner-notes, The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3, Columbia Legacy, New York, 1991; Diary of a Bobcat, Romford, Wanted Man, 1995. Co-editor with Michael Gray: All Across The Telegraph: A Bob Dylan Handbook, London, W.H.Allen, 1987; and co-author with Patrick Humphries: Oh No! Not Another Bob Dylan Book (UK: Square One Books, 1991), aka Absolutely Dylan: An Illustrated Biography (New York; Viking Studio Books, 1991). Editor of The Telegraph, first from Bury and then Romford UK, 1981-1996. The quotes from John Bauldie above are taken from his article ‘Introduction: All Across The What?’, intended for inclusion in All Across The Telegraph, ibid, but unused. A contents-list of each issue of The Telegraph is still online at, though its hyperlinks no longer work.] 

The only essential update is that administration of John's literary estate has now been sorted out and is in the hands of Margaret Garner (


Anonymous Rambling Gambling Gordon said...

Yes, The Telegraph was so good because John Bauldie did indeed remain true to his vision of it – his mark was everywhere, regardless of who the author of any particular article was. No other Dylan magazine, including the one that replaced it, has come close to it because none has been able to capture its spirit, a spirit that what was neatly summed up by the cricketer Bob Willis in his introduction to the first selection, All Across The Telegraph:

“...this book tackles Dylan in the right spirit, with the eccentric mix of emotions you actually get from listening to the records. It catches something of the fun, and the exuberant extremism, as well as the sense of awe and the intensity, which all comes into the real experience of being a Dylan enthusiast.”

The Telegraph was never po-faced and never dreary. There are yards of books available on Dylan but few writers write about him in a way that is both a pleasure in itself and which makes you return to his work with renewed interest and a renewed sense of discovery. John Bauldie was one of them.

3:39 pm  
Anonymous Ελλάδα said...

I absolutely love this CD! My favorite track is And Winter Came. Next would be Trains and Winter Rains. The others are phenomenal as well. An earlier post stated this CD has a feel of cynical commercialism. If you go to her web site and listen to her explanation of this CD she states she wanted to do a more modern take on Christmas carols. Now days unfortunately commercialism at Christmas time is just about every where you turn. The only grievance I have with this CD is I miss when in her earlier work she would blend her native Celtic tongue with English and this CD is predominately English. Other than that I would definitely call this CD a winner!

4:11 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My good Greek friend, what has Enya got to do with John Bauldie? Is there some sort of connection I've missed?

Those old days of getting the Telegraph through the mail and listening to the Wanted Man Hotline will never be repeated. Now everything's on the Net for free and nobody knows the value of anything. Give me back the days when I had to scour the record fairs for Dylan boots. When I would get Dylan news through the post, and the mainstream media mostly ignored him. Enya Chistmas CDs? Humbug to that, and humbug to this great mass of mostly worthless information we call the Net. John Bauldie, there was a man with Christmas in the heart.

11:52 am  

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