Sunday, November 29, 2009

Salt Lake City DJ treasures one of Lennon's last autographs

John Lennon » Local DJ has held onto record, with one of ex-Beatle's last signatures, for 29 years.

By Ben Fulton
The Salt Lake Tribune

After more than 40 years working in radio, a person is bound to collect lots of memorabilia along the way.

Wooly Waldron, who now works weekend shifts for 103.5 The Arrow, is no exception. Except he tends to lose track, or just plain lose, items that would make most music collectors rabid.

His five original Elvis Presley 45 RPM records pressed on the original Sun label were sold years ago. Waldron also once owned a hen's-tooth-rare radio promotional copy of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." Hell if he knows where it is now.

The one collector's item to which he's held tight was one he did not even remember he had, until he rummaged through his old records almost 10 years ago.

"It was one of those finds that just sweeps over you--a 'Wow' kind of thing," Waldron said. "Once I discovered where it was, I knew I wasn't getting rid of it."

Pulling the vinyl LP sleeve from his original copy of John Lennon's 1980 album "Double Fantasy," Waldron saw the ex-Beatle's famous cartoon signature, plus the call letters KCPX, the Salt Lake City dual-band station he worked for in 1980.

The album was mailed to Waldron by record executive friend Bert Keane, who accompanied San Francisco DJ Dave Sholin into Lennon and wife Yoko Ono's New York City home for a Dec. 8 interview. Later that day, and after a Rolling Stone shoot with photographer Annie Leibovitz that preceded Lennon's interview with Sholin, the pop star was murdered by Mark David Chapman.

Waldron opened the signed LP just weeks after Lennon's assassination, recalling that it was meant as a possible promotional item for the station to be given away to some lucky caller. The record evokes memories of that year every time he handles it, Waldron said, especially now that the 29th anniversary of Lennon's death is fast approaching.

"I knew I couldn't do anything with it. Beatles fans were still reeling," Waldron said. "For fans and people in the music business, it was very much like the Kennedy assassination. You knew where you were when you heard the news and remember it today."

So the album stayed stashed away for almost 20 years. Today, Waldron no longer keeps it at home, but stored in a safe at an undisclosed location.

Waldron has shown the signed LP to a select few people, mostly family and radio station colleagues.

"He took it out of his satchel briefcase one day and I damned near passed out," said Sue Kelley, program director at 103.5 The Arrow. "It's a museum piece."

Waldron said he still has no definitive plans for the record, except to hold onto it until he does. "Maybe I'll donate it to charity for an auction," he said. "After all these years, I'm still thinking of promotion."


'Double Fantasy'

"Double Fantasy" is the comeback album by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, released just three weeks before Lennon's death on Dec. 8, 1980. In the aftermath of the murder of Lennon, who was mourned worldwide, the work won the 1981 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. A copy of "Double Fantasy" signed by Lennon for Mark David Chapman, his murderer, who was later sentenced to life in prison, sold in 2003 for $525,000 -- the most valuable single record in history.

Source: BBC News