A few days back James "Big Bucks" Burnett, proprietor of the world's only Eight Track Museum (for now ...), sent out a mass email asking for help scaring up a few bucks for a letter presently being sold at for $599.99 on the eBay. The seller's advertising it as: "THE WHO/PETE TOWNSHEND SIGNED ORIGINAL LETTER REAL! WOW." And you'll note the letter, dated March 18, 1985, and penned on Faber and Faber letterhead, is made out to one James Burnett. The very same. And he needs it back, which is why, among other things, he's discounting the collectible vinyl he has stashed away in a very impressive corner of Dolly Python.
In a February 5 emailed, Bucks explained the meaning behind the missive: "it pertains to the Ronnie Lane autobiography I was supposed to help Ronnie with." Says Bucks now, it's "the only existing evidence of my deal with Pete to help Ronnie Lane publish his autobiography, from '85, when I lived with him." Lane, that is, not Townshend. Alas, says Bucks, "Manager botched the deal." Always does.
Yesterday, after Bucks dispatched another plea for help, I sent him a few other questions about why he sold it in the first place, whether he can even tell for sure if this is the real thing and not a copy of his original and why he's now in such a panic to get it back. He explains ...
To whom did you sell the original letter? And why?
Pete wrote me 13 letters and a postcard in the '80s. He answers his fan mail like nobody's biz. Sold all but the postcard to an autograph dealer for good/quick money to raise recording funds for first Volares album in '90s. One of the letters recently turned up at a Hard Cock Cafe in Maryland -- a friend sent me a pic. Just discovered this one on eBay. Seller is reducing price from 600 to 450 if I can pay by 2/20. I made Xeroxes of all of them but God knows where they are -- and for this one, I want the original, to have, to hold and to scan.
By the way, I wrote Pete in '82 begging him to let me backstage, and he sent a letter authorizing me to come back after the show, which I did, which is how I finally met him. Science Faction.
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Are you sure the one on eBay is the real one?
Yep -- I asked where he got it, and he named the dealer I sold it to.
And why do you need it back?
For inclusion in a book my agent is shopping: Namedropper. It will be the story of me wasting my life meeting all my heroes. We are working on other concepts too, once which is nearing fruition. I need to take typing lessons and learn Word and shit.