Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Link Between Johnny Paycheck and the Kennedy Assasination

I grew up in Dallas, Texas and vividly remember the assassination of JFK. Coincidentally, my father owned a bookstore that, for a time at least, became a kind of a hot spot for assassination conspiracy theorists. I can’t say that I have any more than a surface knowledge of the various conspiracy theories, but I do have a certain almost nostalgic appreciation for them.

Therefore I was amazed recently to read in the Wall Street Journal about a trial in a Dallas Court that pits Caruth Byrd, the son of the man who owned the Texas School Book Depository, against Aubrey Mayhew, who was Johnny Paycheck’s original produce, frequent co-writer and publisher through his Little Darlin’ label. Oddly enough, Mayhew also owns most of Charlie Parker’s copyrights.

Apparently Mayhew, who is now in his 80’s, is a long-time Kennedy collector, and at one point in the 1970’s, owned the building which housed the infamous Texas School Book Depository. Mayhew was going to start a museum until the city of Dallas rebuffed his efforts. (Dallas, being Dallas, has now turned the site into a huge tourist development). According to the Journal article when Mayhew realized that he would not be able to build his museum, he let the building go back to Byrd’s father, Colonel D. Harold Byrd. However, before he did so, he had workmen remove the “Sniper’s Perch” window from the Southeast corner of the building. Years before Colonel Byrd had done the same thing, although remarkably, he removed the wrong window.

Now in a post-modern twist to the whole affair, both Mayhew and the younger Byrd tried to sell their competing windows on eBay. This led to a suit wherein Mr. Byrd is seeking to compel the return of Mr. Mayhew’s window, claiming, among other things, that he did not have the right to remove it from the building in the first place.

I have litigated two copyright cases against Mr. Mayhew. As a music publisher he is quite litigious. In one case he was represented by counsel and in the other he represented himself pro se. I don’t know that I have ever seen a more tenacious litigant. I learned all about his association with Johnny Paycheck. I wish I had known about his Kennedy collection at the time

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