“Burning Deal” Turns 35

The "burning deal" photo, taken on the Warner Bros. Studios lot.

I’m sure all of us have albums that were important to us at pivotal times in our lives. I happen to have several, but none more than Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, which was released 35 years ago this week. The record is not only a true classic progressive rock album that gave me hours of listening pleasure over the years, but it actually served an instrumental role in finding me a wife.

The story goes like this: In 2003 I got a job at the Warner Bros. Studios lot in Burbank. During my first few months there I spent lots of time exploring the studio during lunch breaks. One spot near the massive Stage 16 proved enigmatic to me. Whenever I stood at the intersection looking north towards the commissary I was struck with an intense feeling of déjà vu.

A few weeks later I was going through a stack of old CDs when I saw the Wish You Were Here album with the famous “burning deal” cover, which features two men shaking hands, with one of the gentlemen lit on fire.

That’s when it hit me. The reason it felt like I had been to the spot by Stage 16 was because I had been there before, mentally of course, every time I looked at the cover of the Wish You Were Here album.

I met a WB co-worker named Kim at around the same time and took her to the spot one day during one of our first commissary “dates.” As we stood in the approximate spots as the gentlemen on the cover, a guy walking by us started cracking up. I asked him what he was laughing about and he told us that the guy on the cover was named Ronnie Rondell who just happened to be his uncle!

He gave me his uncle’s phone number and I later gave him a call. Ronnie was very friendly and told me that he was paid $500 for the shot, and that yes, he was really set on fire. I asked him if he got lots of requests for autographs, and he could only recall ever signing one CD previously. I later mailed a poster of the album cover to him, which he signed and mailed back to me. Stuntman Danny Rogers, the other guy in the picture, later autographed the poster as well. To the best of their knowledge, it was the first poster the both of them had ever signed.

Kim thought it was all pretty cool, and the dates continued. Two years later we were married and today the poster with the two autographs hangs in the hallway outside of our bedroom.

Thanks to Pink Floyd, the world got a classic album, and I got a unique piece of rock and roll memorabilia, to go along with a perfect wife.

The same spot today.

For more history of the Warner Bros. Studios lot, check out Images of America: Early Warner Bros. Studios, which I co-wrote with Hollywood historian Marc Wanamaker.

About deadwrite

Freelance writer, film historian, taphophile View all posts by deadwrite

12 responses to ““Burning Deal” Turns 35

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