Reference Library: The Passing of Derek Taylor
From: Matt Hurwitz (GDS1964@aol.com)
Subject: Derek Taylor Dead
Date: 8 Sep 1997 17:42:48 GMT
I have some sad news for all of us - Derek Taylor has died.
I personally was fortunate enough to speak with him a few times in the
last couple of years, and found him to be everything everyone has ever
heard about him: kind, gentle, incredibly intelligent, very funny, very
knowledgable, and very personable. He was perhaps the greatest fan of
The Beatles, and with that, came great respect for us, the fans. I'll
definitely miss him, as I'm sure we all will.
- Matt Hurwitz
Publisher, Good Day Sunshine Magazine
Below is his official obituary and biography, which I received from
Apple this morning:
DEREK TAYLOR, The Beatles' friend and Press Officer across a span of 30
years, has died at his home in Suffolk after a long illness. He was 65.
Derek Taylor was born in Liverpool on May 7, 1932. He was educated in
the city and became a journliast for "The Hoylake and West Kirby
Advertiser" before joining "The Liverpool Daily Post & Echo." In 1962,
he became the showbusiness correspondent for the northern edition of
"The Daily Express," based in Manchester.
In 1958 he married Joan Doughty in Bebington, The Wirral.
On May 30th, 1963, Derek covered The Beatles' concert at The Manchester
Odeon. In his review in "the Daily Express" the next day he wrote:
"The Liverpool Sound came to Manchester last night, and I thought it was
magnificent. . . The spectable of these fresh, cheeky, sharp, young
entertainers in apposition to the shiny-eyed teenage idolaters is as
good as a rejuvenating drug for the jaded adult."
Following a number of subsequent exclusive interviews and reports on The
Beatles, Derek developed a close relationship with the group, ghosting a
weekly column by George for the "Express," and then ghosting Brian
Epstein's biography, "A Cellarful Of Noise."
In April 1964, Derek became Brian Epstein's personal assistant and
scriptwriter and The Beatles' Press Officer. He traveled with The
Beatles on their world tour of 1964, and then resigned and moved to
California, where - as a publicist - he represented The Byrds, The Beach
Boys, Captain Beefheart, Paul Revere and The Raiders and co-founded the
Monterey International Pop Music Festival of 1967.
In 1968, with the institution of Apple Corps, Derek returned to England
with his wife Joan and their children to become The Beatles' Press
Officer, casually establishing his legendary press "salon" at the Apple
building in Saville Row, from where he befriended all comers and
addressed the world until the break-up of The Beatles in 1970.
Derek then joined Warner, Elektra and Atlantic Records, risiing t vice
president at Warner Brothers in America by 1977. During this period, he
produced albums by George Melly, John Le Mesurier and Harry Nilsson.
In 1978, he left Warner Bros to become a writer. Derek wrote and
consulted on numerous books, among them George Harrison's biography, "I,
Me, Mine" and Michelle Phillips' "California Dreamin'," and his own
works, including "As Time Goes By," "Fifty Years Adrift" and "It Was
Twenty Years Ago Today."
In the mid-80's, Derek returned to Apple Corps, from where he
orchestrated and controlled the massively-successful launches of "The
Beatles Live at the BBC" and, perhaps rock and roll's greatest
multi-meida success of all time, "The Beatles Anthology."
Derek Taylor leaves a wife, Joan, and children Timothy, Dominic, Gerard,
Abigail, Vanessa and Annabel - and thousands of friends.
Sir Paul McCartney paid tribute to Derek today. He said: "He was a
beautiful man. It's a time for tears. Words may come later."
Paul McCartney's publicist and Derek Taylor's "Anthology" press
assistant Geoff Baker commented today: "Derek leaves a thousand
friends. Derek was not only the World's Greatest Press Officer, eh was
also one of the funniest, kindest and most decent men you could have
met. All who did meet him, loved him. IN 1969, The Beatles sang "and
in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make" - Derek
Taylor was the proof of that equation."
Rupert Perry, Chairman of the EMI Records Group, UK & Ireland, said
today: "The untimely death of Derek Taylor is a sad loss for our
industry and especially for those of us at EMI privileged to have known
"During his years holding the outside world together during the crazy
days of Apple at 3 Savile Row, and more recently as the constant voice
of sanity and reason amidst the furore of The Beatles' 'new' recordings
and reunions, Derek's calmness and infinite charm and wisdom cooled many
a hot head. Despite his illness, Derek continued to provide support to
The Beatles, Apple and EMI, and we will remember him with great
affection and gratitude."
David Hughes, head of communications at EMI, said: "I felt I knew derek
Taylor before I actually did. While working on "Disc & Music Echo" in
the Sixties, Derek's wild weekly column from Los Angeles became the most
eagerly-anticipated words of any music writer of the time. When in
recent years, I came to actually know him, it was as if we had been
friends for all those 30 years. I will not see his like again."
A private funeral for Derek Taylor will be held in Suffolk on Friday.
From: email@example.com (saki)
Subject: Re: Derek Taylor died
Date: Tue, 9 Sep 1997 04:37:22 GMT
Very sad news indeed in a week burgeoning with sorrowful news.
[the death of Princess Diana -dh]
My memories of Mr. Taylor are personal ones. I was writing and article
several years ago on "Anthology". Mr. Taylor was my contact at Apple.
Great difficulties arose re: asking questions, much less getting them
answered. I had to fax my queries to Mr. Taylor first, to make sure the
Machine was ready with the correct spin. Or so it seemed.
Then it became very human.
Owing to the absurd time difference between the American west coast and
England's promised land, I had to set the alarm for 3am to make sure I
caught Mr. Taylor before luncheon (eight hours hence), after which (so I
was warned) I'd be less likely to find him ensconced at his desk but
rather captured in interminable meetings. Shades of "You never give me
So I did it all. Woke early to shake the cobwebs from my poor brain, to
think and speak clearly---without sounding incoherent, the legacy of a
once-innocent Beatles fan, and without the rapturous babble that would
surely suggest to the esteemed Mr. Taylor that he had made a dreadful
mistake in answering the phone.
I was calm. So was he. His voice was a mix of British gentrification and
grandparental solicitude. He was concerned about the time difference...and
also perhaps (now I realize!) he wasn't quite ready to answer all my
multi-layered questions without a bit more preparation!
So he told me, kindly, to go back to bed and rest. He said he'd promise to
be in his office if I called back at a decent hour of my morning (early
evening his time). And he was really there, ready to go down my list of
queries (not deviating from any of them, no matter how I noodged),
admitting that he'd passed the list onto Neil Aspinall, who *also* wasn't
quite sure...so they'd asked Mark Lewisohn to help out. Having stumped two
out of three Beatles people was a great thrill for me.
He was funny, witty, cautious, cordial, encouraging. It was the same
sensation I perceived in his prose---the lovely, light introductions to
each of the three "Anthology" CD packages. If you haven't read them
closely, or recently, I beg you to go back and do so now, as tribute to a
man who balanced the burdens of journalism and the intimacies
press-officership with pure fandom. Such juggling acts are rarely seen
A suitable ending, I think!
"It was the great glory of the Beatles that they could absorb
and transmute so much!"
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