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Reference Library: The Passing of Derek Taylor

From: Matt Hurwitz (
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 him.

"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: (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 your money"....

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 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 these days.

A suitable ending, I think!

"It was the great glory of the Beatles that they could absorb
and transmute so much!"
saki (

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