Sunday, January 23, 2011

Derek Taylor

Derek Taylor, official press secretary for the Beatles, was born on May 7, 1932 and died on September 8, 1997. His career began as a journalist, and he wrote for the Liverpool Daily Post, the Sunday Dispatch, and the News Chronicle.

Taylor's path to becoming one of the Beatles inner circle is a classic study in coincidence. As a national journalist, Taylor was assigned to write a review of a Beatles concert, with editors expecting Taylor to produce an article that would satirize the alleged silly teenage infatuation with the Beatles and other rock groups gaining notoriety in Great Britain at the time. Taylor loved the Beatles' music, however, and he soon became a trusted friend within the group.

Taylor's editors decided to capitalize on his friendship with the Fab Four by running a column that would supposedly be written by one of the Beatles (with Taylor secretly designated as the ghostwriter). Harrison was chosen as the "Beatles columnist," but Harrison's interest in Taylor's columns led to a close collaboration between the journalist and the Beatle.

Brian Epstein was so impressed with Derek Taylor and his work that he hired the writer to handle all of the Beatles press releases in 1964 (and to serve as media liaison in general). He was kept busy during the Beatles first tour of America in 1964. For a brief time in 1964, he also became Brien Epstein's personal assistant. Additionally, he interviewed Epstein and worked as developmental editor for Epstein's autobiography, titled A Cellarful of Noise.

Taylor resigned these positions in the summer of 1964, choosing to move to California with a growing family, where he started a public relations company in 1965. He handled such notable groups as the Beach Boys, the Byrds, and Paul Revere and the Raiders.

In 1968, Taylor returned to England to work as press secretary for the Beatles' Apple Corps, Ltd. After leaving Apple, he worked for UK conglomerate WEA Records which, through the Kinney Corporation, marketed U.S. record labels such as Warner Brothers, Atlantic Records, and Elektra. During this phase of his career, Taylor worked with such luminaries as Carley Simon, Yes, America, and Neil Young. He also worked briefly in the late 1960s for A&M records in the United States.

His 1973 memoir is titled As Time Goes By. Working again as a developmental editor in 1980, he helped George Harrison on his autobiography I Me Mine.

In the 1980s, Taylor worked for Harrison's production company, called Handmade Films. He also worked on books with various Hollywood celebrities. He also penned a second memoir in 1983, titled Fifty Years Adrift (in an Open Necked Shirt).

Taylor's name is referred to in "The Ballad of John and Yoko" and in "Give Peace a Chance." Harrison also wrote a song about Taylor and his wife, called "Blue Jay Way." The fiends Harrison was waiting for one foggy night in Los Angeles were the Taylors, and Harrison quickly wrote the song while anticipating their arrival. Taylor was also one of the organizers of the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival.

At the time of his death in 1997, he was once again working for Apple, where he served as marketing director while various Beatles projects were being planned, including the release of the Beatles catalog on CD, Live at the BBC, and The Beatles Anthology series and CD set.

He was survived by his wife and six children.

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