A tribute to Derek Taylor, 1932 - 1997

(Including memories of Derek by those who knew him)


Derek Taylor

DEREK TAYLOR 1932 - 1997

(The text of the official Apple announcement)

NEW YORK, Sept. 8 -- 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 7th 1932. He was educated in the city and became a journalist 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 spectacle 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 Savile Row, from where he befriended all comers and addressed the world until the break-up of The Beatles in 1970.

Derek then joined Warner, Elecktra and Atlantic Records, rising to 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.

In the mid-80s 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-media 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 and 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, he 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 furor 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 actually came to 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 (Sept. 12, 1997).


In an interview by the Associated Press two years ago, Taylor said of the Beatles, ''I knew they were wonderful. What I didn't know was there were four of them and they could hide away, whereas there was only one of me.''

At home, he had to live with ''phones under cushions and permanently off the hook, and if they weren't off the hook, they rang 24 hours a day. There was no peace.''

''Nobody ever escapes the Beatles,'' he said. ''Unless they behave dishonorably, they never get away. It is for life.''

''I always had a romantic view that the thing should, if possible, be able to continue.

"There should always be a Beatles.''


Derek Taylor ... as recalled by those who knew him

We sincerely thank those who have allowed us to share their memories of Derek Taylor with you. These were sent to us by them and are exclusive to Abbeyrd's Beatles Page.

From Diana Vero Palmer, secretary to Brian Epstein in 1964:

"I worked with him closely in 1964, typing "A Cellarful of Noise" while Derek dictated. In fact, Derek was the reason I moved to Los Angeles in 1965. He was my American sponsor and I was supposed to have worked with him. That didn't work out however, but I will still remember him fondly from that crazy year, 1964, when we were all riding on the crest of a giant wave that we didn't even realise would be still going strong 30 years later. My deepest sympathies go to his wife, Joan and his children."

Diana Vero Palmer
Brian Epstein's secretary in 1964

From Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys:

This statement from Brian Wilson was read at Derek Taylorís funeral:

September 8, 1997

"I just heard the news that we've all lost a great friend of music, Derek Taylor."

"When I first met Derek in 1966, I was immediately impressed by his great mind and his fantastic wit. I just knew that I had to convince him to come work his magic for us. And he did. Derek Taylor had as much to do with the success of "Pet Sounds" and "Good Vibrations" in England as anybody, including me, and for that alone, I'm forever indebted. But besides all the great publicity he created for our music, during the time we worked together, we had so much fun, so many laughs, munched so many great hamburgers together. And despite what he wrote about me, it was Derek Taylor who was the genius. HE was a genius writer. He had an unerring instinct about what was important, about what people would want to know and a stylish way of saying it that was as classy as the man himself."

"Derek was the one who came up with the term "pocket symphony" to describe "Good Vibrations." He encapsulated the record perfectly! I admired the way he could express things."

"We've lost many great people in recent days so I hope his death isn't overlooked. He was a jovial type person, a happy person. I know I'll never forget him."

Brian Wilson

From Roger McGuinn of the Byrds:
"It was my great pleasure to have worked with Derek Taylor, he made touring fun! My favorite memory of touring with him was when he arranged a meeting between the Byrds and the Beatles. We were in London at a small club and Derek booked a hotel room above the venue. Derek arranged for John, Paul and George to meet us in that room after our performance. We were ardent fans of the Beatles, we were ecstatic! It was the wit and charm of Derek Taylor that kept us from being completely overwhelmed by the situation. We will all miss him very much!"

All the best ..... Roger (http://mcguinn.com/)

From David Crosby of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash (and Young):
(This was originally posted on America Online and is reposted here with Mr. Crosby's permission)

"Derek was a good, funny, irreverent,and inventive man. He was a good friend to me and to The Byrds. I'm sorry he's gone and I'm sure all the surviving Beatles and Byrds will miss him."

From Mark Lindsay, former lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders:
"When I received the news that Derek had passed on, I was deeply saddened. The bright candles seem to flicker out much too soon."

"I was very fortunate indeed to have spent time with Derek in the mid-sixties when he was press agent for the Raiders. On many occasions (now far too few), I would drop by to "visit." He would summon me into his office with the unique greeting, "Lindsay! Come here -- sit down -- listen to this!" And I would be treated to a reading of his latest "dispatch."

"I remember vividly one sunny afternoon when I first heard his liner notes for our upcoming "Spirit of '67" album. Derek's laser-blade wit had skillfully guided his tongue-in-cheeky pen through inky pots of honey and vinegar, and blotted it all with Orwell-In-Wonderland. As he read the last few words of the clever piece, his eyes smiled at me over his glasses and he asked, "Well, Lindsay, what do you think . . . ?"

"Derek Taylor was a brilliant man and a gentleman and I, like so many others, will greatly miss him."

Mark Lindsay (http://www.marklindsay.com)

From Jimmy Webb, songwriter:
(This was originally posted on America Online and is used here with Mr. Webb's permission)

"I always thought I would save writing about Derek Taylor for my memoirs, but it seems that it's a little too late for that. Derek was the dapper, moustached trench-coated war correspondent of rock'n'roll. He was the ultimate hater of elitists and crooked men like Nixon or anyone of that ilk that he could rightfully target his pristine intellectual contempt upon. When he was at Warner Bros. Records in London, and I believe he was running the place, though it never really seemed to matter much, Harry Nilsson and I went out and bought the oldest upright piano, a piano with built-in brass candlesticks and rococo filigree, a true out of tune beast of an old piano and moved it into his office, but God!, he enjoyed it so. Harry & I or Gerry (Beckley) and I would arrive in the afternoon, high on some idea or another and burst into Commander Taylor's office and pound the piano straight away. He had a small balcony outside his office and we would look down on the street and decide after a while perhaps to richochet into a nearby pub. There he would sit, impassively for the most part, and listen to our latest adventures.

"I remember the day I told him David Geffen had hired me to produce Cher's album. It had been a rough couple of years for me. He smiled at me at that point and said, "You're a buoyant man, Jimmy." I have remembered that many times in many a dark and stormy sea, I have heard that clipped journalistic cultivated, cool British accent say "You're a buoyant man, Jimmy." I remember the first time I came to the Royal Albert Hall to play a concert with the London Philharmonic and that because Derek was dealing with all us artists at Warner Bros., he had decided on his own to cover the stage of the Royal Albert Hall with flowers - and he did. He also made sure that George Harrison attended, along with certain members of the Royal Family. He was so very splendid about ironing out the elitism. He spent some time in California and I remember one of the first things he did after arriving there was to stand up and announce my appearance live on the oh so elitist and hip "Midnight Special."

"I spent one night in his house in Sudbury with Harry and he enjoyed so much playing his ancient 78's of the castratas and other records, obscure and intelligent and stimulating into the depths of the night. He and Harry and me, sitting in front of the fireplace drinking exceptional port as he shocked and surprised, as when he suddenly flourished the skull and crossbones SS ring that had once belonged to Heinrich Himmler. I remember thinking at the time, "only Derek could hold this thing without being harmed," and I must add that it had come to him accidently, handed to him by a member of the Rolling Stones Revue which had just passed through Munich.

"Derek's poetry was exceptional and I wish I could recall the jaggedy little poem he wrote about southern California shopping center parking lots that Harry used to recite with such relish and exquisite attention to detail. Now there was a pair, Harry and Derek. They were dark-side-of-the- moon twins, those two. And what a delicious tiny little private victory of my own life to have been allowed to sit between those two men and watch the cosmic gears grind while the stars flashed overhead. They must be together, if there is any order in the Cosmos. They must have staked out a tidy little pub somewhere over on the east side of Paradise, and they must be sitting there now laughing, not in an unkind way, about my pathetic efforts to describe how dear this fellow was. How dry his wit, how deliciously deep his soul, and how impeccable and unswerving his honesty, his honor, his love for his family, his turn of phrase, his wry smile, his unexpected noble gesture.

Goodnight Sweet Prince,

Love, Jimmy"

From Allan Kozinn, New York Times reporter and author of "The Beatles":

"I was lucky enough to have spent some time with Derek Taylor -- a short interview followed by a long lunch in 1987, when he was in New York to promote his book, "It Was 20 Years Ago Today," and an even longer lunch and several afternoons in October 1995 when I was in London to write about the Anthology. I can only say the same thing everyone else who met Derek says: he was a very lovely and very funny man. Who else but Derek Taylor could issue the following as a press release upon the Beatles' breakup: "Spring is here and Leeds play Cheshire tomorrow and Ringo and John and George and Paul are alive and well and living in hope. The world is still spinning and so are we and so are you. When the spinning stops, that'll be the time to worry. Not before." Classic Derek, isn't it? Besides all that, he was a man who had seen an awful lot of fascinating times, and spoke about them vividly. Fortunately for anyone who didn't have the opportunity to speak with him, he wrote about them vividly as well, and if you can possibly get your hands on his books "As Time Goes By," "Fifty Years Adrift" and "It Was 20 Years Ago Today," what will read there is exactly the way Derek was."

From Bill King, publisher of Beatlefan:

"I was fortunate enough to have lengthy conversations with Derek Taylor a number of times over the past 15 years, the first being at the Mersey Beatle Extravaganza in Liverpool in 1982. He always was extremely helpful and talked and wrote with such grace, qplomb and wit. As we said a couple of issues back, if Neil Aspinall is the brains of Apple, Derek was the soul. And the heart. His love for the Fabs always showed. He was the ultimate Beatle fan but with a journalist's eye for detail. As he told me about his books, "I wouldn't distinguish what I do as literature. But it comes from the heart." It's a real shame that one of the best books ever written about The Beatles, "Fifty Years Adrift", remains unavailable to most people because it only ever was published in a very limited edition. Genesis would do well to honor Derek's memory by issuing a trade edition. We'll have a special tribute to Derek in the upcoming Beatlefan. I'll miss him."

From Matt Hurwitz, publisher of Good Day Sunshine:

"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 knowledgeable, 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."

From Richard Porter, president of the London Beatles Fan Club:
"Derek Taylor was undoubtedly the biggest Beatles fan in the world. I was lucky enough to meet him a couple of times at Apple in 1995 when I helped an American TV station with their "Anthology" coverage. I found Derek to be a charming man who obviously loved the Beatles.Though it was obvious even then that he wasn't well, his great sense of humour shone through and he treated what must have been his 100th interview as if it was his first."

"Derek will be sorely missed by everyone at the London Beatles Fan Club."

Richard Porter

From Rod McLean Barken, a former employee and friend:
"I worked for Derek Taylor, was in fact the first person hired for his publicity firm, Prestige Promotions, when he migrated to Los Angeles in 1965. I was, from the start, in awe of him; later, I came to love him, not in some perverse way but as the student adores the teacher. Through some sort of osmosis I sought his wisdom, his persona, and his marvelous gift with words... and people. He was generous in that respect, and things learned then have stayed with me well into my middle age.

"In later years Derek would achieve near-cult status, but in the beginning he was simply a man, a thin, worried figure hobbling about in a tweedy sport coat, a Camel always dangling from his lips or fingers, beset by the notoriety (disdained) of his association with the Beatles. "It's not *me* they bloody want," he one day said, "it's that I fucking know the Beatles!"

"Work came slowly to our office in those early days: at first it was Jerry Naylor, then Cornell Gunther and a high-kicking dancer or two, and, finally, Paul Revere and The Raiders. Work, real work, at last! We published a newspaper ("The KRLA Beat") for Cecil Tuck.

"Once Derek had finished being squired about town and introduced to anyone and everyone that could somehow benefit his benefactors, he settled into his work as a publicist without peer. And then, out of the blue, came The Byrds!

"It was, really, The Byrds that set fire to his imagination, that animated him and exhilarated him. God, how he loved their music! Derek was there from the very beginning and he craftily spun the web that would continue to envelope that marvelous band throughout their all-too-brief career. (That The Byrds live on is, in no small part, to Derek's eternal credit: this I firmly believe.) How many nights did we all, the entire staff and as many onlookers as we could attract, troop down Sunset Boulevard to Ciro's, to stand side by side and bounce to the music of this wonderful band? Countless ones.

"I lost track of Derek after Monterey, when his star burnt a bit too brightly, and when all around there was madness. A Christmas card from Joan, I recall, when I was at Cape Kennedy, and then nothing until the notice that they'd returned to England and the Beatles' fine Apple Corps. I wrote a few times but never got a reply; the divergent highways had carried us too far apart. How sad.

"To Joan, his widow, and to his extremely well-loved children, I'd like to pass along something a certain Byrd used to always say: "I trust everything will work out all right." God bless."

From Liam Donnelly:
"I had the great pleasure of being offered an interview by Derek in late 75 at his UK Warner office."

"I had no 'credentials' other than a real passion to write about The Beach Boys and he very kindly granted me all the time I needed - and more. He talked with a wonderfully bright and enthusiastic mind about his time with the group and delightfully wandered into discussions about working for The Beatles and others too. "

"He represents to me a wonderful memory of the heady days when the music that we loved really meant a lot to us - and people like Derek added greatly to our enjoyment of the whole era.

"I have the fondest memories of meeting him. I want to wish his family well and say, "Goodbye Derek - time has gone by." "

Liam Donnelly/ShepSoft@aol.com

Links to pages with some connection to Derek Taylor

Tribute to Derek on Python Online website written by Eric Idle.

Sam the Sham's Home page, with an article by Derek published in 1965 called "Wooly Bully Mystery."

Philm Freax Digital Archive - Derek Taylor, photos and memories of Derek from someone who met him in the '60s.

Our hearts go out to Derek's family. He was an incredible man.

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