Alistair Taylor on Visual Radio #81
|Birth name||James Alistair Taylor|
|Also known as||Mr. Fixit|
21 June 1935|
Runcorn, Cheshire, England
|Died||9 June 2004
Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England
|Occupations||Personal assistant, general manager|
James Alistair Taylor (21 June 1935 – 9 June 2004) was the English personal assistant of Brian Epstein who accompanied him to the Cavern Club when he first saw The Beatles play on 9 November 1961. Taylor later became General Manager of Apple Corps for a short period.
Born in Runcorn, Cheshire, Taylor served his time in the Royal Air Force and worked in a series of jobs as a mover, timber importer, and docker in the Liverpool Docks, before being successfully interviewed by Brian Epstein for a salesman job at North End Music Stores. Epstein liked Taylor so much that he decided to offer him a job as his personal assistant in the shop.
Alleged role in Epstein's discovery of the Beatles
|“||The truth is that we were being asked for My Bonnie but no one actually ordered it. Brian would order any record once we had a firm order for it. I thought that we were losing sales and I wrote an order in the book under the name Raymond Jones and, from that moment the legend grew.||”|
—A. Taylor, The Beatles Book, 1997
Taylor's elaborate claims of Jones as his pseudonym have since been undermined by author Spencer Leigh who located an actual person, Raymond Jones, for an article in Mojo magazine, and, in his book The Best of Fellas, expanded on the story, revealing that NEMS and Epstein had communicated with Jones to acknowledge their debt once the Beatles became famous. Renowned Beatles biographer Mark Lewisohn has since offered his opinion that the information given by Jones to Leigh is "verifiably accurate".
Taylor accompanied Epstein to the Cavern Club when he first saw the Beatles play on 9 November 1961. During the show Taylor met the Beatles, and his opinion was "..these four horrible young men on stage, dressed in black leather trousers, black jackets, smoking, drinking and making noise...", but also said "...they were charismatic and exciting" and "I thought they were sensational".
As Epstein's personal assistant, Taylor witnessed crucial moments in the Beatles' career and was present at the signing of the first contract with Brian (which Taylor signed as "In the presence of:").
In 1962, Taylor worked for Pye Records for 15 months, and moved to London (before the Beatles) due to his wife's asthma.
In 1963 Taylor returned to NEMS to work as general manager for £1,550 per annum.
The Beatles named him "Mr. Fixit" for his ability to find solutions to all the boys' needs. For example:
- Buying cigarettes
- Hiring limousines
- Devising escapes from Beatles' fans after their performances
- Organizing holiday trips
- Acting as consultant to Lennon for the purchase of Dorinish Island (Ireland) for £1,550.
- Being the middle-man in the purchase of High Park, the Scottish farm, for McCartney, Jane Asher, and Martha
- Renting the Magical Mystery Tour bus
- Resolving the copyright issues around the photographs of famous faces on Peter Blake's cover for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
- Arranging the money exchange in the unsuccessful purchase of the Greek island of Leslo (July 1967).
In December 1967, shortly after the death of Epstein on 27 August 1967, Lennon asked Taylor to work as General Manager for Apple.
It was during this period that Taylor appeared in the famous advertisement to promote Apple asking for new artists. Designed by Paul, it showed Taylor disguised as a one-man band, and claimed : "This man has talent...". The disguise was rented in Soho and Taylor was singing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" when the shot was made. The publication in the New Musical Express and Rolling Stone brought an avalanche of applicants.
During the rooftop "Get Back" concert, on 30 January 1969, Taylor was among the people in the street.
After the Beatles
Taylor was recruited by Dick James after leaving Apple to work with Elton John, then an emerging artist. Taylor promoted the singer's first two albums. He moved into record producing for a short time but, along with his wife, Lesley, whom he had married in 1959, he felt it was time for a change. In 1973 the couple moved to Darley Dale in Derbyshire and bought a two hundred year old cottage. It was to be their home for the next 30 plus years.
The couple ran a tea-room in nearby Lea and Alistair later worked in a factory and in a hotel before his retirement. He enjoyed participating in Beatles' fan conventions around the world and he regularly appeared on radio both in the UK and the US.
In the mid-1990s, Taylor created Mellor Beach Leisure Ltd. Taylor served as the "business development director", promoting a new musical act called SMOKE which featured Matt McKenzie (drums & backing vocals), Jo Wadeson (bass guitar & lead vocals) and Sam Genders (guitar & backing vocals). The company folded after the band broke up.
In 1998, he appeared in a documentary that was part of the British TV series Arena, in the episode "The Brian Epstein Story: The Sun Will Shine Tomorrow: Part 1". Tapes from a 1996 interview were used in a BBC documentary I Was There When The Beatles Played The Cavern in 2011.
He was the author of :
- Yesterday: The Beatles Remembered with Martin Robers, Pan Macmillan (7 April 1988), ISBN 0-283-99621-8
- Yesterday: My Life With the Beatles (a reedition of the last) Movie Publisher Services (July 1991) ISBN 1-55698-292-5
- A Secret History, an Inside Account of The Beatles' Rise and Fall, published in 2003. Blake (December 2001) ISBN 1-903402-24-7
- With the Beatles (a reedition of the last) John Blake Publishing, Limited (1 September 2003) ISBN 1-904034-73-X
Taylor collaborated in his official biography :
- Hello Goodbye: The Story of Mr. Fixit by George Gunby, Yesterday Once More (2001) ISBN 0-9542120-0-2
- "From Cavern to Rooftop" in which he spoke about his memories with interludes of Beatles music.
He made a series of six audio tapes with the titles of: "From Cavern to Rooftop" ; "From Strawberry Fields to Magical Mystery Tour" ; "Remembering Brian" ;"Inside Apple" ; "John" and "Paul". These are available as CDs from Yesterday Once More. Alistair also narrated "A Beatles Liverpool Guide - Walk and Drive".
- The "Beatles": Ten Years That Shook the World (Mojo Magazine Collection), Paul Trynka, Ed., Dorling Kindersley, London, 2006; ISBN 140531947X
- The Best of Fellas – The Story Of Bob Wooler, Liverpool’s First DJ, Spencer Leigh. Drivegreen Publications, 2002. ISBN 0 9543839 0 7
- "Raymond Jones interview". The Beatles Bible. August 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
- Interview by Juan Agüeras, in The Beatles Garden, fanzine of the Spanish Sergeant Beatles Fan Club, Nº 18, 1997
- The Beatles: A diary, Barry Miles, Omnibus Press, 1998, ISBN 978-0-7119-6315-3
- The Complete Beatles Chronicle, Mark Lewisohn, Chancellor Press, 1992, ISBN 1-85152-975-6