Alistair Taylor was the personal assistant to The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, and later the general manager of Apple Corps.
He was born James Alistair Taylor in Runcorn, England on 21 June 1935. Taylor did National Service with the Royal Air Force and later worked in a number of jobs in Liverpool.
His fortunes changes after becoming a salesman at Brian Epstein’s NEMS shop at 12-14 Whitechapel, Liverpool. Epstein thought highly of Taylor and subsequently offered him a job as his personal assistant.
After a Liverpool resident, Raymond Jones, had ordered The Beatles’ single My Bonnie from NEMS, Epstein decided to see them perform at the Cavern Club. He took Taylor to the venue on 9 November 1961, and shortly afterwards became the group’s manager.
For reasons unknown, Taylor later claimed to have made up the name Raymond Jones in order to follow the ordering procedure at NEMS. At the time it was necessary to have a name next to each order, and Taylor wished to stock the single.
However, the story is unlikely to be true. Jones did exist, and was later thanked by Epstein for introducing him to The Beatles’ music. Read an interview with Raymond Jones from August 2010.
After the lunchtime show Epstein and Taylor entered The Beatles’ dressing room. Epstein saw them perform a number of times during the next few weeks, and on 10 December 1961 suggested he become their manager.
The Beatles signed a five-year management contract on 24 January 1962. Taylor also signed the contract, although Epstein didn’t, as he wanted The Beatles to be able to leave if they were ever unhappy with the arrangement.
In 1962 Taylor left NEMS to work for Pye Records in London, but returned the following year as general manager for an annual salary of £1,000. His duties were to Epstein, The Beatles and to the other acts managed by the company, in addition to the dozens of staff members.
Shortly after the death of Brian Epstein in August 1967, Taylor was asked by The Beatles to become Apple Corps’ general manager.
Taylor appeared in an advertisement with the headline “This man has talent”, which solicited musical contributions from members of the public. The advertisement was published in the New Musical Express and Rolling Stone magazine, and resulted in thousands of replies.
Following his time with The Beatles, Taylor worked in various jobs before retiring. He appeared regularly in Beatles conventions around the world, and in 1998 took part in the BBC documentary The Brian Epstein Story.
He co-wrote two books: Yesterday: The Beatles Remembered (1988) was written with Martin Robers, and was reissued as Yesterday: My Life With The Beatles. A Secret History: An Inside Account Of The Beatles’ Rise And Fall (2003) was later reissued With The Beatles.
Taylor made a series of four audio tapes titled From Cavern To Rooftop, From Strawberry Fields To Magical Mystery Tour, Remembering Brian, and Inside Apple. He also collaborated on an authorised biography, Hello Goodbye: The Story Of Mr Fixit, by George Gunby.
Alistair Taylor died in his sleep in Chesterfield, Derbyshire on 9 June 2004, following a short bronchial illness.