In April 1970, he gave the official word on The Beatles’ split. “Spring is here and Leeds play Chelsea tomorrow and Ringo and John and George and Paul are alive and well and full of 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.”
Those two and a half years at Apple sorely tested his patience and his belief, but again he remained both a participant and a keen observer. These skills were displayed for all to see in two wonderful books, As Time Goes By and Fifty Years Adrift which, published in 1973 and 1984 respectively, are essential reading. Taylor had a sure sense not just of stardom and its fascinations, but also the other people who greased the industry’s wheels: the producers; the PR men; the radio DJs; the promoters; the fans who brought along their scrapbooks and told their life stories.
The 1973 publication of As Time Goes By coincided with renewed interest in The Beatles’ reputation, which had plummeted after their acrimonious break-up in 1970. That year, the two “Red” and “Blue” double album compilations were released to heavy sales. Over the next decade, EMI would continue to release various compilations and “new” material, including the 1977 No1 album The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl, but the full rehabilitation would not occur until the Eighties.
Taylor had remained close to George Harrison, who contributed addenda to 1984’s Fifty Years Adrift, a limited-edition book that expanded the Sixties’ coverage of As Time Goes By. March 1987 saw the first part of The Beatles’ reissue programme on CD (Please Please Me up to Revolver) – a major phase of digital reissues – with the big event scheduled for the 20th anniversary of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in June. It was a huge hit, reaching No3 and staying in the charts for 49 weeks.
Taylor contributed to the celebrations with It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, an oral history of Sgt Pepper, the summer of love, Monterey pop and the psychedelic explosion that accompanied a summer 1987 Granada TV special. By the mid-Nineties, he had become the keeper of the flame, the public custodian of The Beatles’ legacy. Along with George Martin and Neil Aspinall, he was one of only three nonmembers of the band to be interviewed for the Anthology documentary.
Taylor’s revelation within the walls of the Manchester Odeon was binding for life. There was no turning back. Before anyone else, he understood the importance and the power of The Beatles as a cultural and social phenomenon that went way beyond the then traditional status of pop stars. As an insider, he was savvy enough to both keep notes and write down his memories before they faded. He both participated in the full possibilities of the late Sixties and remained an eloquent witness to the freedom and promises of those now-distant times.
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