Beatles Press Officer Tony Barrow, Creator of the Term ‘Fab Four,’ Dies
Tony Barrow, who worked as the Beatles press officer from 1962-68, died yesterday (May 14) at his home in Morecambe, England. He had turned 80 only three days prior. The cause of death is unknown at this time.
Born in the Liverpool suburb of Crosby in 1936, Barrow, by 1961, had been working for Decca Records writing liner notes while pseudonymously contributing record reviews to the Liverpool Echo. According to the Telegraph, manager Brian Epstein contacted him about covering the Beatles in the paper. Since the group didn't yet have a record deal, he refused, but he did help set up the group's Jan. 1, 1962 audition with the label, which they famously failed.
After the group signed with EMI and released "Love Me Do," Epstein lured Barrow away from the label by offering twice what he was making at Decca to become a full-time employee, working not just on the Beatles, but Epstein's stable of Liverpool acts like Cilla Black and Gerry and the Pacemakers. His duties included such tasks as setting up interviews, creating the cartoon in the Magical Mystery Tour booklet and writing both sleeve notes for their early albums and features for the Beatles Monthly magazine that would be attributed to the band.
The flexi-discs that they sent out every Christmas starting in 1963 was Barrow's idea, as a way of apologizing to the fan club's members for not being able to deal with the backlog of fan mail they were receiving. But it was a press release where his most lasting contribution to their history was made, when he coined the term "Fab Four" to refer to the group.
Barrow left the Beatles in 1968, a year after the death of Brian Epstein, and formed his own public relations company, where he worked with the Kinks, the Monkees and the Jackson Five. In 2005, he published a memoir of his time with the Beatles called John, Paul, George, Ringo & Me. He is survived by his wife, Corrine, and their two sons.
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