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Alistair Taylor

Alistair Taylor - Hello Goodbye

In May 2004 I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of hours with Alistair Taylor on a trip from his home in Matlock, Derbyshire to Liverpool. Alistair was known as The Beatles ‘Mr. Fix-it’ and was a vital cog in the day-to-day operation of NEMS Enterprises. He was Brian's P.A. and the man to whom John, Paul, George and Ringo turned if they needed anything.

As we collected him, he said that he was tired and that we weren't to be offended if he dropped off to sleep on the journey. Yes right, Alistair!

For the next two hours I enjoyed the company of one of the nicest men you could hope to meet. He was great fun, entertaining, and yet humble and full of stories. He didn't see the need to talk up his part in The Beatles' story, something he has been accused of. He spoke lovingly of his wife Lesley who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and their long and happy marriage. Sadly, within a matter of weeks, Alistair passed away, and was soon followed by his beloved Lesley.

Alistair was born in Runcorn, Cheshire, to the south of Liverpool, on 21 June 1935. After a brief spell in London, where he met Lesley, he returned north to work for a timber merchant, William Evans in Widnes, though this didn't satisfy him.

So Alistair, how did you come to work for Brian?

“I saw an advert in the local paper for a Sales Assistant in NEMS, ‘apply to Brian Epstein’. Naturally, I quickly answered the ad. When I met Brian, we got on really well and talked about all aspects of music. My love was always for jazz, which was different to Brian who loved classical music. At the end of the interview, which lasted for two hours, Brian said I was over-qualified for the position that was advertised and he couldn't pay me enough for the position on offer. My heart sank.

But then he said he wanted to employ me as his personal assistant, for £10 per week. I didn't really understand what he wanted, but of course I said yes! It was the beginning of a great relationship with Brian, which had its highs and lows. He sacked me four times, and I resigned a couple of times too!

Brian was gay. I knew that. He knew that I knew that, and it didn't matter. He knew I wasn't gay, and was happily married. It never interfered in our business relationship.”

Alistair's voice suddenly became more serious.

“At this point, I want to say something that has been edited out of interviews in the past. I loved Brian. It doesn't have to be complicated by homosexual overtones. It wasn't like that. I loved him. He was awkward, irritating, annoying and frustrating, but I loved him. Full stop.

Once I had started working there, Brian and I had a little bet on each big record coming out. We would have to say if it was going to be a hit or not. Needless to say, even though he didn't like pop music, he could hear a hit a mile away. I rarely got it right; I can't remember him getting it wrong, ever! The bet was only a G & T (Gin and Tonic) but he was incredible.

He introduced this remarkable system of record ordering with these little tags so that we knew when we had to re-order. In the end, if Brian put in a large order for a particular record, the other retailers would order them too. Brian was that impressive, and his opinion was often sought.”

What about Raymond Jones, Alistair?

“I was Raymond Jones. Kids were coming into the shop and asking for this record 'My Bonnie' by The Beatles. We didn't have it and, until somebody put in an actual order, Brian wouldn't do anything. You see, Brian had this claim that if you ordered a record by anyone, anywhere, he would find it. However, no matter how many people asked for it, nobody had ordered it by paying a deposit. Particularly as this was a German import, this was even more important.

I knew we would sell lots of copies, so I made out the order form and paid the deposit from my own pocket in the name of Raymond Jones, one of our regular customers.

Now we had an order, Brian and I set about tracking it down. Of course, it was recorded in Germany, and was recorded under the name of Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers. Brian ordered the first batch and they sold out in no time at all.

So, a few years ago, I announced that I was Raymond Jones. And that is it, it was me.”

This is just an excerpt from the book. You can read the full interview in the book.


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