Flashback: Say the Words; He Was the Liverpudlian Who Coined the Phrase Fab Four - Peter Grant Meets Tony Barrow Who Will Be in Liverpool This Weekend to Talk about His Fab New Book John, Paul, George, Ringo and Me
Byline: Peter Grant
TONY Barrow says his new Beatle book is neither a biography nor a homage. It's more personal than that.
Tony worked with The Beatles as their press officer from 1962-1968. Educated at Merchant Taylor's school in Crosby, he grew up in the Liverpool of the 50s.
His first freelance job was writing a pop column for the ECHO called Off the Record. Now ON the record in 2005, he says the book is a labour of love He says: "It's a close-up and highly personal study of what John, Paul, George, Ringo and their manager Brian Epstein were really like, not only in the public spotlight but also in the private 'off-duty' moments that outsiders never witnessed - but I did.
"It's my collection of very honest eye-witness memories of what each of the four Beatles were like and how their personalities, attitudes and lifestyles changed over the six years I worked withthem during the 60s as their PR man." Tony watched them find fame, enjoy the fortunes of success and endure the stresses and pressures of Beatlemania.
"I was with them when we went to meet Elvis Presley at a very private party in his Bel Air mansion in 1965. I saw Presley perform in Las Vegas."
And Tony is indeed the visionary who created a phrase everyone has used at some point when talking about the band.
"In 1963, I was searching for a sexy nickname to use in a press release so that I could avoid repeating the group's name yet again. In the sleeve notes I'd just written for the cover of With The Beatles I'd used the phrase 'fabulous foursome'.
"On reflection, this sounded a bit pompous so for the press release I shortened it to The Fab Four, inadvertently introducing an infectious little phrase that would be used around the planet for the next 40-plus years."
Tony loved his demanding job from the outset.
"The ultimate buzz of being The Beatles' press officer was to share just a tiny morsel of their fame. The job satisfaction lay in knowing that you were contributing in your own way to musical history in the making.
"If I'm pressed to recall a single event that epitomised the wondrous side of working with the group it has to be their concert at New York's Shea Stadium in August 1965. That was the greatest and most memorable experience of my six-year stint with the band."
He says that the city of Liverpool played an important part in their success, when he would 'go into town' to hear the new sounds.
He recalls: "In those days the music business centred much more on the capital.
"Few record company scouts bothered to scour the provinces for fresh talent and there was plenty of it in London to keep the in-house record producers satisfied. Having said that, I think most major cities around the UK had a good number of home-grown semi-pro groups - the best of which did graduate from local popularity to record-making and national success. …