He started his career as a local journalist in Liverpool aged 17 working for the Hoylake and West Kirby Advertiser followed by the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo before becoming a North England-based writer for national British newspapers that included the News Chronicle, the Sunday Dispatch and the Sunday Express. He also served as a regular columnist and theatre critic for the Daily Express from 1952. The term “pocket symphony” is generally attributed to Taylor for his description of the Beach Boys’ 1966 single “Good Vibrations“.
A trusted confidant of the Beatles, Taylor remained particularly close to George Harrison long after the band’s break-up and maintained a friendship with Lennon until the latter’s death in 1980. In addition to working as editor on Harrison’s 1980 autobiography, I, Me, Mine, Taylor authored books such as As Time Goes By, The Making of Raiders of The Lost Ark, Fifty Years Adrift (In An Open Necked Shirt) and It Was Twenty Years Ago Today.
Taylor was a national journalist working for the Daily Express when he was assigned to write a review of a Beatles concert on 30 May 1963. He had been expected by his editors to write a piece critical of what at that time was considered by the national press as an inconsequential teen fad. However, he was enchanted by the group and instead sang their praises. Shortly afterwards, he was invited to meet the Beatles and soon became a trusted journalist in their circle.
As the band gained national attention in Britain, Taylor’s editors conceived of running a column ostensibly written by a Beatle to boost circulation, to be ghostwritten by Taylor. George Harrison was the Beatle eventually decided upon. Although Taylor was initially only given the right to approve or disapprove of the content, Harrison’s dissection of the first draft turned the column into an ongoing collaboration between the two, with Harrison providing the stories and Taylor providing the polish.
In early 1964, Beatles manager Brian Epstein hired Taylor away from his newspaper job, putting him in charge of Beatles press releases, and acting as media liaison for himself and the group. He subsequently became Epstein’s personal assistant for a short period. Taylor assisted Epstein in the writing of his autobiography, A Cellarful of Noise. Taylor conducted interviews with Epstein for the book and then shaped the transcriptions of the audio recordings into a narrative, retaining most of Epstein’s basic words.
Taylor served as press officer for the Beatles’ first concert tour of the US in the summer of 1964. After a falling out with Epstein, he resigned from his position at the end of the tour, in September. Brian Epstein demanded that Taylor continue working for a three-month notice period, however. After this, he went to work for the Daily Mirror.