Tony Barrow, Beatles Publicist Who Coined the Term 'Fab Four,' Dies at 80
Tony Barrow, the longtime Beatles press officer who coined the term “Fab Four,” died Saturday (May 14) at his home in Morecambe, England. He had turned 80 just three days prior.
Barrow served as press officer for the legendary band during their heyday, from 1962-1968, and worked with a string of Hall of Fame acts through his career.
Paul McCartney has paid tribute to Barrow, who he described as "a lovely guy who helped us in the early years of The Beatles. He was super professional, but always ready for a laugh. He will be missed but remembered by many of us."
Tony Barrow was a lovely guy who helped us in the early years of The Beatles. He was super professional but always ready for a laugh. (1/2)— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) May 15, 2016
He will be missed but remembered by many of us. (2/2)— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) May 15, 2016
Born in the Liverpool suburb of Crosby in 1936, Barrow joined the team at Decca Records as a teenager, writing liner notes for the label and contributing record reviews to the Liverpool Echo. In the early '60s, Beatles manager Brian Epstein approached Barrow to help lift the profile of the then-unsigned band. And with Barrow’s help, the band scored an audition for the label, which famously failed to yield a recording contract. Epstein recognized Barrow’s talents and he poached the young writer, reportedly with the offer of twice the salary he was earning with Decca.
Barrow would write features for the Beatles Monthly, often using a pseudonym or attributed to members of the band, and he penned the liner notes for the first three Beatles albums. He also drew the cartoon featured in the sleeve notes for Magical Mystery Tour and was the first to use the term "Fab Four," which he dropped in a press release. He worked not just on the Beatles, but across Epstein’s stable of homegrown acts like Cilla Black and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
He published a handful of books on his time with the iconic act, including Meet the Beatles and the memoir, John, Paul, George, Ringo & Me - The Real Beatles Story.
The cause of Barrow’s death is unknown at this time. He is survived by his wife, Corrine, and their two sons.