Tony Barrow 1936-2016

Michael Gerber
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The Beatles and Tony Barrow, 1963

The Beatles and Tony Barrow, 1963

Former Beatles press agent Tony Barrow has died at age 80.

A member of the group’s original Liverpool gang, Barrow was part of the Beatles’ story from 1961-1968. Record reviewer for the Liverpool Echo from the age of 17, Barrow was working for Decca when Brian Epstein called for some advice regarding a pop group he’d just agreed to manage. Using his connections, Barrow was able to finagle the Beatles an audition. Not forgetting the favor, Brian Epstein later hired him away from Decca to handle press for all the NEMS groups.

As every obit is obligated to mention, Barrow coined “the Fab Four,” which must have been a great relief for a man who typed “The Beatles” almost as much as I have. More importantly around these parts, he came up with the idea for the Beatles Christmas records, which are a Gerber household tradition. You start opening presents in the excitement of 1963; when you get to 1969 and they’re all phoning it in, it’s time to take the wrapping paper down to recycling and have brunch.

Barrow and the group went their separate ways after Epstein’s death and the emergence of Apple; I suspect Apple’s heavy hippy scene was not for him. He went on to have a successful career in the buoyant and lucrative rock business the Beatles helped to create. Interestingly Barrow left it in 1980, in part because he didn’t like punk rock.

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  1. Avatar Sir Huddleston Fuddleston wrote:

    I’m afraid it can’t be much longer.. A better, or at least more honest, generation, almost gone now.

  2. Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

    Another reminder of how fortunate the Beatles were in being surrounded by honest business-related folks who took good care of them, pre-Klein.

  3. Karen Hooper Karen Hooper wrote:

    RIP Tony. He wrote his memoirs, which are now on my to-read list.

    • Avatar Ruth wrote:

      Honestly Karen, his memoir — “John, Paul, George, Ringo and Me” is pretty “blah.” There are a few new moments, but he couldn’t break out of “P.R. mode.” Except for a new story or two, it’s very much a surface portrayal. The writing itself isn’t nearly as engaging as Bramwell’s — who, for all his misremembering, definitely has a distinctive “voice” to his recollections. It also has to deal a lot with doing, well, P.R. in general — which makes sense, given that it was his job, but if that doesn’t interest you too much, it can drag in parts. I wouldn’t pay too much for it: If you can get it from a library or at a used book store, I’d suggest it.

      • Karen Hooper Karen Hooper wrote:

        Way to put a pin in my balloon Ruth 🙂

        Seriously, though, I sometimes enjoy reading those types of books because I find it kind of fun to see if I can mine a gem or two amidst the flabby story-telling.

  4. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    I took a peek at the table of contents of his memoir. So the fab four were almost called the awesome foursome? And his nickname for Brian was the Nemperor? The chapter descriptions are entertaining. If I see the book in my library, I’ll check it out.

    In other news, a new “Absolutely Fabulous” movie opens on July 1. Cameo by Stella McCartney (who plays herself). I think she throws a brick through their window…

  5. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    Just when I think I’ve seen and heard everything Beatle related, I see and hear this:
    The film reminds me of an early prototype of the Sgt. Peppers album cover, or the Free As A Bird video.

    Any Beatle appearance that begins with them bursting through a wall is okay with me.

  6. Michael, LOVE your sweet Christmas tradition, from beginning (1963) to ‘wrapping paper to the recycle bin’ end (1969). Touché-Away!

  7. Avatar Diddy David wrote:

    Isn’t that Brian Matthew not Tony ?

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