Tony Barrow, Beatles Publicist Who Coined the Term "Fab Four," Dies at 80

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The Beatles

Barrow served as press officer for the legendary band during their heyday, from 1962-68, and worked with a string of Hall of Fame acts throughout his career.

Tony Barrow, the longtime Beatles press officer who coined the term “Fab Four,” died Saturday 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 1962-68, and worked with a string of Hall of Fame acts through his career. 

Paul McCartney has paid tribute to Barrow, whom 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."

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. He worked not just on the Beatles, but across Epstein’s stable of homegrown acts like Cilla Black and Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Barrow left the Beatles in 1968 (a year after Epstein's death) to establish his own PR firm, where he worked with the likes of the Kinks, the Jackson Five and the Monkees.

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.

May 15, 9:16 p.m.: Updated with Paul McCartney's tweets.

This story first appeared on Billboard.

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