Beatles' `beautiful' PR man dies aged 65

Derek Taylor, who was press officer to The Beatles at the height of their fame, has died at the age of 65, it was announced last night.

A spokesman for Apple Records said he died at his home in Suffolk after a long illness.

Sir Paul McCartney said last night that he was a beautiful man.

"It's time for tears and words may come later," he said.

Taylor, pictured, who was originally from Liverpool, was the the northern showbusiness correspondent for the Daily Express and covered his first Beatles concert in May 1963.

"Magnificent ... the spectacle of these fresh, cheeky, sharp, young entertainers in apposition to the shiny-eyed teenage idolators is as good as a rejuvenating drug for the jaded adult," he wrote afterwards.

He began to take a close interest in the group and became their press officer the following year. He ghost-wrote George Harrison's newspaper column and also Brian Epstein's autobiography A Cellarful of Noise. He travelled with the Beatles on their world tour before moving to the United States to be publicist for the Byrds, The Beach Boys and The Grateful Dead.

But in 1968 he returned to England to resume working with the Beatles.

Philip Norman, the Beatles' biographer, said: "It was Derek Taylor's unique accomplishment to be a press officer whom journalists pursued.

"They pursued him because Derek Taylor was not a monster.