TELEVISION and film director Gavin Taylor, who worked with some of the greatest stars in music, has died at the age of 72.
Among those he immortalised on film were Michael Jackson, U2, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Bryan Adams and Quincy Jones.
He worked for Tyne Tees TV for more than 35 years and also directed The Tube, the landmark music programme made by Tyne Tees for the new Channel 4.
Mr Taylor, who lived in Darras Hall, Ponteland, had been suffering from cancer. Music historian Chris Phipps, who worked with him as a producer on The Tube, visited him a fortnight ago at St Oswald’s Hospice in Gosforth. He remembered Mr Taylor as “one of the few directors who could capture both the intimacy and the theatrical power of the world’s greatest performers live on stage”.
He said: “The biggest thing we did together was Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms which we shot live in Israel, on the walls of Jerusalem, in 1985.
“But if people were to choose one thing that he did, it would probably be filming U2 at Red Rocks in Denver, Colorado.
“The thing with Gavin was, he was extremely modest. He seemed more like an urbane kind of estate agent or country doctor than someone who filmed rock stars. We did a thing together at Sage Gateshead last year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of The Tube.”
In 2009, after Michael Jackson’s death, Mr Taylor invited The Journal into his home to watch a film he had made of the singer in his pomp.
In his upstairs viewing room – effectively a little private cinema – he played the film he made of Jackson performing in a private concert for the Brunei royal family. He said family member Prince Jefri used to stage concerts by major stars to mark the birthdays of his three children.
He said: “They were all videoed and put on disc for private distribution so they never saw any of the TV networks.
“I used to go out three times a year and it was amazing. I directed concerts by Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, Sting, Bryan Adams, Elton John and, of course, Michael Jackson.”
Of Jackson he recalled: “He was a very, very polite, gentle, sensitive person but with enormous talent.”
The Jackson film was made shortly after Gavin Taylor ended his 35-year association with Tyne Tees, during which he established himself as a master in his field.
In 2009 he recalled that the U2 job had been an early test.
“You’re only as good as your last show so you have to keep the standard extremely high,” he said.
The film at Red Rocks was to accompany U2’s 1983 live album Under A Blood Red Sky.
Mr Phipps said it was this Tube commission that had put Mr Taylor in the music history books.
“The no-frills power performance on a rain-soaked night in June was rated by Rolling Stone magazine as one of their Top 100 Moments That Changed Rock ‘n’ Roll History.”
He said Gavin Taylor had graduated from the National Coal Board film unit to train as an assistant cameraman for Tyne Tees, the new commercial TV station for the North East.
“He established a reputation for directing high-quality pop offerings like Alright Now for the ITV network and Saturday Shakeup for the regions,” he recalled.
He said that on The Tube, whose live Friday night gigs he directed from 1982 to 1987 (beginning with The Jam and ending with Duran Duran), Gavin Taylor’s composure amid apparent chaos was an asset.
He was also in demand away from rock, directing the Royal Variety Performance and gigs at Glastonbury and the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Mr Taylor is survived by his wife, Margaret, and two daughters.