London — Tony Barrow, the British publicist who coined the phrase “Fab Four” to describe the early Beatles, has died.

Barrow, 80, died in a Lancaster hospital on Saturday following a lengthy illness, his son Mike Barrow said Tuesday.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney said Barrow “was a lovely guy who helped us in the early years of the Beatles.” He called Barrow “super professional but always ready for a laugh.”

Mike Barrow said his father coined the phrase at a time when the word “fab” was in common usage. He says “he just put the two together … it was a masterstroke.”

Like the Beatles, Barrow was a Liverpool native and before working with the group he wrote a music column for the Liverpool Echo newspaper. He was recruited for a job as the Beatles’ press officer by manager Brian Epstein in 1962, the year they signed a record deal with Parlophone. Barrow wrote the press release for their debut single, “Love Me Do,” and assembled a five-page kit titled “Introducing THE BEATLES” that featured a photograph on a pink card.

In Mark Lewisohn’s Beatles biography “Tune In,” Barrow remembered all four band members making distinct first impressions: McCartney was sociable, George Harrison inquisitive, Ringo Starr shy and John Lennon abrasive.

“All the traits that came out at that initial meeting were consistent with what followed,” Barrow said.

He is survived by his widow Corinne and sons Mike and Mark.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read or Share this story: