Robert Taylor (1941-2006)

Sound recordist Robert ‘Bob’ Taylor, who died in October 2006 aged 65, began his film career at the Century 21 Studios where he developed a talent for finding and recording sound effects for Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons and Joe 90. This role led him to a long career as a film sound engineer working at Pinewood Studios in the Seventies and, later, becoming an award-winning Bollywood sound recordist.

In the mid-Sixties, Taylor was working in a television installation and repair shop in Marlow when a chance meeting with Gerry Anderson led to work at the Century 21 Studios, at first working on electronic engineering in the puppet workshop, such as installing the motors which made the puppets’ eyes move. Provided with a tape recorder and a microphone he was sent out into the Slough trading estate to record sound effects and it was here that he recorded a laundry chute motor which became the sound of Thunderbird 2’s launch ramp. He went on to record sound effects for Captain Scarlet and Joe 90 before joining Rank’s sound recording laboratory in Brent and then the sound department at Pinewood Studios. There, he worked as a boom operator and sound mixer on many of the studio’s productions during the 1970s, including Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy (1972) and Bryan Forbes’s The Slipper And The Rose (1976).

Going freelance, Taylor established Melton Sound at Halliford Studios in Shepperton and made a name for himself within the industry as second camera sound mixer on Roland Joffe’s The Killing Fields (1984). He followed this with work on Michael Winner’s A Chorus Of Disapproval (1988) and Nicholas Meyer’s The Deceivers (1988), but found his niche in Bollywood after he landed the role of sound recordist on Pradip Krishen’s Electric Moon (1992). This led to work on Shekhar Kapur’s award-winning historical drama Bandit Queen (1994). In 2003, Taylor won the Zee Cine Best Sound Award for the musical Saathya (2002), and in 2005 he picked up the Screen Weekly Best Sound Award for Mani Ratnam’s Yuva (2004). He also worked on Ayitha Ezhuthu (2004), American Daylight (2004), Mangal Pandey (2005) and Maqbool(2003), a Hindi adaptation of Macbeth.

Bob Taylor retired in December 2005 but was diagnosed with cancer shortly after. He died on 21st October 2006.

Originally published in FAB 56.