He found a hoard of Duran Duran memorabilia, which his parents had faithfully kept.
Little by little, Taylor began to write about fragments from his life. Gradually, the volume of documents grew and started to form his life story.
Taylor, whose autobiography In The Pleasure Groove was published this month and has become an instant bestseller, takes up the story.
"It began out of sadness. I lost my dad and I moved everything out of the family house in Hollywood, south Birmingham. I couldn't believe how suddenly my connections were being severed; both with my mother and my father and with the place, the suburb, where I'd grown up.
"I've lived in Los Angeles and Wiltshire for a while. But I used to enjoy those trips back to the family home, I'd use them as an excuse to drive around those inner city neighbourhoods that I grew up in."
Taylor's book is a love letter to Birmingham. It recalls his passion for the city and also reveals how his ambition to become a pop star was formulated at the age of five.
"I remember seeing The Beatles when I was really young. I wanted brothers and I wanted to travel the world with those brothers.
"I was just the lucky one who met Nick, then Simon and Roger and Andy, and we had the power. But having gotten all that, I realised how precarious it all was.
"As a human being, around 1985, around the time of Live Aid, I realised just how fragile it was."
Taylor enjoyed writing his life story, finding the process cathartic. He worked on it for three months last summer, when the band took an unexpected break from their All You Need Is Now world tour, after singer Simon Le Bon had lost his voice.
"I don't think of myself as a perfectionist," he adds. "As I read through it now I think some stuff could have been better. It was about capturing lightning in a way, we wanted to get it.
"I am a pretty kind of energetic kind of guy, that's how I am. So we didn't want the book to be laboured. We wanted to keep it moving. I felt driven to do it."
There are fascinating tales in In The Pleasure Groove, including one about The Police lead singer Sting.
"I talk a lot about being a fan and really getting into music. It was a passion. I remember going to see one gig, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers. The opening band was a trio I'd never heard of.
I remember the singer mouthing off about one of the bands on the bill. He was a very confident guy and a superhot bass player.
He was mixing with the students, getting them to buy him pints. And he told the audience that one of the bands couldn't play and I just swore at him. I told him where to go.
"Years later, I saw him on Top Of The Pops, when we were recording Ordinary World.
"I was about to tell him that story when he came over and heard the track. He just said: 'That's amazing, I wish I'd done that'. I laughed."
The book recalls tales of debauchery – at one point, while on tour in the USA, Duran Duran's tour manager gave each member of the band a list of ages of consent for each of the states that they played in, to ensure they didn't get in trouble with the law.
"There's a lot about my upbringing in Birmingham. In many ways, the book is a love letter to Birmingham," he said.
"The city doesn't shout about itself in the way that Manchester, Liverpool or London do. But it's an incredible city when it comes to music, fashion, art and culture."
In The Pleasure Groove by John Taylor is available now.