Saturday, January 22, 2011

Brian Epstein

Former Beatles' manager Brian Epstein was born on September 19, 1934 in Liverpool, England. After a brief stint in the Royal Army, Epstein was made director of NEMS (North End Music Stores) an Epstein family business. After confessing that he was homosexual, he was sent to London to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, but Epstein soon dropped out.

Back in Liverpool, Epstein was put in charge of the record department of the latest NEMS store on Great Charlotte Street. It is here that he met Peter Brown, who would later become good friends with the Beatles. The Beatles themselves frequented NEMS stores and knew who Brian Epstein was. Likewise, Epstein was familiar with the group, which was featured in editions of Mersey Beat magazine, and he had also heard the band's recording of "My Bonnie," made with Tony Sheridan. When the Beatles debuted at the Cavern on November 9, 1961, Epstein attended the rowdy club and was struck by the Beatles high energy, humor, and onstage presence.

After attending the Cavern several more times, Epstein told the Beatles that someone needed to manage their affairs, although no contract was yet extended. He also encouraged them to audition for Decca Records, which the group did on December 13, 1964 in London. Although Decca refused to sign the Beatles, Epstein offered them a contract on January 24, 1962, although he himself did not sign the document in order to leave himself an out. After the release of "Love Me Do" in 1962, Epstein offered the group a legally binding contract. By that time, Epstein had secured a contract with Parlophone producer George Martin, who would begin to help shape the Beatles' musical evolution in the studio.

As far as the Beatles' onstage presence, Epstein wanted the group to adopt a more refined demeanor and urged them to abandon their leather jackets and jeans in favor of suits. He also wanted them to cease cursing, drinking, and smoking onstage. The Beatles, especially Lennon, did not want to conform to these suggestions, but after McCartney agreed, the rest followed, with Lennon saying that he would do almost anything if someone would start paying him well. At the time, Epstein also handled many other British groups and performers, such as Cilla Black and Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Epstein wanted the Beatles to continue touring after their final concert in 1966 at Candlestick Park, but the Beatles refused to do so, citing that they were exhausted and could no longer be heard or improve their music. It is said that Epstein grew more depressed after the Beatles entered their studio years since they did not need his hands-on management necessary for tours. He had previously become immersed in drugs, fine wines, and gambling during the height of Beatlemania, having taken the same uppers the Beatles had used in Hamburg in order to get through their grueling tours and late nights. He also admitted to using cannabis and LSD.

Rumors of a homosexual relationship with John Lennon have circulated for years, but both Lennon and his wife Cynthia always denied that any kind of sexual relationship existed between the two men.

Epstein died of an alleged accidental overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills on August 27, 1967 while the Beatles were in India with the Maharishi. Subsequently, the Beatles admitted that they lacked direction without Epstein "telling us what to do," and their search for a new manager and their attempt to launch and maintain Apple Corps, Ltd. contributed to tension within the group and ultimately the band's break-up. Lennon said that Epstein's death marked the beginning of the end.

For more information on Brian Epstein, consult BEATLES CONNECTIONS in the SITEMAP below.

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