The man who made music history

I generally would not use a word like “cool” to describe a legal document, but hey, look at this cool document!

The Beatles’ original management contract with Brian Epstein. “hereunto”!

“Why had I not signed it? I believe it was because even though I knew I would keep the contract in every clause, I had not 100 percent faith in myself to help the Beatles adequately. In other words, I wanted to free the Beatles of their obligations if I felt they would be better off.”
-Brian Epstein, A Cellarful of Noise, 1964

Oh Brian, I think it’s safe to say that you helped the Beatles more than adequately. And you sure did the rest of us a solid by making sure their music was heard.

This is long overdue, but in my next installment of Important Beatles People, I present to you: Mr. Brian Epstein.

Firstly, let’s acknowledge the fact that Brian was absolutely responsible for the Beatles’ rise to fame. He took a huge chance on them, having never managed a group before and after being told by friends and colleagues that the Beatles were “absolutely awful” (Alistair Taylor’s words, not mine). Regardless, he was enchanted by them and was determined to get them a record deal. Every single major label said no, but Brian kept going until he finally got a deal with lil’ old Parlophone (thanks to George Martin, also a huge part of the Beatles #dreamteam). Then, he steadily booked shows, tours, and TV appearances so that the band got more and more exposure. He stood by their side from the dingy Cavern Club all the way to Shea Stadium and beyond. He was the Beatles’ biggest fan. <3

Brian introducing the Beatles at the Majestic Ballroom, 1962….
….3 years later, at Shea Stadium

The Beatles adored him. Yes, they poked fun at him (like they did at each other, and pretty much everyone), but they had complete faith and trust in Brian, in both business and personal matters. He was best man for both Ringo & Maureen and John & Cynthia (who also asked him to be Julian’s godfather, awww). Looking at photos and video footage, the Beatles + Brian were pretty inseparable those first few years.

Brian with Ringo and Mo on their wedding day. So happy!

And most importantly: when things got rough, he was always right there in the thick of it with them. He literally took punches for them on the Philippines tour, and had the fun job of answering to the press after John’s infamous Jesus quote. Brian managed several other successful artists once the Beatles hit it big, but it’s obvious that they were his pride and joy. When the Beatles stopped touring and went on to focus on studio work, he more or less stayed out of their way in the studio, but did arrange the famous global broadcast of “All You Need is Love” and held a smashing album release party for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. His story ends sadly and abruptly after that, with an overdose at age 32.

I have a lot of feelings about Brian Epstein. I think he and the Beatles were an unlikely but perfect match, a balance between his natural business smarts and their raw Liverpudlian energy. I think it is wretchedly unfair that he had to live in a certain amount of fear, being gay during a time when it was illegal in England (homosexuality in the country was decriminalized literally one month after his death). I think he was courageous for fighting so hard for the Beatles, and for devoting his entire career to their success. And I think he was a humble, dignified, and beautiful soul.

To finish, three lovely Brian pics (btw, the man was incapable of taking a bad picture. You know how there are so many awkward, dorky pictures of the Beatles? Not so with Brian. Even when he’s totally in the background of a photo, he looks positively dashing):

16th January 1964:  Band manager Brian Epstein (1935 - 1967) relaxing in Paris with Beatles members John Lennon (1940 - 1980) and Ringo Starr.  (Photo by Harry Benson/Express/Getty Images)
The most important manager in music history.

PS – This post inspired by The Fifth Beatle, a beautiful graphic novel about Brian Epstein which made me all weepy. Go read it.

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