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General information  

  • Real name : Brian Samuel Epstein
  • Place of birth : Liverpool
  • Date of birth : 19/09/1934
  • Place of death : London
  • Date of death : 27/08/1967


  • Epstein Brian


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Brian Epstein (1934)

Brian Samuel Epstein

Type :  


Brian Samuel Epstein (; 19 September 1934– 27 August 1967), was an English music entrepreneur, and is best known for being the manager of The Beatles up until his death. He also managed several other musical artists such as Gerry & the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Cilla Black, The Remo Four & The Cyrkle. His management company was named NEMS Enterprises after his family's music stores, also called NEMS .

Epstein paid for The Beatles to record a demo in Decca's studios, which Epstein later persuaded George Martin to listen to, as Decca were not interested in signing the band. Epstein was then offered a contract by Martin on behalf of EMI's small Parlophone label, even though they had previously been rejected by almost every other British record company. Martin later explained that Epstein's enthusiasm and his confidence that The Beatles would one day become internationally famous convinced him to sign them.

Epstein died of an accidental drug overdose at his home in London in August 1967. The Beatles' early success has been attributed to Epstein's management and sense of style. McCartney said of Epstein: "If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian".


 personal life
Throughout Epstein's life he was known to be kind and caring to his family, friends of his family, and business colleagues. When Lennon married Cynthia Powell, on 23 August 1962, Epstein attended the wedding as the best man and paid for their celebration lunch afterwards. During Cynthia's pregnancy, Epstein paid for a private room in a hospital and offered the Lennons the sole use of his flat on Falkner Street when they needed somewhere to live. He also agreed to be the godfather to Lennon's son Julian.

 Sexual orientation

Epstein's homosexuality was not publicly known for some years after his death, although it had been an open secret among his friends and business associates. While Epstein was in the Army, he had a tailor make an officer's uniform for him that he wore when cruising the bars of London, but was arrested one night at the Army and Navy Club in Piccadilly by the Military Police. Epstein managed to avoid a court martial by agreeing to see an army psychiatrist, who uncovered Epstein's sexuality. He was discharged from the army after 10 months on the medical grounds of being "emotionally and mentally unfit", although Epstein later stated that his first homosexual experience was after he returned to Liverpool.

Epstein spent a year studying acting at RADA, but dropped out shortly after his arrest for "persistent importuning" outside a men's public toilet in Swiss Cottage, London. When Epstein first saw The Beatles perform he noticed their stage attire first, saying: "They were rather scruffily dressed, in the nicest possible way, or I should say in the most attractive way: black leather jackets, jeans, long hair of course." McCartney said that when Epstein started to manage The Beatles, they knew that Epstein was homosexual, but did not care, because Epstein encouraged them professionally and offered them access to previously off-limits social circles.

Although Lennon often made sarcastic comments about Epstein's homosexuality to friends and to Epstein personally, nobody outside their closed circle was allowed to comment on it. Ian Sharp, one of Lennon's art school friends, once made a sarcastic remark about Epstein, saying, "Which one of you does he fancy?" Sharp was sent a letter by Epstein's office within 48 hours that demanded a complete apology. Sharp apologised but was then completely ostracised, and was told by McCartney in a letter to have no contact at all with any of them in the future. Epstein used to go on holiday to places such as Amsterdam and Barcelona, or Manchester at weekends, as the attitude to homosexuals was not as unforgiving as in Liverpool, although there were several gay bars in Liverpool.

In his biography, Best claims that Epstein drove them both to Blackpool one evening, and Epstein declared to Best his "very fond admiration" for him. Epstein is then supposed to have said, "Would you find it embarrassing if I ask you to stay in a hotel overnight?" Best replied that he was not interested, and the two never mentioned it again. There were rumours of a brief sexual encounter between Lennon and Epstein when they both went on a four-day holiday together to Barcelona in April 1963. Lennon always denied the claims, telling Playboy in 1980: "It was never consummated, but we had a pretty intense relationship". Lennon's first wife Cynthia also maintains that Lennon's relationship with Epstein was platonic. A fictionalised account of the Spanish holiday was portrayed in the 1991 film The Hours and Times.

In October 1964, Epstein's autobiography, A Cellarful of Noise, was published in the UK and later in the US. It was ghost-written by journalist Derek Taylor, who had served as Epstein's assistant that year, then later as the publicist for NEMS from 1968–1970. Male homosexual activity was illegal in England and Wales until September 1967 (one month after Epstein's death) when it was decriminalised.

 Drug use

After the start of his management career, Epstein started taking stimulants—usually Preludin, which was legal at the time—which Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr also took, and had previously taken in Hamburg. He explained his use of the drug as the only way of staying awake at night during numerous concert tours. In 1964, Brown started to notice that Epstein was taking too many pills, because Epstein often had a cough at parties, which Brown knew was Epstein's way of secretly putting pills into his mouth without anyone noticing. McCartney often met Epstein at late-night clubs in London, and remembered that Epstein would often grind his jaws, once saying, "Ugghhh, the pills" to McCartney.

In 1964, after having been introduced to cannabis by Bob Dylan in New York, McCartney remembered Epstein standing in front of a mirror, pointing at himself and repeatedly saying "Jew!", and laughing loudly, which McCartney found hilarious and "very liberating". Epstein later became heavily involved in the 1960s drug scene, and during the four months when the Sgt. Pepper album was being recorded, Epstein spent his time on holiday, or at the Priory Clinic in Putney, where he tried unsuccessfully to curb his drug use. He left the Priory for the party to launch Sgt. Pepper to selected journalists at his house at 24 Chapel Street, but went straight back to the Priory afterwards.

Epstein added his name to an advertisement that appeared in The Times on 24 July 1967, which asked for the legalisation of cannabis, the release of all prisoners imprisoned because of possession, and research into marijuana's medical uses. The advertisement was sponsored by a group called Soma and was signed by 65 people, including The Beatles, Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing, 16 doctors, and two members of parliament. Epstein responded to questions about the advertisement by saying, "My opinion is that pot smoking is definitely less harmful than drinking alcohol ... I am not addicted to either, but I have been very drunk and very 'high'." After McCartney's admission on 19 June 1967, of his use of LSD, Epstein defended McCartney to the media, admitting that he had also taken it himself.


On 27 August 1965, The Beatles and Epstein visited Elvis Presley at his house Perugia Way in Los Angeles, California, where Colonel Tom Parker and Joe Esposito set up a roulette wheel and several packs of playing cards. Epstein immediately wanted to play, as he was known for his love of gambling for high stakes. McCartney frequently visited gambling clubs in London, such as Curzon House, Epstein's favourite club, and often saw Epstein gambling there. He once saw Epstein put a Dunhill lighter on the table that was worth £100 (worth approximately £1,300, or $2,500 as of 2009) and then lose it during a game of cards. Epstein would often lose thousands of pounds by playing baccarat or chemin de fer, but would stay at Curzon House the whole evening, eating an expensive meal and drinking fine wines. The club never presented Epstein with a bill, as they knew that he lost so much in their casino.

A few weeks before his own death, Epstein attended a traditional shiva in Liverpool after his father died, having just come out of the Priory clinic where he had been trying to cure his acute insomnia and his addiction to amphetamines. Epstein made his last visit to a Beatles' recording session on 23 August 1967, at the Chappell Recording Studios on Maddox Street, London.

On 24 August, Epstein asked Brown and Geoffrey Ellis down to Kingsley Hill which was Epstein's country home in Warbleton, East Sussex, for the Bank Holiday weekend. After they got there, Epstein decided to drive back to London by himself because an expected group of rent boys he had invited failed to arrive, although they did turn up after Epstein left. Epstein phoned Brown the next day at 5 o'clock in the afternoon from his Chapel Street house in London. Brown thought that Epstein sounded "very groggy", and suggested that Epstein take a train back down to the nearest train station, in Uckfield, instead of driving under the influence of Tuinals. Epstein replied that he would eat something, read his mail and watch Juke Box Jury before phoning Brown to tell him which train to meet. He never called again.

Epstein died of an overdose of Carbitral, a form of barbiturate, or sleeping pill, in his locked bedroom, on 27 August 1967. He was discovered after his butler had knocked on the door, and hearing no response, he asked the housekeeper to call the police. Epstein was found on a single bed, dressed in pajamas, with various correspondence spread over a second single bed close by. At the statutory inquest, his death was officially ruled as accidental, and was probably caused by a gradual buildup of Carbitral in his system, mixed with alcohol. It was revealed that he had taken six Carbitral pills in order to sleep, which was probably usual, but meant that his tolerance was very close to becoming lethal.

The Beatles were in Bangor at the time with the Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Epstein had previously agreed to travel to Bangor after the August Bank Holiday. The stunned Beatles asked the Maharishi for his advice, but he firmly told them that Epstein's death, "being within the direct realm of the physical world, is not important". A concert by Jimi Hendrix at Epstein's Saville Theatre was cancelled out of respect on the evening that he died.

Brown wrote in his memoir, The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of The Beatles, that he had once found a suicide note written by Epstein and spoke with him directly about it. According to Brown, the note read in part, "This is all too much and I can't take it anymore". Brown had also found a will, in which Epstein left his house and money to his mother and his brother . When confronted with the notes, Epstein told Brown that he was grateful Brown had not told anyone, and said that he was sorry he had made Brown worry. He explained that he had simply taken one pill too many and that he had not intended to overdose; promising to be more careful from then on. Brown later wrote that he wondered if he was really doing Epstein a favour by not showing the note to Epstein's doctor, Norman Cowan, who would have stopped prescribing drugs. The coroner, Gavin Thurston, told the Westminster inquest that Epstein's death was caused by an overdose of Carbitral, ruling it an accidental death. The pathologist, Dr. Donald Teare, stated that Epstein had been taking bromide in the form of Carbitral for some time, and that the barbiturate level in Epstein's blood was a "low fatal level".

The Beatles did not attend Epstein's funeral, wishing to give his family privacy by not attracting the media and fans. Epstein was buried in section A grave H12, in the Long Lane Jewish Cemetery, Aintree, Liverpool. The service at the graveside was held by Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon, who said, disparagingly, that Epstein was, "a symbol of the malaise of our generation". A few weeks later, on 17 October, all four Beatles attended a memorial service for Epstein at the New London Synagogue in St John's Wood , which was officiated by Rabbi Louis Jacobs.


Epstein was overlooked when Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr were honoured with the MBE in 1965—Harrison once said that the MBE stood for "Mister Brian Epstein". The Beatles were among the earliest entrants into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but Epstein is not in the Hall's "Non-Performer's Section". Martin Lewis—previously Taylor's assistant—created The Official Brian Epstein Website, which includes a petition that Epstein be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lewis also organised the 1998 re-publication of Epstein's 1964 autobiography, A Cellarful of Noise.

McCartney summarised the importance of Epstein when he was interviewed, in 1997, for a BBC documentary about Epstein by stating: "If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian". In his 1970 Rolling Stone interview, Lennon commented that Epstein's death marked the beginning of the end for the group: "I knew that we were in trouble then ... I thought, 'We've fuckin' had it now'". Thirty years after Epstein's death, McCartney said, "Brian would really be happy to hear how much we loved him". The first contract between The Beatles and Epstein was auctioned in London in 2008, and was sold for £240,000.

Epstein was asked about the future of The Beatles and, as he termed it, their "fresh, honesty", which the interviewer thought could be "corrupted by time". He replied by saying, "I think they will go in the reverse direction, and become more honest."

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Brian Epstein", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.