Brian Epstein died 50 years ago, on 27 August 1967, leaving a massive void in the lives of the four Beatles and those who worked closely with them. Brian wasn’t just a manager; he was a friend and a mentor. Without him, The Beatles wouldn’t have been the band we came to know and love. And after his death, they were never quite the same.
From the moment he first saw The Beatles perform at the Cavern in 1961, Brian knew they had something special. Despite being completely new to music management, he convinced them that he was the man to guide them — and that’s exactly what he did. He overhauled their image, helped refine their stage presentation and secured them that all-important record deal. And from then on, he was always there, looking out for them.
No, he wasn’t perfect — far from it. He made mistakes, particularly when it came to merchandising and the band’s earnings. As he said himself, “I’m probably too conscious of ideas, rather than finance behind ideas.” However, despite his shortcomings, there’s no doubt he was a decent man who wanted the best for The Beatles.
For someone with no previous management experience, Brian dealt remarkably well with the sheer craziness of Beatlemania. The world had never seen anything quite like it, and although it was often difficult and stressful for John, Paul, George and Ringo to cope with such fan hysteria (particularly George, who never much enjoyed the whole idea of fame), Brian did his utmost to protect them and ensure that they didn’t go completely off the rails — which would have been easy to do, and many artists over the years have.
There’s no getting around the fact that, when The Beatles stopped touring and focused all their energies on recording, Brian’s role started to diminish. Whether this would have changed had he not died is difficult to say, but you only have to look at the way things ended up for The Beatles (with the whole Allen Klein saga and the souring of their relationships with one another) to understand the huge impact Brian made on their lives and careers. They clearly missed his support.
I think Brian’s greatest quality as manager of The Beatles is simply how well he understood them. He was able to see their potential at that lunchtime performance in 1961, and his absolute belief in them never waned. He famously remarked that people would still be listening to The Beatles in the year 2000, and he was proved right.
Brian Epstein’s love for and dedication to The Beatles should always be celebrated. It’s something many other bands have lacked in their managers, and it undoubtedly helped make The Beatles what they were and are today.