Brian Samuel Epstein (19 September 1934 – 27 August 1967) was who managed the Beatles. Epstein first discovered the Beatles in November 1961 during a lunchtime performance at The Cavern Club. He was instantly impressed and saw great potential in the group. Epstein was rejected by nearly all major recording companies in London, until he secured a meeting with George Martin, head of EMI’s Parlophone label. In May 1962, Martin agreed to sign the Beatles, partly because of Epstein’s conviction that the group would become internationally famous. The Beatles’ early success has been attributed to Epstein’s management style, and the band trusted him without hesitation. In addition to handling the Beatles’ business affairs, Epstein often stepped in to mediate personal disputes within the group. In 1997, Paul McCartney said, “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian.”
The predominant narrative of Beatles history gives insufficient credit to the role Epstein played in shaping the group’s image and preparing them for international adulation. He dressed them in tailored suits; fostered their songwriting; In the words of Beatles producer George Martin, he “gave them style, taste, and charm.” As Vivek Tiwary put it in The Fifth Beatle, his illustrated novel about Epstein, the manager “played the business as his instrument.” And he excelled in the role: “Brian was a passionate man who would not take ‘no’ for an answer on behalf of his lads, and that is how we got to hear the Beatles’ music,” said Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones’ former manager, in a 2000 interview with rock journalist Harvey Kubernik.
Brian Epstein helped convince the world that the Beatles were the most special group that rock had ever known, even while he labored under the specter of a law that could ruin him at any moment.
“In many ways, the whole world is living out this visionary dream that Epstein had,” says Rolling Stone columnist Rob Sheffield, who recently released his acclaimed book Dreaming the Beatles. And yet, Sheffield observes, “The whole terror of the law that he had to live with, that nobody knew about in his lifetime and that I didn’t know about until recent years—he never knew what it was like to live his life without that.”