Documentary examining the turbulent life and career of the Beatles manager Brian Epstein, who died in 1967 in mysterious circumstances.
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This programme contains some strong language.
He'd driven back to London.
We don't know what happened after that. He stayed up all night.
Then the next day, the house man called me
and said that he was still in his room and there was no sign of life.
NEW SPEAKER: It was Sunday, August 27th, 1967.
I switched the TV on and it was announced that he was dead.
And I cried, like other people I knew had cried.
-I think he woke up in the night and thought, "I haven't had my sleeping pill,"
and took a couple more.
Since then, there's been millions of rumours - Suicide? Murder?
NEW SPEAKER: He was certainly in a very positive state of mind.
He'd made a plans for the future, I'd spoken to him two days before. He was anything but suicidal.
He was just a beautiful fella.
-What are your plans now?
-We haven't made any.
We've only just heard.
The two strange expressions he used prior to his death were
"Beware the ides of March," - this was three weeks to a month before he died.
And also, "I feel as thought I am a Svengali who's created a monster."
WOMAN: He had such immense charm. Immense.
And his strongest card...
Say you're measuring him up against someone like Robert Stigwood,
his strongest card is that he cared for the community he served - us,
this group of young artistic free spirits,
ranging from Mick Jagger to John Lennon to Joe Orton
to Edward Bond to Bill Gaskill to everywhere you could possibly go.
Andy Warhol... Everybody, it was all connected.
And somebody like Robert Fraser was doing artwork.
Brian was going to be the synthesising force, with the help of The Beatles, of course.
We totally believed in him, thought he was a great man.
I don't think we ever questioned his judgment. It was very sound.
Brian was the fifth Beatle.
I was pretty close to Brian
because if somebody is going to manage me, I want to know them.
He told me he was a fag and all that.
I introduced him to pills - which gives me a guilt association for his death -
to make him talk and find out what he was like.
"Though I didn't seek it, the fame has overtaken me, and this is not always pleasant.
"I believe in democracy,
"but I like to see one man in charge, answerable for his mistakes.
"There ARE penalties.
"The chief of them is loneliness, for I must bear the strain alone.
"Not only the office or theatre, but at home in the small hours.
"I suffer the most because I hold myself responsible.
"It isn't the money that worries me, it's the failure.
"Partly because of my youth, partly because of my background and partly because of my provincial origins."
ORGAN PLAYS: "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles"
This was to my parents.
It was written on the 15th of August 1946.
They were on holiday in Grange-over-Sands.
It says, "Dear Gramma and Grampa..." With Ms!
"..I hope you are well. I am having a most enjoyable holiday.
"Yours, Brian." And underneath, "Love to Auntie Stella."
"My father Harry was the eldest of six. There were 18 years between him and Stella.
"He fulfilled his father Isaac's dream of settling in business in England."
My father was born in Lithuania in a village called Hudan.
He came over here when he was probably about 18 or 19.
He had a furniture shop.
He bought another shop which was next to the furniture shop and made a way through
so that you could get from one to the other.
It's a picture of Queenie and Harry on their wedding day.
Two pages, two bridesmaids - I was one of those.
Brian was born on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
We're now coming up to my old house.
Here it is, with the conifers I planted 20 years ago
which have never been pruned.
Next door to the Epstein house with its overgrown front bushes
which were, I think, holly trees that have never been pruned.
They built their home themselves and it was a very nice house.
It was a detached house with five bedrooms
and plenty of living rooms. It was very nice indeed.
"I am an elder son, a hallowed position in a Jewish family
"and much was to be expected of me.
"My mother was intensely proud that her first-born was a boy.
"When, 21 months later, my brother Clive arrived,
"the Epsteins looked like being a happy family unit."
Queenie was very close to the boys. She really loved them.
They were a very happy family. It looked like a golden family,
quite like a fairy story.
Unfortunately, later on, things would become very, very sad.
MUSIC: "Tomorrow Never Knows" by The Beatles
He had an immense affection for his parents and for his brother.
He didn't want, consciously, to upset them.
He was elegant, fastidiously so,
and he had a very great...presence.
He was good looking, well mannered.
He was temperamental.
He could be very effusive or he could be very taciturn.
He felt himself a square peg in a round hole from a long, long time
and wanted to escape the background which he'd been brought up in.
CANTOR SINGS IN HEBREW, CONGREGATION RESPONDS
HE SINGS IN HEBREW, CONGREGATION RESPONDS
"My parents despaired many times over the years. I don't blame them.
"Throughout my school days, I never quite fit.
"I was nagged and bullied, beloved of neither boys nor masters.
"At the aged of ten, I had already been to three schools and liked none of them.
"My father had been a solid and successful grammar school boy
"and he found it difficult to know why I was so wretched a pupil.
"Recently, referring to a diary I kept then,
"I found I had written in reference to the next term at my ninth school,
"'I go only for my parents' pleasure.'
"But I don't blame my parents for anything concerning my upbringing.
"Their wrongdoings were committed with the best intentions,
"with love and devotion."
The family expected Brian to go into the business,
follow in his father's footsteps,
as Harry had done.
But that wasn't to be because Brian was not interested in that sort of thing.
He would have liked to have been a dress designer.
I didn't even know this at the time. I found this out later.
I think Harry and Queenie must have gone up the pole!
"This caused a great deal of distress.
"For the masters at my last public school, nothing could be less manly than dress designing.
"Although I knew good design from bad, though I could create dresses and draw them,
"though to be a dress designer was all I wanted to be, I dutifully went to work in the family business.
"I began to study all the various aspects of retail furnishing.
"I was, and still am, very interested in the way things should be displayed,
"how things should be designed and presented.
"And I have a self-devouring passion for quality.
"I placed chairs in the windows with their backs to the shoppers.
"Backs on view?! Unheard of!
"Yet in every home, you see the backs of chairs.
"You cannot enter a room without seeing the back of a chair.
"I was very keen on splayed legs.
"Slowly the post-war austerity hangover was diminishing
"and sellers and buyers were reluctant to return to the ugliness of '30s design."
They were like nobility to me.
Brian's father was in the retail furniture business.
My father made furniture for Brian's father's business.
And of course that's how we knew each other.
MUSIC: "The Street Where You Live"
# I have often walked
# Down this street before
# But the pavement always stayed... #
We liked stage shows, musicals. We liked musical films.
Brian and I would discuss how, er, our feelings were different.
First of all, you notice that you don't discuss girls so much.
But you discuss, er... leading players
and shows and cinema. Things like that.
You're more attracted to a star.
And then you gradually realise that you've got to be as honest as possible.
But at the same time, the people that you don't want to hurt
are your parents.
And in those days, you were a queer.
And it wasn't a very nice thing to hear about yourself
because you know that you're NOT queer in your head.
So you do resent that.
So you try and fight what you're being called.
Brian and I realised
that we were breaking the law to be gay.
We knew of people who were taken away to a place called Rainhill
which is ten miles outside Liverpool.
Well, it was a loony bin, a lunatic asylum.
And there was no way I was going to there.
There was no way I wanted Brian to go there.
"The design of the store was becoming my responsibility.
"My mother and father were quite pleased with their Brian.
"The future seemed firm and bright and assured.
"But on December the ninth, 1952, a letter came to tell the young son and heir
"that he was to present himself for a medical exam for the army.
"Several of the public schoolboys who shared my moans at first
"were snatched away to become officer cadets, but I was not included.
"I cannot imagine anything worse for morale, than Lieutenant Epstein in charge under heavy fire!
"I reported to the barracks doctor
"who, after a long, fruitless talk about my problems and the need to pull myself together,
"referred me to a psychiatrist.
"They decided I was a compulsive civilian and unfit for military service.
"I was no use to the army or it to me, with which view I agreed."
I don't think he had a clue who he was or liked being who he was.
Like he created The Beatles, he also had plans for himself.
The sort of people he wanted to mix with, the people at the Playhouse Theatre.
Alas, she hath from France too long been chaste,
and all her husbandry doth lie on heaps,
corrupting in its own fertility.
Her vine, the merry cheerer of the heart, unpruned, dies...
"Even so, our houses and ourselves and children
"have lost the sciences that should become our country.
"But grow like savages,
"as soldiers will that nothing do but meditate on blood.
"To all that seems unnatural."
This is the speech that I chose for Brian for his audition for RADA
because it embodies his maturity which went beyond his years,
his soulful quality
and his air of dignified quiet authority.
"By night I was seeking escape in the cool and cultivated dusk of the front stalls of the Playhouse.
"The Playhouse was a brilliant group of young actors, designers and writers,
"plus a settled, soon to be stolid, furniture salesman from Walton."
There was a sort of wistfulness about him.
He wanted to belong
to what he perceived was a charmed circle.
He thought we inhabited a magic world and he wanted to become a part of it.
He asked me quite out of the blue,
when we first started to work on choosing the audition piece...
It was obviously uppermost in his mind.
He said, "When you first met me, or when I come into a room,
"are you aware that I'm Jewish?"
And I said, er, "No.
"Is it important? Are you worried about the fact that people might think you are Jewish?"
And he said,
"Well, you see, I think I'd like to do possibly Henry V.
"Will they think I should never choose Henry V because I'm Jewish?"
I said, "There are very cogent reasons why you shouldn't choose Henry V.
"I simply don't see you as a man of action, as a soldier."
Once more...unto the breach, dear friends!
Once more, or close them all up with our English dead!
In peace, there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility.
But when the blast of war blows in our ears...
"I saw a play at the Arts Theatre Club
"and after a quiet coffee, I took a tube home to Swiss Cottage.
"When leaving the tube, I saw a young man staring hard at me who I will refer to as X.
"Then I saw X go into the lavatory. I followed him.
"After a minute, I know he turned his face to glance at me
"and then walked out and waited outside. I followed.
"He loitered, I loitered.
"After several minutes passed, I decided it was dangerous and stupid.
"I walked away towards home.
"I turned to look back and see that he was not following me. He nodded.
"He stood, looking pathetic. I crossed to him. 'Hi,' I said.
"'Hello,' he said. 'What are you doing out so late?' I said. 'Nothing.'
"Long silence. 'Know anywhere to go?' I asked. 'No, do you?'
"'There's an open field along the way.
"'I have to be home early,'" I said. 'All right,' he said.
"I left him and walked hurriedly away. My mind was in great fear and turmoil.
"I looked back and saw X with another man, following me.
"I walked on quickly, forgetting where I was going.
"After a few minutes, they arrested me for 'persistently importuning'.
"When he gave evidence, he included,
"'persistently importuning seven men.'
"I believed that my own willpower
"was the best thing with which to overcome my homosexuality.
"The criminal methods of the police
"and the subsequent capture leaves me finished.
"If I am remanded or given a prison sentence,
"please telephone my father, Harry Epstein, at Liverpool North 3221.
"I apologise for my writing which I realise is difficult to read.
"I was unable to procure a typewriter and my hand is nervous."
Originally, when he lived at home,
he had wanted to present the image of a normal person.
It didn't really work because he always knew
and I believe that his family knew
that he was homosexual. When he lived in London
and when he visited America - he was fascinated with the American homosexual scene -
he behaved sometimes in a way which was very dangerous.
And he was conscious of this.
In some ways, he sought out danger.
It gave him a thrill but, of course, led him into many very awkward situations.
I think, deep down, he didn't want to be homosexual,
but paradoxically, he enjoyed his homosexual experiences.
"So, after the end of my third term at RADA,
"I returned home, nursing a decision never to leave home again
"and hiding a sense of inadequacy which was almost complete."
I'm afraid that his time at RADA
was quite short and he didn't really enjoy it in the end.
So he decided to come back and go into the business.
"The family business went from strength to strength.
"In 1959, we opened another store.
"It had a small record department and I was put in charge of that."
# If I say I love you, do you mind?
# Make an idol of you, do you mind...? #
My offices in the centre of the city occupy the space that used to be used by Brian Epstein for his office.
# Honey, this is how I think of heaven, do you mind? #
This was the beginning of Brian's entrepreneurial skill.
"It was opened by Anthony Newley
"and I persuaded a Decca representative to introduce us.
"Newley was an exceedingly friendly, diffident young man, very modest, and we got on well."
Lights? Give me some light.
"He spent a day with me and my family
"and I recall thinking this was how a real star should behave.
"That is how MY artists behave when they're permitted."
Right, two up, two down and a Wyatt Earp. Hit it!
-# Johnnie is a joker
-He's a bird!
-# A very funny joker
-He's a bird... #
"I wanted to be known as the record dealer who had everything -
"hit songs, small sellers, specialist records, the lot!
"I established a system for showing when a record pile needed renewing so we never ran out out anything.
"I turned no-one away with a 'Sorry, we don't have it.'"
# When the mists are rising and the rain is falling
# And the wind is blowing cold across the moor
# I hear the voice of my darling
# The girl I love and lost... #
Brian said, "Do you ever watch a programme called Compact?
"I've got this press blurb. There's a guy called John Leighton who's going to be singing this song."
So, I heard it and I thought it was diabolical. I said, "One copy in each shop."
He said, "Put it on." He just stood there.
# Remember me... #
And he said, "Right, we'll have 250, 300."
And I just looked at him and said, "Brian, you're joking!"
And, of course, it roared away,
and we were the only shop in the North-West to have copies.
# Remember me... #
My initial impression was that it was just a shop we went into
to admire all the beautiful record covers
and, occasionally, to buy a record.
NEMS stood for North End Music Stores.
Brian's dad, Harry, had once sold a piano to my dad.
So there was a family connection before I even knew him.
So for people who like to think things are fated,
it was even before I knew him.
# Remember me
# Yes, I'll always remember... #
The ceiling was lined with LP covers.
And it was like, "Wow, how did you think that one up?"
No other shop had it.
# Johnny, remember me... #
Saturday, it'd be packed and we had turntables behind the counter.
We would play records and there was a row of booths.
All the kids came in and a lot of them never bought anything.
WOMAN: We just wanted to listen to music.
You'd ask for a certain record to come on.
There'd always be a couple of friends there.
# Walking, talking, living doll... #
We didn't have any money.
If one person bought a record,
out of about 10 of us,
they were lucky.
Other people bought records, but people I was with didn't.
This is where all the classical stock was kept.
And downstairs? >
Downstairs here, which we can't go down to,
but it's down there, in Brian's old office -
he had his own office for running the shop -
that we actually signed the first contract with The Beatles.
And we had two windows of course.
Brian's great secret was that he didn't just put new records in,
he made displays - there'd be cocktail glasses and a chair...
He created a picture. He'd make it like a theatrical set.
"To write at all, I found it necessary to consume five whiskies
"before putting pen to paper.
"Of course, I'd planned writing for a long time.
"This was the only way to rid myself
"of humdrum, dreary, god-forsaken suburbia.
"The thing is to get away from it all. I fancy Rome.
"That's why I'm writing. If I plant Rome in a text, you'll know why.
"I should add that I want to live there in great luxury for a long time.
"To live Italian,
to add myself to that attractive, ridiculous little group
"that newspaper hickeys call 'the international set'."
I thought I should get to know him as he was rich, attractive.
He intended going places.
He wore monogrammed shirts and went to La Plage for his holidays, mixing with "the better people".
He was not a happy person.
But it would take an unhappy person who was sure of themselves,
with all those illusions of grandeur - maybe they weren't illusions -
it would take someone as mad as that to have the dreams that he had, and accomplish what he did.
It did have to be someone as strange as him.
This is my club - at least all that's left of it.
Behind that door there's a dark passage.
We kept it dark so no-one knew it was here.
Brian came once a week.
I had some attractive young men coming in - waiters from the Adelphi.
I bought most of the music from Brian.
The music was good,
so, naturally, he would come, and he was presentable and he mixed in very well.
Wherever homosexuals were, they had to be secretive.
There's lots of, um, beliefs, sort of amongst tough men
that so called "poofs and pansies" have a harder time, but it isn't so.
Lots of poofs and pansies are as tough as...uh
people can be in a tough city like Liverpool.
He'd left my house about 10.00pm and by quarter to midnight he was back on my doorstep.
And he left my house in a beautiful white shirt,
but when he came back on my doorstep, it was a brilliant red.
He'd been knocked about so much, and he didn't even come back in his car that night.
I bathed him, I got him right.
He did stay the night.
He went back home, or wherever he went the next morning, looking reasonably, reasonably good.
NEW SPEAKER: The whole blackmail situation happened before I knew him and I didn't know about it
until he felt comfortable enough to let me into this embarrassing secret,
which, actually, was pretty well contained within Liverpool, though obviously some people knew about it.
He explained it to me - it had been a devastating experience,
not only the being beaten up and the blackmail, but the embarrassment to the family,
to himself with the family and the family's embarrassment.
RABBI CHANTS IN HEBREW
He had everything going for him, he was successful at what he was doing.
The record shops would have got bigger,
it would have become a small chain. It would have been an achievement but it had already lost its interest.
There was an element of danger seeker.
There was an element of the gambling instinct - he had a gambling trait.
# Mashed potato, yeah
# Oh, yeah
# Oh, yeah
# Oh, shake it
# Hey, baby
# Yeah, oh, yeah
# Hey, baby
# Come on, baby
# Mashed potato, yeah
# Woh, right
# Whaah right... #
NEW SPEAKER: In Liverpool, there would have been 40 skiffle bands, skiffle groups...
Rock 'n' roll blossomed in Liverpool - we had a million groups.
The nice thing was there were also a lot of venues to play.
We could play every night for six months at a different venue.
All I wanted to do was to continue playing.
I worked on the railways, and finished there to go to Hamburg.
If I could make a living as a musician, that's what I want. That's all I wanted to do.
MUSIC: "Violin Concerto No. 1" by Max Bruch
"Although I now ran the biggest record store in the North-West with many teenage clients,
"and although I had an ear for a Top Twenty hit
"I wasn't interested in pop music and had little idea of the burgeoning Liverpool pop scene.
"I'd come back from a holiday in Spain during which I'd wondered how I could expand my interests."
MUSIC: "Violin Concerto No. 1" by Max Bruch
"By autumn 1961, the store was running like an 18-jewelled watch.
"It was showing good returns and the systems were so automatic that I was again becoming bored.
"Life was getting too easy.
"Then, suddenly, an 18-year-old boy in jeans and black leather jacket came into the store and said,
"'Have you got a disc by The Beatles?' His name was Raymond Jones."
This is one of those myths.
What happened was I got fed up with youngsters coming and asking for The Beatles' record.
It was called "My Bonnie" by Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers.
So I put the name Raymond Jones in the order book.
We had to order a minimum of 25, on import from Germany.
I bought one, to cover Raymond Jones.
Brian did a hand-written notice in the window, "Beatles record available here."
In an hour or so, it was sold out. The other 24 had gone.
Brian said, "Let's have lunch and we'll drop in the Cavern and see this band."
We've been accused that we must have known they were from Liverpool, but we weren't interested in pop music.
It was only later we thought, "We know them. We've seen them in the shop!"
# I'm gonna Kansas City
# Gonna get my baby one time, Yeah, yeah
# It's just a one, two, three, four
# Five, six, seven, eight, nine
# Ahhhh, Woooh...#
This is Matthew Street.
It's amazing. It's full of Beatles - a John Lennon bar, a Beatles shop, Cavern pub...
The one thing that isn't here, ironically, is the original Cavern.
It's gone. This is where it was,
where Brian and I walked down the steps on that fateful day, November 9th, 1961.
"Never had I thought of managing an artist or representing one.
"I'll never know what made me say to them that I thought a further meeting might be helpful.
"But something must have sparked between us,
"because I arranged a meeting at the Whitechapel store at 4.30pm on December 3rd, 1961,
"just for a chat."
"On that cold, grey afternoon in December in my office,
"I entered a whole new world."
NEW SPEAKER: Now they're The Beatles and all very rich,
but if you saw them at my mother's they were just scruffy boys.
Who'd look at them?
George sulking cos he fancied our Joan and she was marrying Sam.
You know, you've got John breaking eggs on beehives.
But they were a scruffy bunch of boys - I wouldn't bother with them.
But then, Brian stood out, he looked like the real thing.
He was handsome, tall, immaculate.
Then my mum in the background was saying, "He's different".
I hadn't had anything to do with pop management
or management of pop artists before that day I went to the Cavern and heard The Beatles play.
This was quite a new world for me.
I was amazed by this sort of dark, smoky, dank atmosphere with this beat music playing away.
The Beatles were then just four lads on that rather dimly lit stage,
somewhat ill-clad and the presentation left a little to be desired as far as I was concerned,
cos I've been interested in the theatre for a long time.
But amongst all that, something tremendous came over.
I was immediately struck by their music, their beat,
and their sense of humour on stage.
When I met them after, I was struck by their personal charm.
My Dad said, "This could be a really good thing".
He thought Jewish people were good with money. This was the common wisdom.
So he thought Brian would be very good for us - very sensible, very charming
and he was right.
Having gone to RADA, he was different from everyone else.
He was quite different from anybody else.
"I went to see a lawyer friend, Rex Makin, to discuss management
"and to try and share some of my excitement about The Beatles.
"Makin, who'd known me for years, said, 'Oh, another Epstein idea.
"'How long before you lose interest?'
"It was justifiable but offended me because I felt I would permanently be involved with The Beatles.
REX MAKIN: He had enthusiasms.
And he had sudden bursts of flights of fancy,
but he wasn't really very stable.
So he was rather like a butterfly.
And, of course, butterflies are very colourful and don't settle for very long with any one object.
# How do you do what you do to me
# I wish I knew
# If I knew how you do it to me I'd do it to you... #
Brian was the last person I would have said would make a good manager.
He was just selling records in his Dad's shop - nice guy,
well brought up, great family, his mum and dad and his brother.
I never thought he would have the strength. Although he wasn't strong, he had the strength to manage.
It took a lot to manage The Beatles - Lennon was no push-over, nor was Paul.
We were no push-over either, so, yes, it did surprise me.
# ..You do what you do to me, if I only knew
# Then perhaps you'd fall for me like I fell for you... #
NEW SPEAKER: We'd been to the Knotty Ash club,
for my sister's engagement, and The Beatles played there,
and Rory and a few other groups.
Afterwards, as usual, we all went back to the house.
Brian came along - quite a lot of people, you know, from the night.
And Brian came over for the drinks - you know, Brian liked to drink.
He stuck by the bar talking to me most of the night.
He asked me to dance and I said, "I can't leave the bar."
So I didn't want to dance.
Then, he said,
"OK, if you won't come over this side, I'll come over there." And he ducked into the cloakroom with me.
And he stayed there all night.
To me, Brian was just an ordinary... Not just ordinary, he was one of the sexiest fellas I'd ever met.
But then, people say, "Oh, well, Brian was gay," but he wasn't very gay with me.
He was just like any other man, and more.
When I first saw him, I thought he was very stiff, standoffish, superior.
You see, in the shop, Brian seemed like a man, like your Dad, shouting at you and superior,
an attitude of superiority.
And then, in the house...
I thought he was a very passionate, loving person, but he was like two different people.
If there's a third person involved - this gay person - I just say he's a helluva man,
to be able to please everybody.
MUSIC: "Some Other Guy" by The Beatles
We went back to Germany and we bought leather pants
and looked like four Gene Vincents, only a bit younger.
That was it, we kept the leather gear until Brian came along.
It was a bit old hat - all wearing leather gear.
And we decided we didn't want to look ridiculous going on,
because, more often than not, most people would laugh.
We didn't want to appear as a gang of idiots and Brian suggested we wore ordinary suits.
So we got what we thought were good suits and got rid of the leathers.
# Some other guy, now
# Has taken my love away from me, oh now
# Some other guy, now
# Has taken away my sweet desire, oh now
# Some other guy, now
# I just don't wanna hold my hand, oh now
# I'm the lonely one, as lonely as I can feel
# All right, some other guy
# Is sippin' up the honey like a yellow dog, oh no
# Some other guy, now... #
Brian's father, Harry, would come in to the shop and I daren't tell him cos sometimes Brian would say,
"Don't tell Daddy.
"Don't tell him where I've gone." And he'd be down in London.
I used to think of all sorts of excuses of where Brian was - he was late back from lunch,
or at another meeting, and Harry wasn't silly, he began to cotton on that Brian was away too often.
John and I used to wait at Lime Street Station,
in a coffee bar called Punch And Judy.
We'd wait for Brian coming back from London.
We'd look at his face to see if it was good news or bad - it was always bad.
We'd have a coffee and discuss what happened.
He'd say, "People aren't interested. It's gonna be a hard sell."
"Dear Mr White, as I haven't heard from you with regard to the matter we discussed last week,
"I thought I'd try to impress you with my enthusiasm for the potential success of The Beatles.
"If I didn't mention they are so much better in reality,
"it was because I assumed you'd heard it all before.
"Next week, they'll be heard by Decca's A&R men.
"I mention this because, if we could choose, it would be EMI.
"They play mostly their own songs. One of them is the hottest material since 'Living Doll'."
GEORGE MARTIN: He'd been rejected by everybody. Absolutely everybody had turned it down.
They did rock 'n' roll standards and some of their own stuff which wasn't very good.
"Love Me Do" was the best and things like
"Your Feet's Too Big" by Fats Waller. They had an enormous repertoire.
I was quite impressed with his devotion and zeal,
which made me want to see them.
I hadn't got a great deal to lose, and when I met them and worked with them,
I got the same feeling he'd got - it was a kind of falling in love.
They had tremendous charisma which no-one else had recognised.
# Love, love me do
# You know I love you
# I'll always be true
# So ple-e-e-e-ase
# Love me do
# Woh-oh, love me do... #
He was living at home.
There was a point, I think just before the Beatle explosion, where he got himself
a small apartment in the centre of Liverpool not far from me.
I know it was never a place where he was thinking of living - it wasn't furnished -
if Brian was gonna live there he'd have done a whole job on it, which he never did.
Very soon, I think, after he got it, then, of course, John Lennon married Cynthia
and she was pregnant and had Julian, and he gave it to them to live in.
Cyn was having a baby and the holiday was planned.
I wasn't gonna break the holiday for a baby - that's what a bastard I was.
I just went on holiday and I watched Brian picking up the boys.
We were just Liverpool guys, so the word was "queer" not "gay".
We didn't have a problem, we just made fun of it.
We didn't actually know any, well, we probably did,
but you did talk about it. The word was out that Brian was gay.
Um, the great thing for us was that it didn't really affect us in any way.
I think we suspected he might hit on one of us,
so in the early days,
we were slightly wondering if that was his interest in us.
But in my personal knowledge, he didn't.
I don't know the truth of the John rumour.
All I can say is I slept with John a lot, cos you had to sleep and there was no more than one bed,
and to my knowledge, John was never gay.
I suspected that the John thing and Brian was a power play - cos John was a political animal.
I suspect John went away on that Spanish holiday
one, cos no-one went on holiday, anyone would have gone - a free holiday, yes, I'm there!
Two, I'm sure John took Brian aside, and said, "You wanna deal with this group, I'm the guy you deal with."
John was like that - very sensible, very pragmatic.
I'm sure that was the reason John went.
As to whether there was any gay dalliance, I don't know, I can't tell you that.
But Brian was very straightforward with me about it.
We could talk very openly about it.
Um, and I say, he never hit on me, there was never any question of it at all.
We lived so intimately together that there would have been one day, if it was in his character to do it.
JOHN LENNON: We didn't have an affair, not an affair.
I liked playing a bit faggy, you know, it was enjoyable...
But there were big rumours in Liverpool. It was terrible, very embarrassing.
PETER BROWN: The amphetamines started around that time.
He was introduced to these by The Beatles and other groups.
I'm sure some of Brian's initial reasons for the amphetamines
was to be part of the group, part of The Beatles -
to be cool, to show that he was cool, and, you know, hip,
and it did help - he was under pressure and these stimulants do work.
The amphetamines would keep you up and then you'd take sleeping pills and then you wake up feeling rotten
as a result of the sleeping pills and that would start the cycle off - it was a horrendous cycle.
"Many other things happened in that first, extraordinary year.
"I'd become the manager of several first-class artists.
"After The Beatles, I signed Gerry And The Pacemakers,
"Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas and a group called The Big Three.
"I was interested in a slim thing called Priscilla White and a freckled lad called Quigley.
"It was, in fact, all happening."
Artists credit him with a unique judgment of what will be a hit.
Nearly all of them earn more than the Prime Minister.
-May we talk to you about Brian Epstein?
-What does he mean to you?
No, seriously, he's done a lot for us.
He tells us what to do, made us wear suits and everything.
-Even in our private lives, he does a lot.
-What other things,
-apart from telling you what suits to wear?
-Well, sort of little things.
If you have any money troubles, you can always go to Brian
and ask him what to do. He'll always tell you as a pal.
NEW SPEAKER: When Brian said, "Maybe I can get a record deal for you," we thought he was crazy.
"OK, let's make a record. We can tell our kids about it and maybe get a few more quid."
Never thinking for one second that we would become famous, if that's the word,
or that The Beatles would become the biggest thing since sliced bread.
It was just Brian's great foresight that saw what would happen.
The Beatles didn't know. London didn't know about The Beatles.
# Say the words I long to hear
# I'm in love with you Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh!
# Oh, I've known a secret for a week or two
# Nobody knows, just we two... #
They arranged all our travel for us.,
They arranged our hotels.
You know, just about everything.
No matter where we were in the world,
Brian always made sure that we were taken care of financially.
This envelope arrived every Saturday
with a cash float.
And we would all each have a cheque...
for the balance of what we'd earned to be sent to our accounts.
Billy J Kramer is another from the stable who gets a frenzied welcome from his public.
Epstein says Kramer's good looks will take him to the top.
As no-one listened to the song, this is important.
SCREAMS DROWN OUT SONG
He'd come and see a show and critique it.
He'd really rip it apart.
You know, I used to see
different members of his stable on Jukebox Jury -
The Beatles, Cilla Black, Gerry Marsden.
And I'd ask Brian, "Why can't I do Jukebox Jury?"
And he says, "Because you don't speak well enough."
You know, he says, "Your diction and the way you speak is terrible.
"You need elocution lessons."
STRONG LIVERPUDLIAN ACCENT: He tried to stop us talking like that.
SOFTER ACCENT: So we had to change and try to be a bit more metropolitan in our accent.
# We've got a dance in Liverpool
# The cats and chicks think it's cool
# It started off with just a romp
# Now they call it the Cavern Stomp
# Let's stomp, let's stomp... #
The Big Three was really a rhythm and blues band.
We tried our best to be true to what we all liked.
We just wanted to be rough and ready. You know, down-home rockers.
But Brian tried to single me out, to be a front man
with the tight trousers and you know.
But I couldn't be a Jess Conrad type and sing Little Richard songs.
# Do the Cavern Stomp... #
"When I took on The Big Three, the group had a very good sound.
"But there was a lack of discipline.
"This cannot be tolerated because it's bad for business and extremely bad for morale.
"I was sorry to lose them because Johnny Gustafson, now with the Merseybeats, is a fine property -
"strong musically and physically and very good looking."
We were different from The Beatles. We were more working class.
They were more middle class, I think.
They had a different train of thought. They thought further ahead than we did.
We didn't wear the suits he provided.
If we went away on tour, the suits stayed in the van. We wore jeans
and scruffy shoes.
We'd forget our gear, leave it on the pavement and borrow stuff when we got there.
We'd never had a PA. He used to give us money for hotels. We'd sleep in the van and spend it in the pub.
Just things like that he didn't take too kindly to!
So he just fired us!
AMERICAN ACCENT: I was sitting in my office one day
and I got a call from a Brian Epstein. I didn't know who he was.
I picked up the phone and he said, "Why won't you put out The Beatles?
"Have you heard them?" I said no. "Please listen and call me back." So I said sure.
Columbia Records, RCA - then RCA Victor records -
Decca Records, a very big company, A&M Records.
Everyone turned them down. They finally got Swan Records who put out two records.
And nothing happened and Swan gave them up, didn't want them any more.
And that could have been the end of The Beatles in America.
"By early 1963, my acts were the most successful in the country.
"But no-one had heard of us in America.
"All of my boys idolised America's rock and roll stars.
"But there seemed little chance of the compliment being returned.
"Then one evening, the phone rang."
MAN: Brian was still working out of his home, so I called him in Liverpool.
His mother answered - Queenie.
We talked about the book review of the New York Times.
Finally she said, "Let me get my son, Mr Bernstein."
I heard footsteps. He was coming down from his workshop.
And he said, "Mr Bernstein, can I help you?"
And I said, "I'm interested in your group."
He said, "Why would you want to commit suicide? We can't get any airplay in New York."
I had not at this time heard a note of their music, but I was obsessed with the idea of presenting them.
He said, "Do you know how much money we get?" I said, "I've no idea."
He said, "We get 2,000 a night for one show."
I said, "I will give you 6,500 for one day for two shows."
And he said, "Wait till I tell the boys that some crazy American
"wants to give me 6,500 for two shows in one day."
He says, "You've got a deal!"
MUSIC: "Someone To Love"
I'm so happy to be here tonight.
So glad to be in your wonderful city.
And I have a little message for you.
And I want to tell every woman and every man tonight
that's every needed someone to love,
that's ever had somebody to love,
that's ever had somebody to understand them,
that's ever had someone that needs their love all the time,
someone that's with them when they're up and they're down.
If you ever had somebody like this, you better hold onto them.
Let me tell you something, sometimes you get what you want
and you lose what you had...
"Operation USA started in November 1963. I went to New York and took Billy J Kramer with me.
"The trip cost me £2,000 because we stayed in an extremely good hotel
"and we lived demonstrably to impress the Americans that we were important.
"Actually, we were of no great importance to the Americans.
"We were two ordinary travellers. I only had the names of three contacts."
I was walking with Brian and Billy J Kramer through Times Square
and Billy caught sight in one of the shop windows of a Western style fringed shirt.
"Oooh," he said, "I like that!"
And Brian said, "No, Billy, not your style at all!" And Billy didn't buy it.
Brian was always very conscious of how his artists ought to look
and Billy's style was clean cut.
That's the image Brian wanted him to retain. No country and western!
KRAMER: Then he went on to give me a big lecture in a restaurant.
"If you lost some weight, we could make some fantastic movies and you could have a different career."
I said, "I have a hard time miming to records, never mind acting."
I was smart and had the boy-next-door image
and he thought maybe I was the one that was gonna do it.
GERRY MARSDEN: Brian used to say, there's no bad publicity.
Once we made the records, Brian realised we needed it worldwide.
He was trying to get us abroad,
to get on TV. Brian was the first to realise how important that was.
"Ed Sullivan had the number-one show on American TV.
"I heard that he'd witnessed Beatlemania at London Airport.
"He agreed to see me and I found him a most genial fellow.
"I demanded that The Beatles had top billing.
"After a lot of resistance
"Sullivan relented and we got our top billing.
"The show attracted the highest audience in the history of US TV."
GEORGE MARTIN: That year, 1963, I had 37 weeks in the number-one spot.
All these acts were Epstein acts.
And he then realised that he had the makings of a a latterday Diaghilev.
He saw himself as an impresario with a stable of great stars.
Brian wanted to be a star. That's the essential part of Brian.
And he couldn't do it as an actor.
And now he could do it as a man who was a manipulator, a puppeteer, if you like.
It's a pretty heady wine when everything you do becomes successful.
"For years, The Beatles had watched the American charts with remote envy.
"The US charts were unattainable.
"Only Stateside artists ever made any imprint.
"Always America seemed too big, too vast, too remote and too American.
"I remember the night we heard about the number one.
"I said to John, 'There can be nothing more important.'
"Adding a tentative, 'Can there?'"
# Oh, yeah, I'll tell you something
# I think you'll understand
# When I say that something
# I wanna hold your hand
# I wanna hold your hand
# I wanna hold your hand
# And when I touch you... #
"Whatever happens tomorrow, one thing is certain.
"It must not be allowed to look after itself.
"Tomorrow must be under my control.
"Yesterday was a wonderful day.
"It was warm and the sun shone and The Beatles were brilliant. Today is nice too.
"There's still no change in the weather, but we must be on our guard.
"It might be as well to carry our raincoats. Then it won't rain.
"It's a great privilege being the weatherman, keeping The Beatles dry.
"I enjoy it far too much to relax.
"However much I socialise with the famous,
"best of all and far beyond anything that money can buy,
"I love to lean on my elbows and watch the curtain rise on
"John, Paul, George, Ringo, Billy, Tommy, Cilla. They've stunned the world.
"I think the sun WILL shine tomorrow."
# ..I think you'll understand
# When I feel that something
# I wanna hold your hand
# I wanna hold your hand
# I wanna hold your hand
# I wanna hold your ha-a-a-a-and! #
Subtitles by BBC Subtitling, 1998
First in a two-part documentary examining the turbulent life and career of Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Gay when homosexuality was illegal, a gambler, shopkeeper and failed actor, he was also pop king with a Midas touch who, in the 60s, was as well known as the band he managed.