Brian Epstein: The Man Behind the Beatles

By | Feb 08, 2013
2006 July-August, Arts & Culture

The Beatles, as we know them, recorded their first single the following month. On October 5, 1962, Parlophone released “Love Me Do.” Brian Epstein and the Beatles began their wild ride. After years of dreaming, the five young men stepped together into a film running on fast forward. When “Love Me Do” reached number 17 on the British charts, they were overjoyed.

Throughout 1962 and in the first months of 1963, the band toured Britain nearly nonstop, with every detail meticulously planned by Epstein. “There was a touch of a parent’s pride as they grew,” says Geller. “He was very much part of that growth, especially in the early days of touring both in Britain and in the United States. He was always there for the shows, usually standing off at one side of the stage.”

Though he’d gotten himself closer to the stage, Epstein could still only circle the spotlight. “Brian was a failed creative person,” says Geller. “The Beatles were successful performers. Brian envied that; he was a wistful admirer. He wanted to be an artist, not a manager. But he also had the self-awareness to see the difference between what you can do and what you’d like to do. He chose what he could do. He propelled them.”

Sometime alongside this flourishing business relationship, a deep personal bond had formed between Eppy and his boys. In 1962, Lennon’s girlfriend, Cynthia Powell, became pregnant. Aware that the band’s appeal depended in part on the “availability” of its members, Epstein quietly arranged the wedding and gave them his flat in Liverpool. When Julian Lennon was born, Epstein was named his godfather, and would later be best man for both Harrison and Starr.

“We all liked him,” Cynthia Lennon has said, “because he was so obviously genuine. He had a sunshine face, manners and was very sweet, a gentleman. He was much older than us mentally. I held him a little in awe because I’d never met ‘a Brian’ before. He had life all sussed out, it seemed to us. He had suits and ties that matched.”

Although Epstein never played favorites, he had a clear affection for John. There are lingering rumors that he was in love with Lennon and that their relationship was consummated during a vacation the two took together in Spain shortly after Cynthia gave birth to Julian. Most friends, including other Beatles, have said that this is simply untrue. Lennon was a confirmed heterosexual, and Epstein wouldn’t have crossed professional boundaries.

Lennon was a captivating man and it is not outside of the realm of possibility that Epstein was physically attracted to him, says British rock journalist Steve Turner, author of the forthcoming The Gospel According to the Beatles. “Epstein liked rougher people, he liked being taunted and being treated in a cruel way,” he says. “There was something in him that drove him to this: Maybe he came to see abuse as something that he deserved. John did have that kind of wicked way of talking.”

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