Brian Epstein served as the Beatles manager from January 1962 until his death in 1967, and helped shape a vision for a modern rock and roll band.
Born in Liverpool in 1934, Epstein first got involved in the music business when he took over the record department of his family’s music store, NEMS. His devotion to making the store a success transformed it into an essential gathering place for the young people of Northern England who sought to stay current with pop music. It was at NEMS that Epstein first became aware of the Beatles.
Epstein immediately recognized the Beatles’ potential as performers and recording artists. He signed them to a management contract in early 1962, and was the driving force behind getting the band a recording contract with Parlophone later that year. Epstein’s keen eye for style and fashion helped shape a unique, charismatic identity for the band. Although Epstein didn’t always make the best business decisions for the band in the nascent rock and roll industry, his management style forged success for the Beatles, and he was completely dedicated to the band. Paul McCartney said: “If anyone was the fifth Beatle it was Brian. People talked about George Martin as being the fifth Beatle because of his musical involvement but, particularly in the early days, Brian was very much part of the group.”
Epstein went on to sign a large stable of Liverpool artists in the wake of the Beatles success, including Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, and Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, but his first priority was always the Beatles. After the Beatles stopped touring in August 1966 and focused their work in the studio, Epstein had fewer responsibilities with the band, fell into drug addiction and died of an overdose in August 1967.