Saturday, November 14, 2009

Who on Earth Was the Fifth Beatle?

By Bobby A. Spider

On January 24, 1962 the Beatles started to be managed by Brian Epstein. His role in the group was cut short by his sudden death on August 27, 1967 of a drug overdose. Along with the Beatles, Brian managed other groups and artists, such as: Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Cilla Black, and the Remo Four ... but the Beatles were by far the most popular.

What was the impact of Brian Epstein on the development of the Beatles? He has long been attributed to the success of the Beatles (especially in the early years). Paul McCartney is said to have uttered, "If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian".

Brian Samuel Epstein was born on September 19, 1934 in the port city of Liverpool, England. At the young age of 16 he expressed his desire to become a dress designer, but that didn't sit well with his father. His father, mortified at this suggestion, ordered him to "report for duty" at the family's furniture shop. This was certainly not Brian's idea of a meaningful career, but he did comply with the demand.

It is thought that the first time Brian heard of the Beatles was via the issues of the Mersey Beat, and on the numerous posters of them that were displayed around Liverpool at the time. On November 9, 1961 he went past "heard of them" to "heard them" perform at the Cavern Club. He was immediately impressed with their unique sound and their sense of "on stage" humor, and everything steamrolled started from there. On January 24, 1962 the Beatles signed a 5 year contract for Brian to manage them.

Although this was the first time Brian had ventured into the arena of "artist management", he made his impact known early in not only their dress-code, but the attitude that they displayed on stage. It was Brian who encouraged the group to wear suits. He stopped them from smoking, swearing, drinking or eating onstage. Do you happen to remember the synchronized bow at the end of the Beatles performances? It was Brian who suggested that particular formality.

In the early years Brian made many trips to London to try and secure a recording contract for the Beatles. Unfortunately for the labels, he was rejected by many of them (i.e.: Columbia, Philips, Pye, Oriole, and Decca). The Decca audition is a particularly historical one, and we will be discussing this in another article. Eventually Brian worked his way over to EMI, and the Beatles were signed by their Parlophone label (after the group had been rejected by almost every other company). George Martin, the manager of Parlophone never even saw the Beatles play. He said that it was Brian's enthusiasm that won the deal.

As we mentioned previously, Brian died of a drug overdose on August 27, 1967. The Beatles did not attend his funeral as they wanted to give his family privacy. They felt that they would only have drawn the media and fans. Here's a bit of trivia ... Years later, in 2008, the first contract that the Beatles signed with Brian was auctioned off for 240,000 pounds ...

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