Saturday, May 09, 2009

Outtake of the Week: "In My Life" (Original Organ Solo)

This rare outtake of "In My Life" is said to originate from Lennon's home tape collection. It features the original Vox organ solo by George Martin, before he came up with the idea of playing a piano part at half-speed and then speeding up the tape to fit the song.

Next installment: May 16

Beatle People: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (January 12, 1918 – February 5, 2008), introduced the Transcendental Meditation technique and related programs and initiatives, including schools and universities with campuses in India, the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom and China.

In approximately 1939, the Maharishi became a disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, who, from 1941 to 1953, was the Shankaracharya (spiritual leader) of Jyotir Math, located in the Indian Himalayas. The Maharishi credits the Shankaracharya (Guru Dev) with inspiring his teachings.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's first global tour began in 1958, from which time his techniques and programs have been taught worldwide. He became known in the Western world in part due to interactions with The Beatles and other celebrities.

By 1990, the Maharishi had begun to coordinate his global activities from his residence in Vlodrop, the Netherlands. On January 11, 2008, he announced his retirement from all administrative activities and went into Mauna (spiritual silence). He declared: "It has been my pleasure at the feet of Guru Dev, to take the light of Guru Dev and pass it on in my environment. Now today, I am closing my designed duty to Guru Dev. And I can only say, 'Live long the world in peace, happiness, prosperity, and freedom from suffering.'”

Early life

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was born Mahesh Prasad Varma, in the Panduka area of Raipur, India, to a Hindu family living in the Central Provinces of British India (although the Allahabad University list of distinguished alumni calls him "M.C. Shrivastava"). He earned a degree in physics at Allahabad University. Place of birth given in his passport is "Pounalulla," India. The name of his father is given as Sri Ram Prasad.

According to Jay Randolph Coplin, the name "Mahesh" indicated that the Maharishi came from a Hindu family that worshipped Shiva. Cynthia Ann Humes writes that his family was of the Kayastha (scribal) caste. Contrary to some reports, caste rules allow the honorific terms "yogi" or "maharishi" to be applied to those of the Kayastha caste.

In 1941, he became a secretary to Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, who gave him the name Bal Brahmachari Mahesh. Besides indicating his family faith, Coplin says the conferred title "identified him as a dedicated student of spiritual knowledge and life-long celibate ascetic." Maharishi remained with Brahmananda Saraswati until the latter died in 1953. Although the Maharishi was a close disciple, he could not be the Shankaracharya's spiritual successor because he was not of the Brahmin caste.

In 1953, the Maharishi moved to Uttarkashi, in the Valley of the Saints, in the Himalayas, where his own master had lived in previous decades with his Master, Swami Krishanand Saraswati. In 1955, the Maharishi left Uttarkashi, and began publicly teaching what he states is a traditional meditation technique that he learned from his master, which he called Transcendental Deep Meditation. He later renamed it Transcendental Meditation. He began The Spiritual Regeneration Movement in 1957, in Madras, India, on the concluding day of the Seminar of Spiritual Luminaries. According to J. Lynwood King, the feedback Maharishi received from the diverse population that learned his technique suggested to him that it could be of wide benefit. In 1958 the Maharishi began the first of a number of worldwide tours.

Expansion of teachings

World tours

His first world tour began in Rangoon, Burma, now Myanmar. The Maharishi remained in the Far East for about six months teaching Transcendental Meditation. On December 31, 1958, the Honolulu Star Bulletin published an article about Maharishi saying: "He has no money, he asks for nothing. His worldly possessions can be carried in one hand. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is on a world odyssey. He carries a message that he says will rid the world of all unhappiness and discontent."

In 1959, the Maharishi taught the Transcendental Meditation technique in Hawaii and later went to California and became a guest in a private home owned by the Olson family. He continued to visit and teach from the Olsons' home over the next few years.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, practitioners of the technique began to be seen as part of the then current "counter-culture" phenomenon. Also during that time, a number of celebrities that included The Beatles, the Beach Boys (including singer Mike Love, who became a TM teacher) and singer-songwriter Donovan (who befriended the Maharishi and put his picture on the back cover of his A Gift from a Flower to a Garden album) learned the technique. Comedian Andy Kaufman and magician Doug Henning were also students of the Maharishi. Howard Stern also practices TM and credits the Maharishi for saving his mother from depression. Clint Eastwood and David Lynch are two notable directors who have practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique. Republican Party politician William Scranton, another student of the Maharishi, lost his 1986 bid for the Pennsylvania governorship when political consultant James Carville ran a television spot about Mr. Scranton's affiliation with the "guru." In October 1975, the Maharishi was pictured on the front cover of the US magazine Time.

Transcendental Meditation teachers

After establishing the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in the United States, the Maharishi continued his world tour. He traveled to Europe in early 1960, stopping first in London. During the next two years, he returned to India and the Far East, before revisiting the US, Europe, and Africa. He lectured about, and taught the Transcendental Meditation technique, and also established administrative centers where practitioners could meet in his absence. Eventually the more experienced practitioners were trained to become teachers of the technique. In 1961, he conducted his first international Teacher Training Course near Rishikesh, India. Over 60 meditators from India, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Britain, Malaya, Norway, the United States, Australia, Greece, Italy and the West Indies attended. Teachers continue to be trained.

Early books

In 1961, the Maharishi began to introduce additional knowledge regarding the development of human potential, including a translation and commentary on the first six chapters of the ancient Vedic text, the Bhagavad Gita. The Maharishi said that the source of his commentary was his master and the increasing interest in Vedic knowledge: "We are just an innocent means for the spontaneous flow of that knowledge -- that's all."

In his 1963 publication, the Maharishi describes the Bhagavad Gita as "the Scripture of Yoga." He says that "its purpose is to explain in theory and practice all that is needed to raise the consciousness of man to the highest possible level." In 1964, the Maharishi attended the All-India Yogic Conference held in Calcutta, India, where he said that because the teachings contained in the Bhagavad Gita were misunderstood, "the practice of yoga was misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misapplied," resulting in "weakness in the fields of thought and action."

While working on his translation and commentary of the Bhagavad Gita, the Maharishi audiotaped the text of the The Science of Being and Art of Living which was transcribed and published in 1963.

Advanced programs

Over a 30-year period the Maharishi held advanced, in-residence courses and assemblies in North America, India and/or Europe for practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation technique. These courses provided long meditation sessions, lectures by Maharishi, discussions based on personal experiences, questions from course participants, and organizational meetings. Maharishi believed that this group practice of the technique benefited the environment. In-residence courses continue to this day.

In the late 1970s, the Maharishi designed the TM-Sidhi program as an additional option for those who had been practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique for longer periods of time. According to Coplin, this new aspect of knowledge emphasized not only the individual, but also the collective benefits created by group practice of this advanced program.


Maharishi Vedic Science, or MVS, is based on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's interpretation of the ancient Vedic texts. MVS includes two aspects, practical, experiential, mental aspects - the Transcendental Meditation technique and more advanced program the TM-Sidhi Program, as well as the applications of this theory to life.

These applications include programs in: Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health (MVAH), Maharishi Sthapatya Veda, a mathematical system for the design and construction of buildings, Maharishi Gandharva Veda, a form of classical Indian music, Maharishi Jyotish (also known as Maharishi Vedic Astrology) a system claiming the evaluation of life tendencies of an individual, Maharishi Vedic Agriculture, a trademarked process for producing fresh, organic food, and Consciousness-Based Education.

Other initiatives, projects and programs

Maharishi International University (renamed Maharishi University of Management in 1995), the first university Maharishi founded, initially held classes in Santa Barbara, California, in the 1973-74 academic year. After that, the university moved to Fairfield, Iowa, where it remains today. The university houses a library of the Maharishi's taped lectures and writings that includes the 33-lesson, Science of Creative Intelligence course, originally a series of lectures given by the Maharishi in Fiuggi, Italy, in 1972. Described in the M.U.M. university catalog as combining modern science, and Vedic science, the course also describes certain higher states of consciousness, and guidance on how to attain these states.

The Maharishi also introduced theories of management, defense, and government programs said to alleviate poverty, and introduced a new development currency, Raam Mudra, toward this end. Also, in 2000, the Maharishi began building "peace palace" sites across the world, and by 2008 his movement had constructed at least eight in the US alone.

The Beatles

The Beatles met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in August 1967, studying with him in Bangor, Wales, and in early 1968 attended a TM teacher-training course in Rishikesh, India. (Much of their "White Album" was written during their stay in Rishikesh.) While Starr and McCartney left the Maharishi's camp for personal reasons, Lennon and Harrison departed after hearing a story that he had made sexual advances on Mia Farrow or other course participants. John Lennon wrote the song "Sexy Sadie" ("what have you done? You made a fool of everyone") as he was leaving, the lyrics referring to the Maharishi. "Magic" Alex Mardas had relayed the story to John and George, who felt betrayed by the Maharishi. Cynthia Lennon believed that Mardas invented a story about sexual impropriety to undermine the Maharishi's influence on the Beatles. George Harrison, years later, commented on the contretemps, saying, "Now, historically, there's the story that something went on that shouldn't have done—but nothing did." Paul McCartney, in his biography, likewise says that he does not believe the allegations and also attributes them to Mardas. Farrow's autobiography is ambiguous about the incident: she describes "panicking" and fleeing after the Maharishi put his arms around her in a dark cave, immediately after a private meditation session, and that "at my level of consciousness, if Jesus Christ Himself had embraced me, I would have misinterpreted it."

After the Maharishi's death on February 5, 2008, Sir Paul McCartney released a statement saying, "Whilst I am deeply saddened by his passing, my memories of him will only be joyful ones. He was a great man who worked tirelessly for the people of the world...." Ringo Starr released a statement saying, "One of the wise men I met in my life was the Maharishi. I always was impressed by his joy and I truly believe he knows where he is going."

On 5 February 2008, the Beatles' "Across the Universe" was beamed across the universe by NASA to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the song, the 45th anniversary of the DSN (Deep Space Network), and the 50th anniversary of NASA. A part of the lyric are the words 'Jai Guru Deva' - a Sanskrit phrase that the Maharishi had taught the Beatles, which means "Hail divine teacher."

Both Paul McCartney and Ringo Star commented on April 3, 2009, in a press conference prior to their performance in the David Lynch Foundation benefit concert ”Change Begins Within”, that Transcendental Meditation was a gift they had received from Maharishi at a time they were looking something to stabilize them. The concert, headlined by McCartney, was created to raise funds to support the teaching of one million children around the world the Transcendental Meditation technique.


On 5 February 2008 at Vlodrop, Netherlands, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi died peacefully in his sleep of natural causes. The Agni Samadhi Vedic rites were conducted on a high plateau, on the grounds of a temple the Maharishi had been in the process of building in homage to his Master, and overlooked the confluence of the Ganges in Allahabad. The funeral was carried by Sadhana TV station and was presided over by the Shankaracharya of the North, Swami Vasudevananda Saraswati Maharaj. During the military salute, the soldiers reversed arms but did not fire a salute in honor of the Maharishi's life-long dedication to the creation of world peace. (And as reported by Sadhana TV station, 11 February 2008.)

Awards and Citations

According to a publication by Maharishi European Research University, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was the recipient of awards and citations during his lifetime. Some of these are: Man of Hope award, 1970, City of Hope, California, Golden Medal of the City of Delphi, Greece, key to the City of Houston, Texas, USA, key to the City of Los Angeles, California, USA, and honorary citizenship to the City of Winnipeg, Canada. Proclamations given by governing bodies include ones given by Governor Dan Walker of Illinois, and by Members of the Parliament of India.


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is credited as the author of more than 16 books.

* Celebrating Perfection in Administration

* Celebrating Perfection in Education: Dawn of Total Knowledge

* Constitution of India fulfilled through Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation: Maharishi's Constitution of the Universe, Rk Veda--Total Natural Law that ... Meditation Documented by Scientific Research

* Enlightenment and Invincibility

* Ideal India-the Lighthouse of Peace on Earth

* Inaugurating Maharishi Vedic University

* Maharishi Forum of Natural Law and National Law for Doctors: Perfect Health for Everyone-Disease-Free Society

* Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita : A New Translation and Commentary, Chapters 1-6

* Maharishi Speaks to Educators: Mastery Over Natural Law

* Maharishi Speaks to Students: Mastery Over Natural Law

* Maharishi University of Management--Wholeness on the Move

* Maharishi Vedic University--Introduction

* Maharishi's Absolute Theory of Defence-Sovereignty in Invincibility

* Maharishi's Absolute Theory of Government-Automation in Administration

* Science of Being and Art of Living: Transcendental Meditation


Friday, May 08, 2009

Beatle People: Klaus Voormann

Klaus Voormann (born 29 April 1938) is a German artist, musician, and record producer known for his long association with the The Beatles, for whom he designed the cover of their album Revolver, as well as for being the bassist with the British Invasion group Manfred Mann and later a respected session player and record producer.

Early years

Voormann was the son of a doctor, was born and grew up in the suburbs of North Berlin as one of six brothers. The Voormann family were interested in art, classical music, and literature, with respect for history and tradition. Although Voormann had studied classical piano from eight to 15-years-old, his parents decided that instead of studying music it would be best for Klaus to study commercial art in Berlin at the "Meisterschule für Grafik und Buchgewerbe." He later moved to Hamburg to study at the "Meisterschule für Gestaltung," but before his graphic art education was finished Voormann started work as a commercial artist, graphic designer, and illustrator, spending eight months in Dusseldorf working for magazines.

It was in Hamburg that Voormann first met Astrid Kirchherr. After an argument with her and Jürgen Vollmer one day, Voormann wandered down the Reeperbahn, which is in the St.Pauli district of Hamburg, and heard music coming from the Kaiserkeller club. He walked in and watched a performance by Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, and the next group scheduled to play were The Beatles. Voormann stayed and watched both groups, and was left "speechless" by the performances. Voormann had never heard this new music called Rock 'n Roll before, having previously only listened to traditional Jazz, with some Nat King Cole and The Platters mixed in. Voormann invited Kirchherr and Vollmer to watch the performances the next day. After hearing this new music, Voormann and the other two decided that all they wanted was to listen to it, watch groups perform it, and to be as close to The Beatles as they could.

The St. Pauli district was well-known as being an area where prostitutes were to be found, and was dangerous for anyone that looked different than the usual clientele. As a trio Voormann, Kirchherr and Vollmer stood out in the Kaiserkeller—dressed in their suede coats, wool sweaters, jeans and round-toed shoes—when most of the customers had greased-back Teddy boy hairstyles and wore black leather jackets and pointed boots. During a break, Voormann tried to talk (in faltering English) to Lennon, and pressed a crumpled record sleeve he had designed into Lennon's hands. Lennon took little interest, and brushed Voormann off, suggesting that he talk to Stuart Sutcliffe, who, as Lennon said, "is the artist round here."

Sutcliffe didn't share Lennon's attitude, and was fascinated by the trio, who he thought looked like "real bohemians." He later wrote that he could hardly take his eyes off them, and had tried to talk to them during the next break, but they had already left the club. This was due to the strict German law at the time which prohibited young people from frequenting bars after 10 o'clock at night, and bars like the Kaiserkeller were dangerous for anybody that looked as different as Voormann, Kirchherr and Vollmer did when customers became drunk and aggressive.

Sutcliffe managed to meet them eventually, and learned that all three had attended the "Meisterschule für Mode," which was the Hamburg equivalent of the Liverpool art college that both Sutcliffe and Lennon had attended. Lennon dubbed the trio the Exies, as a joke about their affectation for existentialism.

Voormann was in a relationship with Kirchherr at the time, and lived just around the corner from her parents' upper-class home in the Altona district of Hamburg. Kirchherr's bedroom (which was all in black, including the walls and furniture) was decorated especially for Voormann, although after the visits to the Kaiserkeller their relationship became purely platonic. This was because Astrid started dating Sutcliffe, who was fascinated by her, although she always remained close friends with Voormann.


In the early 1960s, Voormann decided to leave Germany and move to London. George Harrison invited him to live in the Green Street flat formerly shared by all four Beatles; John Lennon and Paul McCartney having moved out to live with their respective partners (Cynthia Lennon and Jane Asher). Voorman lived with Harrison and Ringo Starr for a time before finding work as a commercial artist and renting an apartment of his own. Voormann returned to Hamburg in 1963, founded the beat band with Paddy Chambers (guitar/vocals) Voormann (bass/vocals) and Gibson Kemp (drums) called Paddy, Klaus & Gibson.

In 1966, Voormann returned to London and was asked by Lennon to design the sleeve for The Beatles' album Revolver. Klaus had a style of "scrapbook collage" art in mind, as it is later shown on the sleeve of Revolver. When showing his efforts to the band and their manager Brian Epstein, the band loved it, although Voormann's payment for the album cover was £40 pounds. Voormann later produced an updated image of Harrison for the cover of his 1988 single, "When We Was Fab," which also included the image of Harrison from the cover of Revolver. For this work, Klaus won the Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts.

Around the same time another group was about to release their international debut album. The Bee Gees had recorded their first album and Klaus was hired to design the cover of that album. The album cover featured all five group members standing above a colorful, psychedelic collage painted by Voormann.

In 1973, Voormann created the sleeve and booklet artwork for Ringo Starr's album Ringo, on which he also played bass.


In 1966, at the same time he was designing the cover of Revolver, Voormann became a member of the 1960s band Manfred Mann. Voormann played bass for the band from 1966 to 1969, appearing on all their UK hits from "Just Like a Woman" (July 1966) through to their final single "Ragamuffin Man" (April 1969). As well, he played bass and flutes on Manfred Mann's 1968 international hit "Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)" (#1 UK, #10 US).

After that, he became a session musician, playing on solo projects by Lou Reed, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Harry Nilsson and others. Voormann was a member of Lennon's Plastic Ono Band, with Yoko Ono, Alan White (future Yes drummer) and Eric Clapton, which played at the Live Peace in Toronto 1969-recorded prior to the breakup of The Beatles-in Toronto on 13 September 1969.

In 1971 he moved to Los Angeles with his second wife and his first son Otto. In an interview with EMI about his album Walls and Bridges, John Lennon was asked who was playing bass on the album. John answered with a hard German accent: "Klaus Voormann. We all know Klaus, ja (German: "yes")." He also played in Harrison's assembled band in the 1971 The Concert for Bangladesh; Harrison fittingly introduced him to the audience by saying, "There's somebody on bass who many people have heard about, but they've never actually seen him, Klaus Voormann." In the Concert for George on 29 November 2002, he played bass as part of the supporting band on the song "All Things Must Pass."

After the breakup of The Beatles, there were rumors of The Beatles reforming as The Ladders, with Voormann on bass as a replacement for Paul McCartney. An announcement to this effect filtered out of the Apple offices in 1971, but was ultimately withdrawn before it got very far. This lineup (Voormann, Lennon, Harrison and Starr) did perform in various combinations on Lennon's albums John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970) (Voormann, Lennon, and Starr) and Imagine (1971) (Voormann, Lennon & Harrison) as well as on Ringo Starr's Ringo (1973), and Yoko Ono's Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band (1970) (Voormann, Lennon, Starr, and Ono). Starr's album features the Lennon-penned hit single "I'm The Greatest" which is the only song in which all four musicians appear together, joined by Billy Preston.

In 1979 Voormann moved back to Germany. He produced three studio-albums and a live-album by the German band Trio. He also produced their worldwide hit "Da Da Da." After the 1986 breakup of Trio he produced the first solo album by their singer Stephan Remmler and played bass on some songs of the album. The following year he produced a single by former Trio drummer Peter Behrens.

Later years

Voormann retired from the music business in 1989, concentrating on his family. He lives near Munich with his second wife Christine and their two children, born in 1989 and 1991. From time to time he appears on TV shows, mainly when the shows are about the '60s in general or the Beatles in particular, or when he is asked to talk about his famous album sleeve for Revolver.

In the 1994 movie Backbeat, about the Hamburg days of the Beatles, Voormann was portrayed by the German actor Kai Wiesinger.

In 1996 Klaus was asked by Apple Records to design the covers for the Beatles Anthology albums. He painted the covers along with his friend, fellow artist Alfons Kiefer.

In April 2003, Voormann designed the cover of Scandinavian Leather for the Norwegian band Turbonegro.

In October 2003, Voormann published his autobiography, Warum spielst du Imagine nicht auf dem weißen Klavier, John? Erinnerungen an die Beatles und viele andere Freunde (Why Don't You Play "Imagine" on the White Piano, John?: Memories of the Beatles and Many Other Friends). The book gives special focus to the 1960s and 1970s, and covers Voormann's close friendship with the Beatles and other musicians and artists, as well as his private life.

A 2005 BBC documentary, Stuart Sutcliffe: The Lost Beatle features interviews with Voormann and shows drawings he made of the Beatles in Hamburg.

In 2007, Voormann designed the sleeve for the album Timeless by Wet Wet Wet.

In 2008 he recorded the song "For What It's Worth" with Eric Burdon and Max Buskohl.

Voormann will be designing and producing the artwork for the latest release by New York Psychedelic Blues band Super 400, called Sweet Fist to be released on May 19, 2009.


With Manfred Mann:

UK Albums:

* As Is
* Soul of Mann
* Up The Junction (Original Soundtrack Recording)
* What A Mann
* Mighty Garvey!

US Albums:

* Pretty Flamingo
* Up The Junction (Original Soundtrack Recording)
* Mighty Garvey!

With Plastic Ono Band:

* Live Peace in Toronto 1969
* John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
* Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band

With John Lennon:

* Wedding Album
* Imagine
* Some Time in New York City
* Walls and Bridges
* Rock 'n' Roll

With George Harrison:

* All Things Must Pass
* The Concert for Bangla Desh
* Living in the Material World
* Extra Texture (Read All About It)
* Concert for George

With Ringo Starr:

* Sentimental Journey - Arrangement on "I'm A Fool To Care"
* Ringo
* Goodnight Vienna
* Ringo's Rotogravure

Other artists:

* Transformer by Lou Reed
* No Secrets by Carly Simon


Thursday, May 07, 2009

January 5, 1970 - Tony Cox's Farmhouse, Kyum Bjerge

Taped: Monday 5 January 1970

Press conference filmed in Denmark featuring John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Anthony Cox, and Kyoko Cox.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Beatle People: Mona Best

Mona "Mo" Best, (3 January 1924 – 9 September 1988) was born in India, and is best known as the mother of Pete Best (born 1941) who was an early member of The Beatles. Mona also had two other sons, Rory (born 1944) and Vincent "Roag" Best (born 1962). It was later confirmed that Roag's father was The Beatles' associate Neil Aspinall, although he was not registered as the father on Roag's birth certificate.

After moving to Liverpool from India, the Best family claim that Mona pawned all of her jewelry in 1954, and used the money to place a 33–1 bet on a horse named "Never Say Die," and used her winnings to buy a house in 1957. Mona later opened The Casbah Coffee Club in the cellar of the house as a venue for Rock 'n' Roll music. It was planned as a members-only club for her sons and their friends. The club was often referred to as The Casbah Club, or The Casbah.

The Quarrymen—John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ken Brown—frequently played at The Casbah instead of the The Cavern Club, which had a jazz-only policy at that time. The Casbah Club cellar—with its original decoration—still exists. In 2006, the property was accorded a Grade II Heritage listing. Mona died in 1988, after a heart attack following a long illness.


Mona Shaw was born on 3 January 1924, in Delhi, India, to Thomas (a British army officer) and Mary Shaw. She was the youngest of four children; Brian, Patrick and Aileen. John Best came from a family of sports promoters in Liverpool, who once owned and ran the Liverpool Stadium. Best met Mona whilst he was a commissioned officer serving as a Physical Training Instructor in India during World War II, and was the British Army's middleweight boxing champion. Mona was training to become a doctor in the service of the Red Cross at the time. After their marriage the Bests had two children: Pete Best (b. 1941) and his younger brother, Rory Best (b. 1944)—who were born in Madras, India. In 1945, the Best family sailed for four weeks to Liverpool on the Georgic, which was the last troop ship to leave India, and carried single and married ranks who had previously been a part of General Sir William Slim's forces in south-east Asia. The ship docked in Liverpool on 25 December 1945.


Being a part of Best's family meant Mona was accorded respect on Merseyside, which included meeting well-known sports personalities of the time and receiving preferential treatment when booking a table in a restaurant, or a seat in the theatre. The Bests lived for a short time at the Best family's large home in West Derby, which was called "Ellerslie Manor," but Mona fell out with John Best's sister, Edna, who resented her brother's choice of wife. The family then moved to a small flat on Cases Street, Liverpool (above Ma Edgerton's public house) but Mona was always looking for a large house—as she had been used to in India—instead of a smaller semi-detached house, which were prevalent in the area. After moving to a three-bedroomed house in Princess Drive, Mona persuaded her parents, Thomas and Mary Shaw, to leave India and live with them in Liverpool.

After moving to 17 Queenscourt Road in 1948—where the Bests lived for nine years—Rory saw a large Victorian house for sale at 8 Hayman's Green in 1954, and told Mona about it. The Best family claim that Mona then pawned all her jewelry and placed a bet on a horse that was ridden by Lester Piggott in the 1954 Epsom Derby, called "Never Say Die," which won at 33–1, and used her winnings to buy the house in 1957. To place the bet, Mona would have had to travel more than 220 miles from Liverpool to Epsom (as bets were only allowed at race tracks at the time) or placed the bet with an illegal bookmaker in Liverpool. 8 Hayman's Green had previously been owned by the West Derby Conservative Club, and was unlike many other family houses in Liverpool, as the house (built around 1860) was set back from the road, had 15 bedrooms and an acre of land. All the rooms were painted dark green or brown, and the garden was totally overgrown. Mona decorated the living room in an Oriental style, which reflected her own upbringing in India. She had previously tried to interest her husband in other houses, including a Formby lighthouse, a windmill in St. Helens and a circular house in Southport, which were all rejected by Best as not being to his liking.

During 1961–1962, Aspinall became good friends with Pete and subsequently rented a room in the Best's house. During one of the extended business trips of Pete's father, Aspinall became romantically involved with Mona, who was 19 years his senior. During this period, Aspinall fathered a child by Mona: Vincent "Roag" Best. Roag was born in late July 1962, and just three weeks later, on 16 August 1962, Pete was dismissed from The Beatles. Roag's birth certificate was registered on 31 August 1962, stating his name to be Vincent Rogue [sic] Best, and his father as being John Best. Mona and Best separated in the early 1960s.

The Casbah Coffee Club

Mona came up with the idea of the club after watching a TV report about The 2i's Coffee Bar in London's Soho where several singers had been discovered. She decided to open The Casbah Coffee Club—which was located in her cellar—on 29 August 1959, for young people to meet and listen to the popular music of the day. Mona charged half a crown annually for membership—to "keep out the rough elements"—and served soft drinks, snacks, cakes, and coffee from an espresso machine, which no other club had at that time. The popular records of the day were played on a small Dansette record player, which amplified them through a 3" speaker.

Mona had booked the Les Stewart Quartet to play the opening night with Harrison on guitar, but they cancelled the booking after Stewart and Brown had a quarrel. Stewart was angry that Brown had missed a rehearsal, because Brown was helping Mona to decorate the club. As 300 membership cards had already been sold, Harrison said that he had two friends in a band called The Quarrymen who would play instead. Lennon, McCartney, Stuart Sutcliffe and Harrison went to the club to arrange the booking, to which Mona agreed, but said she needed to finish painting the club first. All four took up brushes and helped Mona to finish painting the walls with spiders, dragons, rainbows, stars, and a beetle, but as Lennon was short-sighted, he mistook gloss for emulsion paint, which took a long time to dry in the dark, damp cellar. Cynthia Powell, later the wife of Lennon, painted a silhouette of him on the wall, which is also still there.

The Quarrymen played a series of seven Saturday night concerts in The Casbah for 15 shillings each, starting on 29 August to October 1959, featuring Brown, Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, but without a drummer, or a PA system. The opening night concert was attended by about 300 local teenagers, but as the cellar had no air-conditioning, and people were dancing, the temperature rose until it became hard to breathe. As there was no amplification, Lennon later persuaded Mona to hire a young amateur guitar player called Harry to play a short set before The Quarrymen, but this was only so they could use his 40-Watt amplifier. After the success of the first night, Mona gave The Quarrymen a residency, and paid the whole group £3 a night. Every Saturday thereafter, queues lengthened onto the street, which was financially good for Mona, as she charged one shilling admission on top of the annual membership fee.

Pete was studying at the Collegiate Grammar School when he decided he wanted to be in a music group, so Mona bought him a drum kit from Blackler's music store and Best formed his own band; The Black Jacks. Chas Newby joined the group, as did Ken Brown, but only after he had left The Quarrymen. The reason for Brown's exit from the group was that he turned up on the seventh Saturday night of The Quarrymen residency at The Casbah with the flu, so Mona ordered him upstairs to the Best's living room to rest. This caused a massive quarrel with the rest of the group when Mona came to pay them, as they wanted Brown's money to be shared amongst the three of them, as Brown had not played. Mona refused, so The Quarrymen angrily cancelled their residency and stormed out. Colin Manley from The Remo Four was also given a booking to play in the club, which was the only venue that young amateur bands could play at the time. Other groups like The Searchers and Gerry & The Pacemakers later played in the club. The Black Jacks became the resident group at The Casbah, although The Quarrymen occasionally played there again and often visited. It was in The Casbah Club that Lennon and McCartney convinced Sutcliffe to use the prize money he had been given after winning an art competition to buy a Hofner President bass guitar and join The Quarrymen.

Even though the membership list later spiralled to over a thousand, Mona closed the club on 24 June 1962, with The Beatles as the last group to perform. In 2006, the Best's ex-coal cellar was given a "Grade II listed building status," after being recommended by English Heritage. It has now been opened as a tourist attraction in Liverpool, along with McCartney and Lennon's previous homes.

The Beatles

When Pete became a member of The Beatles, Mona repeatedly tried to get the group a lunchtime residency in The Cavern Club by talking to the owner, Ray McFall, but was turned down, as The Cavern had a jazz-only policy at the time. Brian Epstein later wanted to manage the group, and Mona was asked for her advice, and although she had her own plans for the group, she concluded that Epstein would be good for them over time. After The Beatles signed a management contract with Epstein, Mona did not relinquish her control over them, as they had been using her telephone to call agents, and frequently slept over in her living room between concerts. She constantly harassed Epstein about the quality of their bookings, and his management of them, which led to Epstein never referring to her by name, but always calling her "that woman." One musician commented that if Mona said it was a Sunday when it was Tuesday, one would be forced to agree with her.

After Best, McCartney and Harrison were deported from Hamburg in November 1960, Mona made numerous phone calls to Hamburg to recover the group's equipment, which she eventually managed to do. Mona wrote to Granada Television in 1961, in an attempt to get the group a television appearance on the programme called "People And Places," but was sent a letter telling her that they would contact her in the future. After her son had been dismissed from The Beatles on 16 August 1962, Mona was later quoted by biographer Hunter Davies as saying: “He'd [Pete] been their manager before Brian [Epstein] arrived, did the bookings and collected the money. I'd looked upon them as friends. I'd helped them so much, got them bookings, lending them money. I fed them when they were hungry. I was far more interested in them than their own parents.”

Later years

In 1967, when The Beatles had to pose for the photograph for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover, Lennon asked Mona if he could borrow the war medals her father had been given in India to wear for the photo session. Although still upset at the way her son was dismissed from The Beatles, Mona agreed, and the medals were then returned, along with a Cash Box trophy that is in the letter 'L' of THE BEATLES flower-sign on the cover. Mona never opened another club, or engaged in another business venture, although she did have paying guests at her house, which she shared with her bed-ridden mother and her sons after she and Best parted. Mona died of a heart attack 9 September 1988, after a long illness.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Beatle People: Neil Aspinall

Neil Aspinall (13 October 1941 — 24 March 2008) was a British music industry executive. A childhood friend of Paul McCartney and George Harrison, he went on to head The Beatles' company Apple Corps.

The Beatles employed Aspinall as their road manager and personal assistant, which included driving his old Commer van to and from shows, both day and night. After Mal Evans started work for The Beatles, Aspinall was promoted to become their personal assistant, later becoming chief executive of their company, Apple Corps.

On behalf of Apple, Aspinall was involved in notable court cases against Allen Klein, EMI and Apple Computer. He supervised the marketing of music, videos, and merchandising, as well being a director of Standby Films, which was run from his home in Twickenham, Greater London. On 10 April 2007, Aspinall left Apple Corps. Aspinall died of lung cancer in New York City in 2008.

Early life

Aspinall was born in Prestatyn, North Wales, after his mother had been evacuated from the family home in Liverpool (because of the air-raids on Liverpool during World War II) while Aspinall's father was away at sea with the Royal Navy. Aspinall and his mother returned to Liverpool later in 1942 after the bombing had subsided. Aspinall later attended West Derby School, where he passed his 11-plus exams. When he was 12 years old, Aspinall gained a place at the Liverpool Institute in Mount Street, and was in the same class as Paul McCartney for English and Art lessons.

Aspinall later commented about his first meeting with George Harrison, who also attended the Liverpool Institute: "My first encounter with George was behind the school’s air-raid shelters. This great mass of shaggy hair loomed up and an out-of-breath voice requested a quick drag of my Woodbine. It was one of the first cigarettes either of us had smoked. We spluttered our way through it bravely but gleefully. After that the three of us did lots of ridiculous things together... By the time we were ready to take the GCE exams we added John Lennon to our 'Mad Lad' gang. He was doing his first term at Liverpool College of Art which overlooks the Liverpool Institute playground and we all got together in a students coffee bar at lunchtime." Aspinall took nine GCEs at the Institute, and passed eight of them, only failing the French exam. He left school in July 1959, and studied accountancy. Aspinall worked for a Liverpool company for two years, receiving a wage of £2.50 per week as a trainee accountant.

The Beatles

The Beatles played at the opening of The Casbah Coffee Club on 29 August 1959, which was in the cellar of Mona Best's house. Aspinall later rented a room in the house and became very good friends with then-Beatle Pete Best. The Beatles had previously used public transport to get to local gigs, but by February 1961, they were playing two or three concerts per night at different locations and needed someone to drive them. Best asked Aspinall to be a part-time road manager for the band, so Aspinall bought an "old, grey and maroon Commer van" for 80 pounds, and charged each of the group five shillings per concert. The Beatles returned from their second trip to Hamburg in July 1962, and Aspinall left his job to become their permanent road manager, as he was earning more money driving them around than he was earning by being an accountant.

The Beatles were driven down to London by Aspinall on New Year's Eve in 1961, for the now-famous Decca audition, but Aspinall lost his way, and the trip took ten hours. They arrived at 10 o'clock at night, and John Lennon said that they arrived "just in time to see the drunks jumping in the Trafalgar Square fountain." In 1963, he was joined by Mal Evans, who also helped set up The Beatles' equipment (and acted as a bodyguard) which freed Aspinall to concentrate on other duties, like arranging appointments or buying things for them, such as suits, boots, meals, or drinks. When Best was sacked by The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein, Aspinall was waiting downstairs in Epstein's NEMS record shop, and was the first one to talk to the (then) ex-Beatle in The Grapes pub, across from The Cavern. Aspinall was furious and said that he would stop working for the band as well, but Best strongly advised him not to. Aspinall decided to stay, but ended his relationship with Best's mother (an affair that had led to the birth of baby Vincent "Roag" Best). Aspinall asked McCartney and Lennon at the next concert why they had fired Best and was told, "It’s got nothing to do with you. You’re only the driver." Aspinall worked closely with Epstein, who provided weekly notes for Aspinall to give to the group's stage act, their concert appearances, and the fees they would receive. The Beatles had to travel in Aspinall's van along with their equipment, but British roads in the early 1960s were notoriously pot-holed and slow to navigate. Ringo Starr remembered that the traveling never seemed to stop during the early tours of Britain in Aspinall's van, as they would be driven up and down Great Britain with one of the group in the passenger seat, but with the other three on a hard bench seat in the back.

Personal assistant

Aspinall's job as personal assistant consisted of driving to concerts and meetings, but mostly meant just being there whenever someone needed something. Aspinall went on the first trip to America, and when George Harrison became ill with a fever and had a temperature of 102 °F (39 °C), he was ordered to stay in bed, so Aspinall replaced him for the Ed Sullivan Show camera rehearsals. Before the cover of Sgt. Pepper's could be completed by Peter Blake, Aspinall was sent out to find photographs of all of the people that were to be shown on the front cover. Aspinall suggested the idea of Sergeant Pepper being the compere, who would introduce the group, and the reprise of the title song near the end of the album.

After recording sessions, Lennon, Harrison, and Starr would be chauffeured back to their houses in the 'stockbroker belt' of southern England, but Aspinall would often drive McCartney and Evans in an Austin Princess limousine to a late-night club to eat. The Bag O'Nails nightclub was one of their favourites, at 8 Kingly Street in Soho, London, as it also presented live music. They would eat steak, chips, and mushy peas, but Aspinall would always take out a torch from his pocket (in the dimly lit club) to inspect the portions on each of their plates. This was to make sure that the portions were exactly as they had ordered, which McCartney always found amusing.

Musical contributions

Although not a musician, Aspinall made minor contributions to a handful of The Beatles' recordings. He played a tamboura on "Within You Without You," harmonica on "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!," some percussion on "Magical Mystery Tour," and was among the many participants singing on the chorus of "Yellow Submarine."


Following the death of Epstein in August 1967, there was a vacuum in the management of The Beatles' affairs. The Beatles asked Aspinall to take over the management of Apple Corps in 1968, which had been founded in April of the same year. Aspinall later said that he only accepted the position after being asked, but did not want to do it full-time, and would only do it "until they found somebody else." George Martin (The Beatles' record producer) was against the idea, as he thought that Aspinall did not have the necessary social qualifications to be able to speak to the upper-class executives at EMI. Aspinall accompanied McCartney and Lennon to New York on 11 May 1968, to announce the formation of Apple to the American Media. Apple Corps had five divisions: electronics, film, publishing, records, and retailing. Aspinall later spoke of The Beatles' business arrangements:
“We did not have one single piece of paper. No contracts. The lawyer, the accountants and Brian, whoever, had that. The Beatles had been given copies of various contracts, maybe, I don't know. I didn't know what the [recording] contract was with EMI, or with the film people or the publishers or anything at all. So it was a case of building up a filing system, find out what was going on while we were trying to continue doing something.”
Derek Taylor (Apple's press officer) said that Aspinall hated being stuck in the Apple office (at 3 Savile Row) all through the recording of The White Album and Let It Be album. Although life in the Apple office was improved by having a chef and various assistants at hand: "The liquor bill was £600 per month and the food bill was close to that." This was mostly due to Aspinall's and Peter Brown's four-course lunches with expensive wines in the dining room at Apple. After Allen Klein was brought in to be The Beatles' manager Aspinall was dismissed, but reinstated after complaints from the group, and because Klein realized that Aspinall was no threat to his control of the company. Klein lost a High Court action in 1971 (started by McCartney) but lawsuits between Klein and Apple kept Aspinall busy until 1977.

Apple Corps Executive

In 1978, Aspinall instigated the first of three lawsuits on behalf of Apple Corps against Apple Computer, Inc. (now known as Apple, Inc.) for trademark infringement. The first suit settled in 1981 with an amount of £41,000 being paid to Apple by Apple Computer. As a condition of the settlement, Apple Computer was allowed to use its logo as long as it did not enter the music business. The second suit with Apple Computer arose in 1989, when Apple Corps sued Apple Computer over its Apple IIGS (which included a professional synthesizer chip) claiming violation of the 1981 settlement agreement. In 1991, a settlement of £13.5 million was reached. McCartney praised Aspinall for trademarking the Apple name worldwide, and called Aspinall "Mr. X" in the Apple Corps organization.

In September 2003, Apple Computer, Inc. was again sued by Apple Corps, this time for the introduction of the iTunes Music Store and the iPod, which Aspinall and Apple Corps believed was a violation of the previous agreement for Apple Computer to not distribute music. The trial began on 27 March 2006 in the UK, and ended on 8 May 2006 in a victory for Apple Computer; the judge ruled the company's iTunes Music Store did not infringe on the trademark of Apple Corps. Aspinall was also involved in several court cases in which Apple Corps took action against EMI:
“We have tried to reach a settlement through good faith negotiations and regret that our efforts have been in vain. Despite very clear provisions in our contracts, EMI persist in ignoring their obligations and duty to account fairly and with transparency. The Beatles and Apple are, once again, left with no choice but to sue EMI.”
In the early 1990s, Aspinall became the executive producer for The Beatles Anthology. He continued to advise the surviving Beatles, as well as Lennon's and Harrison's estates, and to supervise the marketing of music, music videos, and merchandising. On 10 April 2007, it was announced by Apple that Aspinall had "decided to move on" and Jeff Jones—a longtime VP at Sony Legacy—was hired as CEO to oversee the back-catalogue. One of Aspinall's final tasks at Apple was to oversee the remastering of The Beatles' back-catalogue for an anticipated 2009 release.

Personal life and death

During 1961-1962, Aspinall had become good friends with Best and subsequently rented a room in the house where Best lived with his parents. During one of the extended business trips of Best's father, the 19-year-old Aspinall became romantically involved with Pete Best's mother, Mona Best, who was 17 years his senior. During this period, Aspinall fathered a child by Mona: Vincent "Roag" Best. Roag Best was born in late July 1962, and just three weeks later, on 16 August 1962, Best was dismissed from the Beatles.

On 30 August 1968, Aspinall married Suzy Ornstein at the Chelsea Register office, London, with "Magic Alex" Mardas as best man. McCartney, Starr and his wife attended, and were also at a surprise party held later in the King's Road, London. Suzy Aspinall is the daughter of Bud Ornstein, the chief executive of United Artists Pictures (UK). Aspinall met her during 1964/1965, when her father was the United Artists representative overseeing the production of the first two Beatles' films: A Hard Day's Night and Help!. They went on to have four children: daughters Gayla, Dhara and Mandy; and son Julian. As well as his work for Apple Corps, Aspinall and his wife were the sole directors of their own Standby Films Ltd. company, which is run from their home in Twickenham, Greater London. In 1999, Standby Films released a film about Jimi Hendrix, called Hendrix: Band of Gypsys.

Aspinall died of lung cancer in New York City in 2008. His funeral was at the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Twickenham. Stella McCartney, Yoko Ono, Barbara Bach (wife of Starr) George Martin, Pete Best, and Pete Townshend attended the funeral, with Townshend playing Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" as a tribute. The private service was followed by Aspinall's burial at Teddington Cemetery. A documentary on the making of Cirque du Soleil's Love entitled All Together Now was released on 20 October 2008 in memory of Aspinall. Aspinall left a sum of nearly £7m in his will in a trust, with the income going to Suzy, his wife of 40 years. After her death it will then be inherited by his five children: Roag, Gayla, Dhara, Julian and Mandy Aspinall.


Monday, May 04, 2009

December 9, 1974 - Monday Night Football

Taped: Monday 9 December 1974
Aired: Monday 9 December 1974

Once again, John appears unannounced, this time following Ronald Reagan on the ABC TV sports programme Monday Night Football, where he is briefly interviewed by the host Howard Cosell during the intermission in a game between the Los Angeles Rams and the LA Redskins at the Los Angeles Coliseum. John tells the viewing public what he thinks of the American professional football scene: "It's an amazing event and sight," he announces. "It makes rock concerts look like tea parties." John also reveals that when he arrived at the stadium, the first thing he heard being played was The Beatles' tune "Yesterday" which "cheered me up no end!" Of course, no interview will be complete without the perennial question, this time from Cosell: "Will The Beatles ever reunite?" John replies by saying: "You never know, you never know. I mean, it's always in the wind. If it looked like this (referring to the stadium and crowd), it might be worth doing, right?" John finishes off by plugging his own album Walls And Bridges and Ringo's latest Goodnight Vienna and then returns to watch the game.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Beatle People: Brian Epstein

Brian Samuel Epstein (19 September 1934 – 27 August 1967) was a British music entrepreneur, and the manager of The Beatles. Through his family's company, NEMS (North End Music Stores) he also managed several other musical artists such as Gerry & The Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Cilla Black and The Remo Four.

The Beatles recorded a demo in Decca's studios — paid for by Epstein — which he later persuaded George Martin to listen to, as Decca were not interested in signing the band. Epstein was then offered a contract (after Martin had auditioned the group) by EMI's small Parlophone label, even though they had previously been rejected by almost every other British record company.

Epstein died of an accidental drug overdose at his home in London in August 1967. The Beatles' early success has been attributed to Epstein's management and sense of style. Paul McCartney said of Epstein: "If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian."

Early life

Epstein was born into a Jewish family in Rodney Street, Liverpool, England. Epstein's grandfather, Isaac Epstein, was from Hodan, Lithuania (which was part of Russia at that time) and arrived in England in the 1890s, at the age of eighteen. His grandmother, Dinah, was the daughter of Joseph (whose occupation was draper) and Esther Hyman, who emigrated from Russia to England (circa 1871/72) with their eldest son, Jacob. The Hymans had six more children.

Isaac Epstein married Dinah Hyman in Manchester in 1900. In 1901, Isaac and Dinah were living at 80 Walton Road, Liverpool, with Isaac's sister, Rachael Epstein, above the furniture dealership he had recently founded. Dinah and Isaac's third son was Harry Epstein; the father of Brian Epstein. After Harry and his brother Leslie had joined the family firm, Isaac Epstein founded "I. Epstein and Sons", and enlarged his furniture business by taking over adjacent shops (62/72 Walton Road) to sell a varied range of other goods, such as musical instruments and household appliances. They called the expanding business NEMS (North End Music Stores) which offered lenient credit terms, and from which McCartney's father once bought a piano.

Epstein's mother was formally named Malka (although always known by her family as Queenie, Malka translating as "queen" in Hebrew) and was a member of the Hyman furniture family, which owned the successful Sheffield Veneering Company. Harry and Queenie also had another son, Clive, who was born 22 months after Epstein's birth. During WWII, the Epsteins moved to Southport — where two schools expelled Epstein for laziness and poor performance — but returned to Liverpool in 1945. The Epsteins lived at 197 Queens Drive, Childwall, in Liverpool, and stayed there for 30 years. After his parents had moved him from one boarding school to another, the 14-year-old Epstein spent two years at Wrekin College in Shropshire. Shortly before his sixteenth birthday, he sent a long letter to his father, explaining that he wanted to become a dress designer, but Harry Epstein was adamantly opposed to this idea, and his son finally had to "report for duty" at the family's furniture shop. On a £5 per week wage, selling furniture was not what Epstein wanted, but he was congratulated by his family on the first day of work after selling a £12 dining room table to a woman who originally wanted to buy a mirror.

In December 1951, Epstein was drafted as a clerk into the Royal Army Service Corps, and was posted to the Albany Street Barracks near Regent's Park, in London, where he was often reprimanded for not picking up his army pay. After returning to Liverpool Epstein was put in charge of Clarendon Furnishing shop in Hoylake, and in 1955 was made a director of NEMS. In September 1956, he took a trip to London to meet a friend, but after being there for only one day, he was robbed of his passport, birth certificate, chequebook, wristwatch, and all the money he had on him. As he did not want his parents to find out, he worked as department store clerk until he had earned enough money to buy a train ticket back to Liverpool. Back in Liverpool, he confessed his homosexuality to a psychiatrist — a friend of the Epstein family — who suggested to Harry Epstein that his son should leave Liverpool as soon as possible. During the sessions Epstein revealed his ambition of becoming an actor, so his parents allowed him go to London to study. Epstein attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. His RADA classmates included actors Susannah York, Albert Finney and Peter O'Toole, but Epstein dropped out after the third term. Back in Liverpool, Harry Epstein put his son in charge of the record department of the newly-opened NEMS music store on Great Charlotte Street. Epstein worked "day and night" at the store to make it a success, and it became one of the biggest musical retail outlets in the North of England. The Epsteins opened a second store at 12-14 Whitechapel, and Epstein was put in charge of the entire operation. Epstein often walked across the road to the Lewis's department store (which also had a music section) where Peter Brown was employed. He watched Brown's sales technique and was impressed enough to lure Brown to work for NEMS with the offer of a higher salary and a commission on sales. On 3 August 1961, Epstein started a regular music column in the Mersey Beat magazine, called, 'Record Releases, by Brian Epstein of NEMS.'

The Beatles

The Beatles' name was supposedly first noticed by Epstein in issues of Mersey Beat, and on numerous posters around Liverpool, before he asked Bill Harry who they were, as Harry had previously convinced Epstein to sell the magazine at NEMS. (The Beatles were featured on the front page of its second issue). The Beatles had recorded the "My Bonnie" single with Tony Sheridan in Germany, and some months after its release Epstein asked Alistair Taylor about it in NEMS. Epstein's version of the story was that a customer, Raymond Jones, walked into the NEMS shop and asked Epstein for the "My Bonnie" single, which made Epstein curious about the group. Taylor later claimed that he used the name of Jones (a regular customer) to order the single and paid the deposit himself, knowing that Epstein would notice it, and order further copies.

The Beatles were due to perform a lunchtime concert in the Cavern Club on 9 November 1961. Epstein asked Bill Harry to arrange for Epstein and his assistant Taylor to watch The Beatles perform, and Epstein and Taylor were allowed into the club without queuing, with a welcome message being announced over the club's public-address system by Bob Wooler, who was the resident DJ. Epstein later talked about the performance:
“I was immediately struck by their music, their beat, and their sense of humor on stage — and, even afterwards, when I met them, I was struck again by their personal charm. And it was there that, really, it all started.”
After the performance, Epstein and Taylor went into the dressing room — which he later called "as big as a broom cupboard" — to talk to them. The Beatles, all regular NEMS customers, immediately recognized Epstein, but before Epstein could congratulate them on their performance, George Harrison said, "And what brings Mr. Epstein here?"

The Beatles played at the Cavern over the next three weeks, and Epstein was always there to watch them. Epstein contacted their previous manager, Allan Williams, to confirm that Williams no longer had any ties to them, but Williams advised Epstein "not to touch them with a barge pole." In a meeting with the group at NEMS on 10 December 1961, he proposed the idea of managing them. The Beatles signed a five-year contract with Epstein on 24 January 1962. Epstein had told his mother and father that managing The Beatles was only a part-time occupation, and would never interfere with the family business.

Although Epstein had had no prior experience of artist management, he had a strong influence on their early dress-code and attitude on stage. When Epstein discovered the band, they wore blue jeans and leather jackets, performing at rowdy rock 'n' roll shows where they would stop and start songs when they felt like it, or when an audience member requested a certain song. Epstein encouraged them to wear suits and ties, insisted that they stop swearing, smoking, drinking or eating onstage, and also suggested the famous synchronized bow at the end of their performances. McCartney was the first to agree with Epstein's ideas, believing it was—in part—due to Epstein's RADA training. Lennon was against the idea of suits and ties, but later said, "Yeah, man, all right, I'll wear a suit. I'll wear a bloody balloon if somebody's going to pay me."

Epstein made numerous trips to London to visit record companies with the hope of securing a record contract, but was rejected by many, including Columbia, Pye, Philips, Oriole, and most famously, Decca. The Beatles later found out that Epstein had paid Decca producer Tony Meehan (ex-drummer of the Shadows) to produce the studio recordings. While Epstein was negotiating with Decca, he also approached EMI marketing executive Ron White, who later contacted EMI producers Norrie Paramor, Walter Ridley, and Norman Newell, but they all declined to record the group. White could not contact EMI's fourth staff producer (George Martin) as he was on holiday.

On 8 February 1962, Epstein visited a HMV store in Oxford Street, London, to have the Decca audition tape transferred to disc. A HMV technician named Jim Foy liked the recordings, and suggested that Epstein should contact Parlophone's George Martin. The Beatles were signed by EMI's small Parlophone label after the group had been rejected by almost every other British record company, and without Martin ever having seen them play live. Martin later explained that Epstein's enthusiasm, and his conviction that The Beatles would one day become internationally famous, convinced him to sign them.

Martin scheduled an audition at Abbey Road Studios which convinced Martin that they were good enough, but with one exception: He felt the recording would be better served by an experienced session drummer in place of Pete Best. When the news came that Martin wanted to replace Best on their recordings with a session drummer, John Lennon, McCartney and Harrison asked Epstein to fire Best from the band. Epstein agonized about the decision, and asked Bob Wooler if it was a good idea, to which Wooler replied that Best was very popular with the fans and they wouldn't like it at all. Ringo Starr took his place, as Starr had previously played with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, and had previously stepped in to drum with them when Best was ill or unable to play.

The Beatles toured the Philippines in July 1966, but Epstein unintentionally snubbed the nation's first lady, Imelda Marcos, when presented with an invitation to a breakfast party. Epstein politely declined on behalf of the group, as it had been their policy never to accept such official invitations. The Beatles and their entourage were ejected from their hotel the same day and were given a police escort to the airport. They boarded the plane to fly home, but Epstein and Mal Evans were ordered off, with both believing they would not be allowed back on the plane. Epstein was forced to give back most of the money that they had earned in the Philippines before being allowed back on the plane.

After Candlestick Park

The Beatles' hectic schedule of touring, television, and film work between 1963-65 kept Epstein very busy. The Beatles' last live concert was at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California on 29 August 1966, and Epstein's management duties changed to reflect the changing nature of their career. He wanted them to continue touring, but they adamantly refused. The Beatles started to pay less attention to Epstein's advice on many issues after they stopped touring, such as the legally risky cover art of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Epstein later brought Robert Stigwood into the NEMS organization, and wanted to sell the control of NEMS to him, but didn't tell any of the group about his decision.

Before Epstein's death, McCartney had been taking a much more active interest in NEMS' finances, and the group was becoming aware that some artists with more ruthless managers — such as the Rolling Stones under Allen Klein — claimed to be receiving more commercially advantageous terms. After Epstein's death, Stigwood wanted to take over the management of NEMS, but Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr all vehemently opposed him, with Lennon saying, "We don't know you. Why would we do this?"

Business dealings

McCartney admitted that they signed all the contracts Epstein presented to them without reading them first, but when Lennon was asked for a comment about Epstein's business dealings after Epstein’s death, he said, "Well, he was alright. I've found out since, of course, that he wasn't quite as honest to us as he made out." Many other interviews with Lennon report him as being very loyal to Epstein, however, even saying, "We had complete faith in him when he was running us. To us, he was the expert."

The Beatles all signed Epstein's first management contract, but Epstein did not sign it himself, thereby giving himself the option of withdrawing at any time, although he told his assistant Taylor the opposite by saying, "Well, if they ever want to tear it up, they can hold me but I can't hold them." The contract was not legally binding on McCartney and Harrison in any case, as they were both still minors (the age of majority at that time was 21) and lacked the legal capacity to sign a binding contract. The contract stated that Epstein would receive a management commission of 25 percent of their gross income after a certain threshold had been reached. The Beatles argued for a smaller percentage, but Epstein pointed out that he had been paying their expenses for months, without receiving anything in return. Epstein once offered the individual Beatles a fixed wage of £50-a-week for life, instead of receiving money from record sales. Harrison commented that he was earning £25 a week at the time, which was more than the £10 a week his father was earning, but the group as a whole declined Epstein's offer, as they thought that they were worth much more than £50-a-week. After the release of "Love Me Do" in 1962, Epstein signed a second (and legally binding) contract.

The Beatles' recording contract that EMI offered Epstein gave them one penny for each record sold, which was split among the four members, meaning one farthing per group member. The royalty rate was further reduced for singles sold outside the UK, on which the group received half of one penny (again split between the whole band) per single. Martin said later that EMI had "nothing to lose" by signing a contract with them.

The Beatles' concerts were booked by Epstein himself, and he also presented groups managed by NEMS as an opening act, thereby making money for NEMS as the promoter, booking agent, and manager for all the concerts. The Beatles were constantly in demand by concert promoters, and Epstein took advantage of the situation to avoid paying some taxes by accepting "hidden" fees on the night of a performance, which he always kept in a brown paper bag. Epstein also successfully managed Gerry & the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (who had three hits with Lennon-McCartney songs) the Fourmost (their first two singles were written by Lennon) the Cyrkle (Epstein's first American group) and Cilla Black (who was Epstein's only female artist) as well as other artists.

During the first Beatles' flight to America Epstein was offered numerous samples of products by merchandisers — who required a license from Epstein to be allowed to sell them — including clocks, pens, cigarette lighters, plastic wigs, bracelets, and games, but Epstein rejected all of them. David Jacobs, the lawyer for NEMS, had already given away 90 percent of merchandising rights to Nicky Byrne in England, which later turned out to be a financial disaster, as that left only 10 percent for Epstein, NEMS and The Beatles. Byrne took over Epstein's Stramsact merchandising in the UK and set up Seltaeb (Beatles spelled backwards) in the USA. While The Beatles were ensconced in the Plaza hotel in New York, Epstein was further besieged by calls and visits from merchandisers, promoters, television commentators, and hustlers—all demanding to talk to him. Mindful of the number of records the group were selling in America, Capitol records sent a well-spoken Yorkshire girl, Wendy Hanson, to the Plaza hotel to act as Epstein's secretary, and to filter his calls. Hanson later worked solely with Epstein in his Albemarle Street office, which was separate from the NEMS office.

Epstein asked chartered accountant James Trevor Isherwood to set up a company to collect Lennon and McCartney's PRS payments — called Lenmac — which he did on 12 May 1964. When he first visited Epstein's office, Isherwood was surprised to learn that Epstein took 25 percent of the gross income, and not what he thought was the usual 10 percent that other managers received at that time. All of Epstein's expenses were also deducted from any of his artists gross income, which meant office rental, staff wages, travel, telephone costs, and entertaining expenses. Before his death, Epstein knew that the renegotiation of his management contract (up for renewal on 30 September 1967) would reduce his management fee from 25 percent to 10 percent, and would also mean a larger drop in NEMS income, as The Beatles' concert fees would be taken out of the equation.

The Beatles entered into a publishing agreement with Dick James Music (DJM) who set up a company called Northern Songs. Epstein agreed that James should receive 25 per cent of the shares, and Charles Silver, his financial partner and accountant, should also receive 25 percent. Lennon and McCartney received 20 percent each, and Epstein held the remaining 10 percent. The Beatles PRS income increased rapidly, and Epstein asked Isherwood to work out a way of avoiding the tax that Lennon and McCartney would have to pay. Isherwood suggested a Stock-market flotation for Northern Songs, and further advised Epstein that Lennon and McCartney should move to houses near his [Isherwood's] in Esher during the flotation, which Lennon, Harrison, and Starr did. Only Epstein and McCartney remained in London.

After moving to London, Epstein rented an office in Monmouth Stree in 1965, and later leased the Saville Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue. He promoted new works by writers such as Arnold Wesker in productions that occasionally fell afoul of the Lord Chamberlain by including "obscene" content or nudity. Epstein changed the program to that of a music venue in 1966, presenting various U.S. acts. Epstein was asked to appear on several music-based TV programs in Britain after the success of The Beatles, and also hosted a regular part of the US TV show Hullabaloo, by filming his appearances in the UK. Lennon later said: "On the business end he [Epstein] ripped us off on the Seltaeb thing." McCartney said years later: "He [Epstein] looked to his dad for business advice, and his dad knew how to run a furniture store in Liverpool."

Personal life

Throughout Epstein's life he was known to be kind and caring to his family, friends of his family, and business colleagues. When Lennon married Cynthia Powell, on 23 August 1962, Epstein attended the wedding as the best man and paid for their celebration lunch afterwards. During Cynthia's pregnancy, Epstein paid for a private room in a hospital and offered the Lennons the sole use of his flat on Falkner Street when they needed somewhere to live. He also agreed to be the godfather Lennon's son Julian.

Sexual orientation

Epstein's homosexuality was not publicly known until years after his death, although it was an open secret among his friends and business associates. While Epstein was in the Army, he had a tailor make an officer's uniform for him that he wore when cruising the bars of London, but was arrested one night (for impersonating an officer) at the Army and Navy Club on Piccadilly by the Military Police. Epstein managed to avoid a court martial by agreeing to see an army psychiatrist, who uncovered Epstein's sexuality. He was discharged from the army after 10 months on the medical grounds of being "emotionally and mentally unfit", although Epstein later stated that his first homosexual experience was after he returned to Liverpool.

While Epstein was studying acting at RADA, he was arrested for "persistent importuning", and was later blackmailed by an ex-Guardsman, Billy Connolly. Throughout the later court case against Connolly, Epstein was referred to as "Mr. X", as the law allowed anonymity at that time. After Epstein started to manage The Beatles, McCartney said that they (The Beatles and their friends) knew that Epstein was homosexual, but did not care, because Epstein encouraged them professionally and offered them access to previously off-limits social circles. Although Lennon often made sarcastic comments about Epstein's homosexuality to friends and to Epstein personally, nobody outside their closed circle was allowed to comment on it. Ian Sharp, one of Lennon's art school friends, once made a sarcastic remark about Epstein, saying, "Which one of you [The Beatles] does he fancy?" Sharp was sent a letter by Epstein's office within 48 hours that demanded a complete apology. Sharp apologized but was then completely ostracized, and was told by McCartney in a letter to have no contact at all with any of them in the future. Epstein used to go on holiday to places such as Amsterdam and Barcelona, or Manchester at weekends, as the attitude to homosexuals was not as unforgiving as in Liverpool, although there were several gay bars in Liverpool, such as the Magic Clock, which was opposite the Royal Court Theatre. The male waiters there used female singers' names and dressed in wigs, skirts, and wore makeup.

In his biography, Pete Best claims that Epstein drove them both to Blackpool one evening, and Epstein declared to Best his "very fond admiration" for him. Epstein is then supposed to have said, "Would you find it embarrassing if I ask you to stay in a hotel overnight?" Best replied that he was not interested, and the two never mentioned it again. There were rumors of a brief sexual encounter between Lennon and Epstein when they both went on a four-day holiday together to Barcelona in April 1963. Lennon always denied the claims, telling Playboy in 1980: "It was never consummated, but we had a pretty intense relationship." Lennon's first wife Cynthia also maintains that Lennon's relationship with Epstein was platonic. A fictionalized account of the Spanish holiday was portrayed in the 1991 film The Hours and Times. Lennon's friend and confidant, Peter Shotton, claimed in his book, The Beatles, Lennon and Me, that under provocation from Epstein, Lennon did partly give in: "I let him toss me off, and that was it." Biographer Hunter Davies also recalled Lennon telling him he had consented to an encounter "to see what it was like". Writer Albert Goldman expanded on both claims in his The Lives of John Lennon, alleging a longtime affair between the two men. It is rumored Lennon later wrote "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" about Epstein.

Epstein's strongest relationship with a woman was with singer Alma Cogan, who was also Jewish and a part of the old-fashioned world of show business. Epstein always bought her presents when he was abroad, and even took her to Liverpool to meet his parents. Despite Epstein's preference for male company, some of his friends believed they would eventually get married. Cogan died of ovarian cancer on 26 October 1966, aged 34.

In October 1964, Epstein's autobiography, A Cellarful of Noise, was published in the UK and later in the U.S. It was co-written by journalist Derek Taylor, who had served as Epstein's assistant that year, then later as the publicist for NEMS from 1968-1970. (Lennon reportedly once quipped that the memoir should have been titled A Cellarful of Boys). Male homosexual relations were illegal throughout the UK until September 1967 (only one month after Epstein's death) when gay sex was legalised in England and Wales (remaining illegal in Scotland and Northern Ireland until 1980 and 1982, respectively).

Drug use

After the start of his management career, Epstein started taking stimulants — usually Preludin, which was legal at that time — which Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr also took and had previously taken in Hamburg. He explained his use of the drug as the only way of staying awake at night during numerous concert tours. In 1964, Brown started to notice that Epstein was taking too many pills, because Epstein often had a cough at parties, which Brown knew was Epstein's way of secretly putting pills into his mouth without anyone noticing. McCartney often met Epstein at late-night clubs in London, and remembered that Epstein would often grind his jaws, once saying, "Ugghhh, the pills..." to McCartney.

In 1964, after having been introduced to cannabis by Bob Dylan in New York, McCartney remembered Epstein standing in front of a mirror, pointing at himself and repeatedly saying "Jew!", and laughing loudly, which McCartney found hilarious and "very liberating." Epstein later became heavily involved in the 1960s drug scene, and during the four months when the Sgt. Pepper album was being recorded, Epstein spent his time on holiday, or at the Priory Clinic in Putney, where he tried unsuccessfully to curb his drug use. He left the Priory for the party to launch Sgt. Pepper to selected journalists at his house at 24 Chapel Street, but went straight back to the Priory afterwards. After McCartney's admission, on 19 June 1967, of his use of LSD, Epstein defended McCartney to the media, admitting that he had also taken it himself.


The Beatles and Epstein visited Elvis Presley at Graceland, where Colonel Tom Parker and Joe Esposito set up a roulette wheel and several packs of playing cards. Epstein immediately wanted to play, as he was known for his love of gambling for high-stakes. McCartney frequently visited gambling clubs in London, such as the "Curzon House" (which was Epstein's favourite club) and often saw Epstein gambling there. He once saw Epstein put a Dunhill lighter on the table that was worth £100 (worth approximately £1,300 GBP, or $2,500 USD in today's money), and then lose it during a game of cards. Epstein would often lose thousands of pounds by playing baccarat or chemin de fer, but would stay at the Curzon House the whole evening—eating an expensive meal and drinking fine wines. The club never presented Epstein with a bill, as they knew that he lost so much in their casino.


A few weeks before his own death, Epstein attended a traditional shiva in Liverpool after his father died, having just come out of the Priory clinic where he had been trying to cure his acute insomnia and his addiction to amphetamines. Epstein made his last visit to a Beatles' recording session on 23 August 1967, at the Chappell Recording Studios on Maddox Street, London.

On 24 August, Epstein asked Brown and Geoffrey Ellis down to Kingsley Hall (44.5 miles from his home in Chapel Street) which was Epstein's country home in Uckfield, Sussex, for the Bank Holiday weekend. After they got there, Epstein decided to drive back to London by himself because an expected group of rent boys he had invited failed to arrive. Epstein phoned Brown the next day at 5 o'clock in the afternoon from his Chapel Street house in London. Brown thought that Epstein sounded "very groggy", and suggested that Epstein take a train back down to Kingsley Hall instead of driving under the influence of Tuinals. Epstein replied that he would eat something, read his mail and watch Juke Box Jury before phoning Brown to tell him which train to meet. He never called again.

Epstein died of a drug overdose on 27 August 1967. The Beatles were in Bangor at the time, having a meeting with the Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and Epstein had previously agreed to travel to Bangor after the August Bank Holiday. A concert by Jimi Hendrix at the Saville Theatre (which Epstein leased) was canceled out of respect on the same day that Epstein died. At the statutory inquest, his death was officially ruled accidental, probably caused by a gradual buildup of Carbitral in his system, mixed with alcohol. It was revealed that he had taken six Carbitral pills in order to sleep, which was probably usual for Epstein, but meant that his tolerance was very close to becoming lethal.

Peter Brown claimed in his memoir, The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of The Beatles, that he had once found a suicide note written by Epstein and spoke with him directly about it. According to Brown, the note read in part, "This is all too much and I can't take it anymore." A short will and testament followed, in which Epstein left his house and money to his mother and his brother (Brown himself was a small beneficiary). When confronted with the note, Epstein told Brown that he was grateful Brown had not told anyone about it, and told him that he was sorry he had made Brown worry. He explained that he had simply taken one pill too many and that he did not intend to overdose and promised to be more careful from then on. Brown later wrote that he wondered if he was really doing Epstein a favor by not showing the note to Epstein's doctor, Norman Cowan, who would have stopped prescribing drugs for Epstein. The Beatles did not attend Epstein's funeral, wishing to give his family privacy by not attracting the media and fans. A few weeks later, however, all four attended a memorial service for Epstein at the New London Synagogue in St. John's Wood (near the Abbey Road studios) which was officiated by Rabbi Louis Jacobs, who said that Epstein was "a symbol of the malaise of our generation." Epstein is buried in the Kirkdale Jewish Cemetery in Liverpool (section A grave H12). The coroner, Gavin Thurston, told the Westminster inquest that Epstein's death was caused by an overdose of Carbitral, and ruled it as an accidental death. The pathologist, Dr. Donald Teare, said Epstein had been taking bromide in the form of Carbitral for some time, and that the barbiturate level in Epstein's blood was a "low fatal level."


Epstein was overlooked when Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr were honored with the MBE in 1965 (Harrison (or McCartney) once said that the MBE stood for "Mister Brian Epstein"). The Beatles were among the earliest entrants into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but Epstein is not in the Hall's "Non-Performer's Section". Martin Lewis—previously Taylor's assistant—created The Official Brian Epstein Website, which includes a petition that Epstein be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lewis also organized the 1998 re-publication (in the U.S.) of Epstein's 1964 autobiography, A Cellarful of Noise. McCartney summarized the importance of Epstein when he was interviewed, in 1997, for a BBC documentary about Epstein by stating: "If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian." In his 1970 Rolling Stone interview, John Lennon commented that Epstein's death marked the beginning of the end for the group: "I knew that we were in trouble then ... I thought, We've fuckin' had it now." 30 years after Epstein's death, McCartney said, "Brian would really be happy to hear how much we loved him." The first contract between The Beatles and Epstein was auctioned in London in 2008, and was sold for £240,000.