Friday, September 24, 2010

Their Manager Brian Epstein (1963)

Have you ever wondered what it must feel like to be the manager of a chart-topping disc star? Imagine the Palladium people telephoning you to talk terms and the record companies sending out their talent scouts to see what other goodies you've got amongst your pop stock!

A fair number of astute and influential music business moguls have found themselves in that envied position but only one man in Great Britain knows what it feels like to have his artists occupying not just the top one but the top THREE positions in the hit parade at the same time. He is 28-years-old Brian Epstein, director of Nems Enterprises, the Liverpool concern, which controls and guides the professional lives of The Beatles, The Fourmost, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer, The Dakotas, The Big Three and Tommy Quickly.

At the earliest stages of his adult career Brian Epstein was more concerned with dining suites and wardrobes than with disc sessions and one-night stands. He had gone into his family's extensive furniture business on the outskirts of Liverpool. Failing to see himself as a long-term enthusiast in this particular line Brian made a timely switch to something entirely different. For twelve months he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. At the end of this period he found he didn't want to become a professional actor and returned to Liverpool. He took with him a faultless speaking voice with a quality of diction which could do justice to even the most frightening passages of Shakespeare.

So far as the management/direction of artists was concerned it all started happening for Brian in 1961. At this time he was running several of Liverpool's largest record-retailing stores and whenever customers asked for specific out-of-stock records Brian would make a point of satisfying their requirements. In 1961 people were beginning to ask him for records by a local group called The Beatles. Fascinated by the group's name and obvious reputation Brian took himself underground to Liverpool's famous subterranean basement of beat, The Cavern, where The Beatles were giving forth with knock-out performances of things like "Twist And Shout," "Love Me Do" and "Long Tall Sally."

Several confabs later Brian had signed the fabulous foursome to an exclusive contract. For almost a year Brian watched his discoveries consolidate their position as the North West's favourite beat boys. He spent hours and days giving advice and encouragement which ran the grooming gamut from clothes and hair styles to choice of instruments and venues. Gradually The Beatles moved from small clubs to large ballrooms and from large ballrooms to luxury theatres.

By the middle of 1962 Brian was convinced that the time was ripe for a trip to London and a series of interviews with some of the country's leading recording managers.

Clutching a precious leather bag laden with Beatle-filled recording tapes Brian planed to the capital. "Eventually I was able to play my set of tapes to George Martin at E.M.I. That meeting and George's favourable reaction to everything he heard on the tapes led to the release of The Beatles' first Parlophone single three months later in October."

That Brian has a keen ear for chart-type sounds is obvious from the enormous success being enjoyed by his star-spangled roster of recording artists. Although it has left him with very little leisure time, Brian has continued to keep in closest contact with each group. He spends his time planing and training around the U.K. in a series of cross-country sprints so that he can attend concerts, recording sessions, television programmes and radio shows which involve Nems chart giants.

Brian is calm, cool and confident by nature but he still gets a tremendous kick out of hearing that any one of his artists has entered or re-entered the Top Twenty with a new release. He talks quietly, thinks briskly, dresses immaculately, plans brilliantly and works diligently. His relationship with the members of his groups is a close and unusually trouble-free one for his forthright business acumen is tempered by an acute personal understanding of their likes and dislikes. They, in turn respect the wisdom of his decisions and the value of his counsel upon all matters connected directly or indirectly with their busy new lives as part of Britain's entertainment scene.

Ever since the first week of April 1963 the Number One spot on the hit parade has been held by groups which are managed by Brian Epstein. In April it was Gerry And The Pacemakers ("How Do You Do It?"), in May it was The Beatles ("From Me To You"), in June it was Billy J. Kramer ("Do You Want To Know A Secret") followed by Gerry And The Pacemakers who are still at the pop peak with "I Like It" as this page goes to press in the middle of July. Throughout the later portion of this period The Beatles gave Brian a double honor by taking their "Please Please Me" album to the top of the LP charts. Brian was now the manager of Nems Enterprises groups which headed the best-sellers in both the single and long-play departments!


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