Brian Samuel Epstein (September 19, 1934-August 27, 1967) was a British businessman, best known as the manager for the famous rock band of the 60s, The Beatles.
Epstein's father owned a furniture store in England (Paul McCartney's family had even purchased a piano from the Epstein's) and eventually took over NEMS. Epstein's father put him in charge of the ground floor of the newly opened NEMS store on Great Charlotte St. Eventually, a second store was opened at 12-14 Whitechapel, and Epstein was put in charge of the entire operation. On August 3, 1961 Epstein began writing a regular music column in Mersey Beat.
Epstein first noticed the Beatles when he heard them backing Tony Sheridan on a single. Epstein and friend, Alistair Taylor, went to see the band perform at the crowded Cavern Club, which was just down the street from his store. Epstein said of the performance: "I was immediately struck by their music, their beat, and their sense of humour 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..."
It was decided that Epstein would manage the band during a meeting on December 10, 1961. The guys then signed a five year contract with Epstein at Pete Best's house on January 24, 1962. Epstein himself did not sign the contract, giving the Beatles the option of getting out of the contract at any time.
Although not known for making good business decisions or deals, Epstein was a major force behind the band's early appearance and success. When Epstein found the band, they were wearing blue jeans and leather jackets, performing rowdy rock and roll shows. He encouraged them to wear suits and "clean up" their stage performance. He also asked them not to smoke on stage, and encouraged the famous synchronized bow at the end of their performances. Although this image didn't last for long, the fairly "clean cut" appearance (with the exception of the "mop top" shaggy hairstyles) certainly helped the band get accepted by the general public at first.
After being rejected by every major record label in England, Epstein was eventually able to get the band signed to EMI's small Parlophone label. Epstein, visited a local HMV store to have the Beatles' demo tapes copied in its recording studio. An HMV technician named Jim Foy heard the songs and told EMI's George Martin about them. Martin then agreed to meet with Epstein's new band and scheduled an audition. After their first rehearsals with Martin, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison asked Epstein to fire drummer Pete Best, who was later replaced by Ringo Starr.
In October 1964, Epstein's autobiography, A Cellarful of Noise, was published, cowritten by Beatles publicist Derek Taylor.
In addition to managing the Beatles, Epstein also managed Gerry & the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, The Fourmost and Cilla Black.
Epstein died of a drug overdose, likely from some sort of sleeping pills, on August 27, 1967. The death was officially ruled accidental, although it has often been speculated that it was a suicide. Epstein managed every aspect of the Beatles' career. When he died the difference was immediately noticeable and their business affairs began to unravel.