Forty-five years ago, a tragic event occurred that would lead directly to the demise of the greatest pop music-culture phenomenon the modern world has ever known. Brian Epstein was one of the key global figures of the post-World War II era. Epstein, was the man who discovered and managed the Beatles, the most influential rock group in history and one of the dominant pop culture entities of the 20th century, yet he died of an apparent drug overdose at his elegant townhouse in Belgravia, London. when he was only 32 years old.
Epstein at the Cavern
While Epstein had no musical talent of his own, nor did he any impart any influence on the Beatles' music, it is safe to assume that if he had not strolled into the dingy, dank Cavern Club in Liverpool one day in November 1961, the Beatles would have never been unveiled to the outside world and society as we know it today might be quite different. Thus, it is not unreasonable to declare that Epstein was one of the key global figures of the post-World War II era. Like his four famous protégés, Epstein himself was a fascinating, complex (but ultimately tragic) figure. He was a deeply troubled and insecure man who all of his life fought demons that ultimately crushed him.
Despite his comfortable upbringing, good looks and high intelligence, Epstein had two things against him. First, he was Jewish (the descendant of immigrants from Russia) in a society rife with anti-Semitism. Although Jews in Britain did not face the kind of prejudice and violence they encountered in continental Europe, anti-Semitism frequently reared its ugly head in the north of England, and heavily Irish Catholic Liverpool was no exception.
Worse for Epstein, he was homosexual , a criminal offence in England until September 1967 (just one month after his death). As a lonely, sensitive and spoiled adolescent, he longed to escape from Liverpool to make his mark in the arts and theater in glamorous London. However, his enrollment in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts ended in failure and disappointment. In 1957, while in London, he suffered the humiliation of an arrest for “importuning” and was accused of persistently attempting to procure men for sex in public conveniences. Though he avoided prison, he remained traumatized by the ordeal. The military had also determined him physically and psychiatrically “unfit” to serve after a ten month spell. Depressed by his failure to establish any kind of career in London, Epstein reluctantly returned to Liverpool to work at his family's furniture store and (most notably) their record and musical instrument store, North End Music Stores, or NEMS.
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The originalWalton Road NEMS the site of the Epstein
families original furniture store