The life of Beatles manager Brian Epstein was honored with the unveiling of a prestigious Heritage Foundation Blue Plaque June 29 in London. The unveiling took place at Sutherland House, located at 5/6 Argyll Street. The building stands next door to the London Palladium that was the base of operations for Epstein’s company NEMS Enterprises. The company occupied offices on the fifth floor of the building from the height of Beatlemania in 1964 until shortly after Brian’s death in August 1967 at age 32.
Among those were two men who were executives in various companies related to the Beatles. Geoffrey Ellis was a Liverpool friend of Epstein who became Chief Executive Administrator of NEMS Enterprises Ltd. and was based in the building from 1964 to 1967. Also in attendance was Tony Bramwell, who worked at NEMS with Epstein and was later head of Apple Records.
Also on hand were actor Andrew Lancel, who plays Epstein in the play “Epstein: The Man Who Made the Beatles”; Vicki Michelle, president of the Heritage Foundation; Martin Lewis, who helped establish the Brian Epstein official website and led the effort for this year’s induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame; Mersey Beat newspaper founder and editor Bill Harry; Beatles author Mark Lewisohn; Rod Davis of the Quarrymen; ’80s pop star Adam Ant, whose mother was Paul McCartney’s cleaner in the 1960s; Brian’s friend Joe Flannery; singer Dave Berry; Tony Crane of the Merseybeats and Mary Cochran, known as Anne Collingham when she worked at the Beatles Fan Club.
Many of Epstein’s acquaintances sent personal messages. Paul McCartney’s statement said, “I know Brian would have been very proud to think that he had earned a Blue Plaque in the West End of London. He played a very important role in guiding the career of us Beatles and more than that he was a lovely man whose friendship we all valued and who I will always remember with great fondness. Congratulations Brian. Love from Paul McCartney.”
Ringo Starr also sent a message. “He started like we did. He didn’t know the game, neither did we, really. We knew how to play, and he tidied us up and moved us on. He ran a record shop in his father’s furniture company, heard about us, or heard about them, I wasn’t even with them then. He went down to the Cavern and decided to be a manager. And he was very good. Love and peace. Ringo.”
“Brian Epstein and I were very good friends from the word go, and we liked each other a lot. We sort of ran the Beatles together but he left the music to me and gave me enormous encouragement. The Beatles were number one in Brian’s life, as they were in mine. He was a charming man who we lost far too soon, but will always be remembered with affection and gratitude,” said a statement by Sir George Martin.
“Brian’s enthusiasm and unwavering belief in The Beatles, myself and his other artists made it impossible for the world to not sit up and take notice,” said Billy J. Kramer, who along with the Dakotas were among the other artists managed by Epstein. “Over the years, I felt that his huge contribution to the music industry had been totally overlooked, but, finally, ceremonies such as this, along with his recent long-overdue induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, give Brian Epstein the recognition he deserves.
“Here it is 50 years later and The Beatles are still the biggest phenomenon that the world has every known, and I attribute a great deal of that to Brian. I was very proud to have him as my manager, mentor and friend.”
“I liked Brian very dearly and appreciated the good things he’d taught me about how to deal with people. He was a great help to me in growing up,” said Gerry Marsden. “A year after his death, three of his acts had achieved precisely what he said they would: The Beatles were bigger than Elvis, Cilla was on her way to becoming a very successful TV personality, and I had made it to the West End for a musical (“Charlie Girl”). He was a great man who crammed a lot into a short life, and made a lot of people very happy.”
“Brian was a wonderful person and a wonderful manager who did so much for me and all his acts, nothing was ever too much trouble for him,” said Cilla Black, also on Epstein’s roster. “He always took special care of me as the only female artist on the roster and made sure that everything was right, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful. He’ll always have a special place in my heart and I’m so pleased for him today. Thank you Brian, love Cilla.”
“The whole world of popular music owes a great deal to Brian Epstein, with his innovative and personal approach to the many aspects of management, which ensured the success of not only those under his direct guidance but of artists managed by others,” said Geoffrey Ellis.
“At the point that Brian started managing the Beatles, in January 1962, John, Paul and George had been together for five years – yet had not become known outside Liverpool and Hamburg. Brian believed in them passionately and committed himself to fulfilling the dream that John had that the Beatles could become bigger than Elvis, which seemed impossible at the time. ” said Yoko Ono. “But Brian’s tireless efforts on their behalf helped make that dream come true. John never forgot the love that Brian had for the Beatles and his crucial role in that wonderful voyage.”
“To put it bluntly, without Brian the Mersey Beat phenomenon would not have escaped Liverpool,” said Tony Bramwell, NEMS promotion executive and Apple Records CEO. “He was the one who could see further than across the Mersey and by his own energy and determination mastered The Beatles’ career and moved the whole thing into an international industry.”
A large crowd greeted the official unveiling party and applauded the unveiling of the Blue Plaque to celebrate Brian and his achievements in the music industry. A special celebratory lunch followed the plaque unveiling, and guests enjoyed a reading from Epstein: The Man Who Made The Beatles by actors Andrew Lancel and Will Finlason, who also performed the song “Baby It’s You.” Epstein would have celebrated his 80th birthday on Sept. 19. (Thanks to Martin Lewis, Bill Elms and Richard Porter for all the information for our coverage and pictures here.)