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Brian Epstein

February 7, 2018

The Beatles arrived in America on this date in 1964 and launched a cultural tidal wave. They were accompanied by their 30-year-old manager Brian Epstein, who had paid for the recording of their first demo record, convinced record producer George Martin to sign them, invented their “mop-top” hairstyles, outfitted them in suits, and arranged for their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Epstein (pictured wearing the hat), with no prior experience in artistic management -- prior to The Beatles, he had managed the record department of his family’s music store -- had an earthshaking case of beginner’s luck: By April of that year, The Beatles would occupy all of the five top slots of the Top Forty Hits listing, and went on to become, in John Lennon’s words, “more popular than Jesus.” While stateside, they and Epstein were introduced to marijuana by Bob Dylan, and Paul McCartney reported that, on one occasion, Epstein stood in front of a mirror, pointing at himself and saying “Jew!” over and over while laughing aloud. Epstein died of an accidental overdose of sleeping pills in 1967 at age 32.

“Ringo, the last to become a Beatle, came into the group not because I wanted him, but because the boys did. To be completely honest, I was not at all keen to have him. I thought his drumming rather loud, his appearance unimpressive, and I could not see why he was important to the Beatles. But again I trusted their instincts and I am grateful now.” —Brian Epstein