Much has been written about Brian Epstein’s life, accomplishments, failures, and personal demons. But today, on the 47th anniversary of his early and tragic death, I want to pay tribute to his courage.
The courage to mold a family furniture chain into the biggest record store in Northern England. The courage to take a leap on a local band, offering his services as a manager though he had no experience. The courage to try anything to bring that band to the height of success in England and America, despite repeated rebuffs and rejections. The courage to stand up to four tough, leather-clad musicians and mold them into the Beatles we came to know and love. And the courage to let the Beatles shed that image when the time was right, so they could find themselves as musicians and as people.
Despite the prejudice and fear that came with being both Jewish and a closeted homosexual at that time, Brian Epstein had the courage to put himself out in the world, taking a chance on the Beatles and on his own ability to lead them to worldwide success. And of all the serendipitous occurrences shaped the Beatles’ story, this early relationship may have been the most important.
Tragically, Brian Epstein never lived to see his proclamation that “the children of the 21st century will be listening to the Beatles” come true. But we can honor his memory and celebrate the immense courage required to help make that vision a reality.