Stories told in June, 2012

Brian Epstein

This story takes place in 1964. It was told on June 30th, 2012 by Frank.  Be the first to comment

Norman Weiss, the Beatles’ booking agent at General Artists, had called at the last minute and asked me to meet Epstein myself with a limousine. In my eight years in the business I had occasionally been forced to hire limos for artists, but I had drawn the line at attending them personally. This time I reluctantly agreed, sure that this was the final step in my career as a sell-out.

It wasn’t that I objected to a comfortable ride. The limo was just a symbol of everything depressing about this business. As the crowds and the money got bigger and bigger, the artists were becoming more and more insulated from reality, with layers and layers of retinue and trappings. I didn‘t see why anybody needed more than the average folk singer’s staff of two — himself and somebody to do the night driving.

There was no getting out of this now, though. Epstein had stipulated that the Beatles’ third U.S. tour must begin in Chicago and that my company must handle it, because he had liked the job we had done the first two times, and Epstein was at the very top of the pile right now. He got what he wanted. There was no way for us not to oblige him, even if I regarded it as an imposition.

Brian Epstein walked down the ramp, as nattily attired as ever. I’d like to say it was a momentous meeting between two titans of the industry, but he was not a man to leave a deep impression, and I was just a 40-year-old former steelworker who had found a way to make a living promoting shows. We shook hands and hurried to the car.

In the back of the limo, I began to offer my opinion on how to approach the press conference, but he brushed me off. Epstein made his attitude clear very quickly: he appreciated our support and he regarded us as competent technicians, but we had nothing to contribute to the press conference beyond setting it up. “The lads can handle it,“ he told me. To my surprise, he turned out to be right — they did fine without me.

I got him to the Astor Towers hotel and showed him to his room, and except for the press conference that was the last I ever saw of Brian Epstein; he spent the rest of the time with a young man somebody had arranged for him to meet. He was not available to me or to the agents, or even, as far as I could tell, to the Beatles.