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Beatles scholar on the recognition finally of Brian Epstein
by Martin Lewis
I am thrilled and delighted that 15 years after the campaign was launched to have Brian Epstein honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it is finally going to happen.
Brian Epstein has long been the most under-sung hero across the Beatles' universe. First of all, to be crystal-clear, everything in the Beatles' world starts with their incredible talent. Without their genius for music there would have been nothing. But, as my dear friends Derek Taylor (RIP), Ray Coleman (RIP), George Martin and Andrew Loog Oldham all made clear to me over the years, without Brian Epstein's passionate belief in them and without his Herculean efforts, the Beatles' genius might well have gone undiscovered by the world.
At the point that Brian encountered the Beatles in November 1961, the core trio of John, Paul and George had been together for nearly four years (since February 1958). Despite all their hard work and endeavors their fame had not spread beyond a few hundred devotees in Liverpool and Hamburg. It was Brian's unshakable belief in them that led to them reaching George Martin's ears and nurturing skills as a producer. It was Brian who tirelessly promoted them to the music industry, the media and the outside world. It was Brian's drive that secured them their unprecedented three consecutive appearances on the "Ed Sullivan Show" in February 1964.
It was Brian who finally convinced Capitol Records to sign them for America (after that company had rejected them on no less than four occasions). And between 1961 and his tragic accidental death in August 1967, it was Brian who protected the Beatles from the inevitable industry pressures to simply repeat themselves musically as a sure-fire commercial choice. As the Beatles' progressed into deep and uncharted musical waters that might have lost them their original fan-base, far from fretting about this potential threat to his income, Brian took immense pride in their creative development and ensured that they had the freedom to develop their nascent talent into the full-blown genius that has been recognized and cherished for the past half-century.
I attended the first three Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies in 1986, 1987 and 1988. (On the first two occasions my film production company had been commissioned by Hall of Fame co-founder Bob Krasnow to film the proceedings for their official archives). It was at the 1988 ceremony at which the Beatles were inducted that I first discussed with my old mentor Derek Taylor the idea that Brian Epstein should be inducted into what was then called the "Non-Performers' Section". But Brian had died over twenty years earlier and we realized that there were very few people in his corner to argue the merits.
Then, in a twelve-month period in 1996-1997 we lost two of Brian's greatest champions, Derek Taylor and Ray Coleman. At that point, I realized that this was a responsibility that I had a duty to take on. In the years following the launch of the campaign I was told by many people that Brian was just too long gone to be remembered by the right people. But when George Martin accepted my invitation to write the introduction for the new edition of Brian's autobiography that I was curating in 1998, he also agreed to be the first signatory of the petition I launched on the BrianEpstein.com official website calling for Brian's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Just as George Martin's signature in 1962 got the Beatles' career moving, I believe that his signature in 1998 eventually inspired the wonderful news we now have.
In April 2014, as the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' US breakthrough that he was so instrumental in helping, some 47 years after the passing of this inspirational British, Jewish gay man who was such a key figure in the success of the Beatles, the world can finally say a "Kaddish" for his soul and a hearty "Mazeltov" to the man who brought the world the Beatles.
Beatles scholar Martin Lewis was instigator in 1998 of the 15-year campaign to have Brian Epstein inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lewis was a protege and friend of Beatles publicist Derek Taylor (who assisted Epstein in the writing of his 1964 autobiography "A Cellarful of Noise") and a close friend of Epstein biographer the late Ray Coleman. Lewis is the author of the Companion Narrative to the 1998 edition of Epstein's autobiography and the founder/owner of the official BrianEpstein.com website since 1998.
• Brian Epstein official website
• Martin Lewis - Beatles scholar
Published December 17, 2013
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