November 8: Brian Epstein Saw The Beatles For The 1st Time

The Fifth Beatle?

On this day in 1961, Brian Epstein, who later managed the band, saw The Beatles play for the first time at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England. 

At the time, Epstein was running his family’s music shop, NEMS (North End Music Stores.) He had first learned of The Beatles in the Mersey Beat, a Liverpool music publication. 

After seeing the band live at the Cavern Club, Epstein and his assistant Alistair Taylor went backstage to meet the band before heading to lunch where he turned to Taylor and asked, “Do you think I should manage them?”

Looking back at the show, Epstein remembered, “I was immediately struck by their music, their beat and their sense of humour on stage—and, even afterwards, when I met them, I was struck again by their personal charm. And it was there that, really, it all started”.

Signing On The Beatles

The Beatles performed at the same venue over the next 3 weeks. At each show, Epstein was in the audience watching them. 

Eventually, Epstein reached out to Allan Williams, the band’s previous manager, to be sure he no longer had ties to the band. 

Williams was The Beatles’ first manager. Unhappy with the taxes being deducted from their paycheques in Germany, the band refused to pay Williams his 10% commission following performances that he’d lined up for them in Hamburg. As a result Williams not only had no ties with them, he told Epstein, not to “touch them with a fucking bargepole.” 

But that didn’t stop Epstein. 

On December 3, 1961, Brian Epstein met with the band to ask them about their current management. He met with them again on the 6th and the 10th before making an offer. 

Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Pete Best (drums) were all under 21 at the time. As such, they had to get their parent’s consent before signing any contracts. Best and his mom were impressed with Epstein, while McCartney’s father was skeptical. Nothing much has been said about how Harrison’s family felt. 

John Lennon’s guardian was outwardly against the idea, but her permission was not needed as Lennon had just turned 21. 

On January 24, 1962, The Beatles signed their first contract with Epstein. Late that same year, Epstein got the band a contract at ENI Recording Studios (later Abbey Road Studios), and Ringo Starr replaced Best on drums. 

RELATED: That time a fan mailed herself to The Beatles …

How Epstein Influenced The Beatles

During his time with The Beatles, Brian Epstein was credited with improving the band’s stage appearance and behaviour. He got them to move away from jeans and leather jackets towards suits and ties. He encouraged them to stop eating, drinking, and smoking on stage and was the one who suggested their closing bow. Epstein once shared how he got the artists to change their style over time. 

“I encouraged them, at first, to get out of the leather jackets and jeans, and I wouldn’t allow them to appear in jeans after a short time, and then, after that step, I got them to wear sweaters on stage, and then, very reluctantly, eventually, suits.”

Epstein worked with The Beatles until he died of an overdose in 1967 at 32 years old. At the time, The Beatles were in Bangor with Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

The Beatles did not attend his funeral. They wanted to give the family privacy and wanted to avoid attracting a crowd. Instead, they gave Epstein’s friend a single flower wrapped in paper to place on his coffin on their behalf. This, however, was forbidden at Jewish funerals. When everyone had left the burial plot and the casket was being properly buried, the friend, who was also Jewish, returned to the grave and quickly tossed the unopened package onto the casket before it was quickly buried. 

The Beatles attended a memorial service for Brian Epstein on October 17, and wrote the song, “In The Summer Of His Years” as a tribute. 

 “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian.”

— Paul McCartney

Other Notable Rock Events From November 8

1953 – Buddy Holly and Jack Neal started The Buddy And Jack Show

1957 – Jailhouse Rock starring Elvis Presley released in theaters. 

1965 – The Dave Clark Five played for Queen Elizabeth. 

1965 – The Beatles recorded “Think For Yourself” at Abbey Road. 

1967 – How I Won The War with John Lennon opened in US theaters. 

1968 – John Lennon and Cynthia Powell Lennon divorced. 

1969 – Abbey Road by The Beatles went to #1. 

1969 – “Something” by The Beatles peaked at #4 in the UK and at #1 in the US. 

1971 – Led Zeppelin released their untitled fourth album. 

1975 – The Carpenters released “Please Mr. Postman.”

1975 – John and Yoko named Elton John as their son Sean’s godfather. 

1976 – Elton John released “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.”

1980 – KISS started their Unmasked Tour of Australia and New Zealand. 

1985 – Ozzy and Sharron Osbourne welcomed their son Jack into the world.  

1985 – Sting released his concert movie, Bring On The Night. 

1986 – Boston’s song “Amanda” went to #1. It was their first and only song to take the top position. 

1986 – The Police’s Every Breath You Take – The Singles went to #1 in the UK. 

1986 – Jason Newstead played bass with Metallica for the first time. 

1987 – Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys married Gina Martin. 

1999 – Lester Bowie passed away at 51. He was a jazz trumpeter and composer who played on David Bowie’s Black Tie White Noise album. The song “Looking for Lester” was named after him.

2003 – Duran Duran reunited for their 25th Anniversary Tour. 

2008 – AC/DC’s Black Ice went to #1 and stayed there for 2 weeks.  

Rock Birthdays

1929 – Bert Berns (Songwriter ad producer); wrote “Twist & Shout,” “Brown Eyed Girl” and more

1944 – Bonnie Bramlett of Delaney & Bonnie (Vocals)

1945 – Don Murray of The Turtles (Drums)

1957 – Porl Thompson of The Cure (Guitar)

On This Day In History – November 8

Today may not have been one of the busiest days in rock history but it has had its fair share of important rock moments. From album debuts to electrifying performances, November 8 serves as a reminder that rock, in all its diversity and dynamism, continues to evolve and captivate.