Brian Epstein Signs The Beatles
Words by Riley Fitzgerald (@Riley.NF)
Graphic by Heritage Auctions
On January 24, 1961, the Beatles signed a 5-year management contract with Brian Epstein.
The document was signed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and original Beatles drummer Pete Best.
The contract, acquired by Epstein from a local stationary store, tasked him with the responsibility of finding work for the band, managing their schedule and handling matters of publicity.
The document outlined that Epstein would also take be 10% of the band’s earnings, rising to 15% should their earnings should exceed £120 a week.
When Best was later ejected form the band, as the legend goes for upstaging Paul and John amongst the band’s female fans, the Beatles signed a second contract with Ringo Starr in 1962.
After Best left the band and shortly before the breakthrough of ‘Love Me Do’, a second contract was signed on 1 October 1962.
“He liked the look of it,” Lennon once shared of Epstein’s decision to give up his promising career in retail management at his parent’s department store to manage the band. “He wanted to manage us and we had nobody better, so we said, ‘All right, you can do it.'”
While Epstein had little experience as a manager initially proved an attractive prospect for the ambitious Liverpool band.
“He knew how to get it happening,” George Harrison later recounted.
Brian’s belief in the band was unparalleled, believing them destined to become bigger than Elvis.
“That seemed outrageous,” Harrison added, “yet he did seem to have the right attitude.”
Cutting an impressive figure in his dapper suits and talking with a “posh” accent, the Beatles believed it was Brian who could take their career to the next level by brokering a recording contract with a major label.
Yet despite landing the Beatles their first recording contract and playing a fatherly role in their lives for several years, Brian would also make many poor business deals.
Most notoriously of all he signed away 90% of the band’s US merchandising rights.
“Brian didn’t get very good deals on anything,” Geroge Harrison later said. “For years, EMI was giving us one old penny between us for every single and two shillings for every album.”
As the group became more aware of their business dealings, growing dissatisfaction with Epstein set in.
This, in addition to a growing drug habit, saw Epstein’s health fall into a sharp decline.
He would eventually overdose on barbiturates on August 27, 1967.
The band was devastated.
“The Beatles broke up the day that Brian died,” John famously declared. “We’d never have made it without him and vice versa.”