Last Updated : 31 Aug 2009


Pre-1900 People



Brian Epstein 1934 - 1967 [Photo: United Press]One of the NEMS (left) and Epstein (right) Stores in LiverpoolBrian Epstein was born in Liverpool in 1934 into a Jewish family. The family fortunes had been established by his grandfather Isaac who opened a furniture store in Liverpool early in the century.

The Epsteins had not always owned NEMS (which stood for North End Music Store). NEMS had in fact been going much longer than Epsteins. They took over the NEMS business in the thirties as part of their expansion plans as they could see that the music business would fit well with the furniture firm.

When aged 16 in 1950, Brian started work at the family's Walton Road store. He had not done well at school and neither did his national service go well. He took various jobs in his family stores and at one stage also trained as an actor at RADA (Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts) where his classmates included Susannah York and where Albert Finney and Peter O'Toole had just left.

The Epstein family lived at 197 Queens Drive in the Childwall area of the city.

In 1954, when he returned from national service Brian was put in charge of Clarendon's Furnishing at Hoylake, which was a another branch of the family business.

Eventually, he was given the job as the manager of the record department of the NEMS in Great Charlotte Street in Liverpool which had opened in 1957. By 1959, NEMS had an extensive pop and classical record department covering two floors of the store. This was so successful, he was later transferred to a newly opened larger branch of the company at 12-14 Whitechapel in central Liverpool.

Brian became the Beatles' manager in December 1961. He started a separate company called NEMS Enterprises in order to keep this activity separate from the record store business. The Beatles liked Brian Epstein for various reasons. Paul McCartney was impressed by his Ford Zodiac car.

On the 6th of July that year, was the first issue of "Mersey Beat". From the third issue of that local music newspaper, which was on the 3rd of August, Brian contributed to the paper through his record column.

As well as The Beatles, Brian managed other local acts including Gerry and The Pacemakers and Cilla Black.

In January 1967, the Gibbs family had returned to England from Australia. Two of the sons, Barry and Maurice had been born on the Isle of Man. Their group - the Bee Gees, had in 1966, their first number one hit in Australia and they sent demo tapes to NEMS. In 1967 they started a successful international career with hits such as "Massachusetts" which reached number one in the UK in October just after Brian's death. Brian had died on the 27th of August 1967 of a drug overdose and is buried at Kirkdale Jewish Cemetary but his company lived on. Other artists who worked with NEMS Enterprises included Jimi Hendrix and Cream.