27th August 1967: The Death of Brian Epstein

Brian Epstein, manager of The Beatles
Brian Epstein, manager of The Beatles, who died on 27th August 1967

On 27th August 1967, Brian Epstein was found dead in his London flat. His Personal Assistant, Alistair Taylor, discovered his body. Many people still think that Brian committed suicide. Alistair explained what really happened in an interview with me for Liddypool, as he discussed Brian Epstein’s death, a very personal story.

David Bedford with Alistair Taylor, Brian Epstein's Personal Assistant
David Bedford with Alistair Taylor, Brian Epstein’s Personal Assistant

“Brian had called me on several occasions threatening to commit suicide, and when I went round to his flat, he would be sitting there quite calmly having a drink and wondering what the fuss was about.

If Brian couldn’t be their manager..

“Brian was into drugs and becoming more and more dependent on them. I could see how this changed his character, with him being more depressed. Many have suggested that The Beatles didn’t need him any more. However, Lennon summed it up when he said, ‘Well we’ve f***ing had it now’. Most importantly, the four Beatles were quite clear on this: if Brian couldn’t be their manager then nobody else could”.

How did Alistair recall that night?

“I remember coming home from San Francisco, walking through the door and saying hello to my wife Lesley, when the phone went. Epstein’s secretary rang and said she couldn’t get an answer from Brian. I had to apologise to Lesley and head off there.  Naturally, Lesley wasn’t impressed, but I had a feeling something was wrong. We went in to the flat, and I just remember Brian lying there and I immediately knew he was dead. 

“Therefore, I looked around, and presumed it wasn’t suicide, because firstly there was no note, but more importantly, I could see his pill bottles next to his bed, half full with the lids on. There were some letters on the bed and his favourite chocolate biscuits on a plate.”

“He did not commit suicide”

Most importantly, what caused Brian Epstein’s death? The coroner confirmed what Alistair said; it was an “incautious self-overdose”. The amount of drugs in his body was consistent with a build up over the previous weeks, and this would have had the side effect of making the user more and more forgetful. The official cause of death was ‘Carbrital poisoning’. ‘Time, place and circumstances: 3.00 p.m., Sunday 27 August 1967 at 24, Chapel Street, Westminster. Found dead in bed. Coroner’s conclusion: Incautious self-over-dosage. Accidental death’.

brian’s funeral and burial

Brian Epstein's grave in Aintree, Liverpool
Brian Epstein’s grave in Aintree, Liverpool

Brian Epstein’s body was brought back to Liverpool, and his funeral was held in his local synagogue at Greenbank Drive in Wavertree; he was buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Aintree, North Liverpool. His contribution to the group’s success has been diminished over time, but to those in the know, it is immeasurable.

Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles by David Bedford
Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles by David Bedford

Without Brian Epstein, The Beatles would never have got out of Liverpool, obtained a record deal, and gone on to have the fame and fortune they did. (This is an excerpt from Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles)

a statue for brian Epstein in liverpool

In 2019, Liverpool is now looking to raise the money to erect a statue to Brian Epstein. More news will follow. See www.epsteinstatue.co.uk

David Bedford

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Author: David Bedford

David Bedford grew up in The Dingle, attended the primary school that Ringo Starr did, before moving to Penny Lane, where his three daughters attended Dovedale Primary School, where John Lennon and George Harrison had previously attended.His first book, "Liddypool" was published in 2009, now in its third edition. His second book, "The Fab one hundred and Four" was published in 2013, and his third book, "Finding the Fourth Beatle" was published in 2018. He was also the Associate Producer and Beatles historian for the documentary feature film, "Looking for Lennon".He is working on several other projects at the moment,

6 thoughts on “27th August 1967: The Death of Brian Epstein”

  1. Brian was the driving force to shoot The Beatles to the fame he always foresaw ….. he knew what was to come…I believe he did think his days as manager were coming to an end , maybe Pepper was the album that made him feel that way …. He did get more and more depressed and had a sort of self destruct button .

    The Beatles were lost after his death , but would they have still stayed together if he had still been alive?

    Who knows ? How would he have dealt with the Yoko Ono influence ???

    We unfortunately will never know

  2. Hi David, just as a point of interest (and in a nutshell) I’m 75 next birthday, born in the Dingle, attended Liverpool Art School 58/60, frequented “ye cracks” pub, “the Phill”, “the White Star”, “the Grapes” (underage and illegally I might add!) Discovered the Cavern, saw the Beatles only lunchtime session with Stu Sutcliffe, then seeing the Beatles on many lunchtime sessions at the Cacern (I had job in Cooper’s food store, Church street in their ticket writing studio while attending Art school now part time.) I bought my first vinyl records from Nems, my first guitar from Hesseys (Jim Gretty gave me lessons! and John, Stu and Paul were also in the shop the same day!)
    Over the preceding months/year I saw and chatted to all members of the Beatles on several occasions etc. I was a member of the Cavern, the Iron Door, etc. amongst other Liverpool clubs of the era….
    That’s all for now,
    Kind regards,
    Jim

    1. Hi Jim, that’s fantastic! Thank you for sharing your story. Where in the Dingle were you born? I grew up on Devonshire Road and lived in Teilo Street when I first got married. Went to St. Silas school too, though I was born in 1965! I bought my guitars in Hessys in the 80s onwards. You’ve obviously got some great memories! Lucky you. Thank you. David

  3. Brian was steadfast and true. He believed in ‘the boys’ and immersed himself wholeheartedly in making them a success.
    Regardless of the bands growth on professional and personal levels, Brian’s watchful eye, style and savvy was always needed. Because of that, the Beatles were able to do what they did best. It is a shame that Brian did not realize just how essential he was.

    1. I so agree with you. Such a sadness that he didn’t live to see, not only the 60s, but the legacy that is still with us today.

      He was the one who gave them direction and kept them together.

      David

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