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Brian Epstein: Rock and Roll Death

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MR BRIAN EPSTEIN Manager of The Beatles until his death. Mr. Brian Epstein Sept 19th 1934-Aug 27th 1967

Epstein attended a traditional shiva in Liverpool after his father died, having just come out of the Priory clinic where he had been trying to cure his acute insomnia and addiction to amphetamines. A few days before his death, he made his last visit to a Beatles recording session on 23 August 1967, at the Chappell Recording Studios on Maddox Street, London.

On 24 August, Epstein asked Brown and Geoffrey Ellis down to Kingsley Hill for the Bank Holiday weekend. Approximately 50 miles from his home in Chapel Street, Kingsley Hill was Epstein’s country home in Warbleton, East Sussex. After they arrived, Epstein decided to drive back to London alone because an expected group of rent boys he had invited failed to arrive, although they did turn up after Epstein left. Epstein phoned Brown at 5 pm the next day from his Chapel Street house in London.

Brown thought that Epstein sounded “very groggy”, and suggested that he take a train back down to the nearest train station, in Uckfield, instead of driving under the influence of Tuinals. Epstein replied that he would eat something, read his mail and watch Juke Box Jury before phoning Brown to tell him which train to meet. He never called again.

Epstein died of an overdose of Carbitral, a form of barbiturate or sleeping pill, in his locked bedroom, on 27 August 1967. He was discovered after his butler had knocked on the door, and then hearing no response, asked the housekeeper to call the police.

Epstein was found on a single bed, dressed in pyjamas, with various correspondence spread over a second single bed.At the statutory inquest his death was officially ruled an accident; caused by a gradual buildup of Carbitral in his system, combined with alcohol. It was revealed that he had taken six Carbitral pills in order to sleep, which was probably normal for him, but in combination with alcohol they reduced his tolerance to lethal levels.

The Beatles were in Bangor at the time, with the Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Epstein had previously agreed to travel to Bangor after the August Bank Holiday.[138][139] The shocked and stunned Beatles asked the Maharishi for his advice, and were told, “being within the direct realm of the physical world, [Epstein’s death] is not important”.A concert by Jimi Hendrix at Epstein’s Saville Theatre was cancelled on the evening of his death.

Brown wrote in his memoir, The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of The Beatles, that he had once found a suicide note written by Epstein and had spoken with him about it. According to Brown the note read in part, “This is all too much and I can’t take it any more”.

Brown had also found a will in which Epstein left his house and money to his mother and his brother, with Brown also being named as a minor beneficiary. When confronted with the notes, Epstein told Brown that he would be grateful if Brown did not tell anyone, and was sorry he had made Brown worry.

He explained that when he wrote the note and composed the will he had simply taken one pill too many, and that he had no intention of overdosing, promising to be more careful in the future. Brown later wrote that he wondered if he had done the right thing by not showing the note to Epstein’s doctor, Norman Cowan, who would have stopped prescribing drugs.

The coroner, Gavin Thurston, told the Westminster inquest that Epstein’s death was caused by an overdose of Carbitral, and ruled it as an accidental death. The pathologist, Dr. Donald Teare, stated that Epstein had been taking bromide in the form of Carbitral for some time, and that the barbiturate level in Epstein’s blood was a “low fatal level”.

The Beatles did not attend Epstein’s funeral, both to allow his family some privacy, and to avoid attracting fans and the media.

Epstein was buried in section A grave H12, in the Long Lane Jewish Cemetery, Aintree, Liverpool.

The service at the graveside was held by Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon, who said, disparagingly, that Epstein was “a symbol of the malaise of our generation”. A few weeks later, on 17 October, all four Beatles attended a memorial service for Epstein at the New London Synagogue in St John’s Wood (near Abbey Road Studios), which was officiated by Rabbi Louis Jacobs.The Bee Gees‘ 1968 song “In the Summer of His Years” was written and recorded as a tribute to Epstein.

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