I’ve just watched an Arena documentary, made a while ago, about the extraordinary life of Brian Epstein. It’s not a crime story in any way, but Epstein’s short life and indeed his rather mysterious death certainly had dramatic elements that make truth seem stranger than fiction.
Epstein was the man who discovered the Beatles, became their manager, and piloted them to the status of pop, and pop culture, legends. The documentary gave a fascinating picture of Liverpool in the 60s, before I knew it, and there was some amazing footage of a crowd at Anfield football ground singing ‘She Loves You’ and ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ – Epstein managed Cilla Black as well, along with groups like Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
Epstein came from a wealthy business family, but he was a closet gay, although he never seems to have had a truly fulfilling relationship on a purely personal level apart from with his family and favourite acts – above all, with the Beatles and John Lennon in particular. Despite his wealth and success, he did not seem to find happiness, although he had plenty of friends, and he became an increasingly heavy drug user.
He died in London (he’d moved from Liverpool by this time) at the age of 42 from a drug overdose. The official verdict was accidental death, rather than suicide. The Beatles were devastated, and one can see why. Epstein was a fascinating, complex individual, and the Arena documentary captured the contradictions in his life and character pretty well, as well as providing a good supply of nostalgic material about a golden era in British culture and the history of Liverpool.