Campaigners await green light for a celebration of the ‘Fifth Beatle’
“IF anyone was the fifth Beatle, it was Brian” said Paul McCartney. 60 years ago, on Tuesday 9 November, Brian Epstein made the short walk from the NEMS Record Store in Liverpool city centre to the Cavern Club. It was a lunchtime gig that would change not just music in Liverpool but everywhere.
Now plans have been submitted this week for a statue of Brian Epstein to stand in Whitechapel, close to where the NEMS Record Store was and where he worked.
He will always be remembered as a very proud part of our identity
Epstein, who would have been 85, became manager of The Beatles in 1961, after seeing them play in the Cavern Club. The venue was just a short walk from the NEMS Record Store, which Epstein managed, and which played a vital role in the city's music history, along with that of The Beatles.
Born in Liverpool in 1934 to Jewish parents, Epstein also played a key role in the city’s wider music scene, nurturing talent including artists Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, The Moody Blues and The Chants.
His work as a promoter was vital to the development of Merseybeat and Liverpool’s cultural reputation in the mid-60s. His commitment to the city, its music and culture has created a powerful legacy still felt today.
A film about Epstein’s life is currently being shot on location in Liverpool, London and the US - Midas Man stars Jacob Fortune-Lloyd (Wolf Hall and The Queen’s Gambit) as the music impresario and is scheduled for release in 2022, directed by Jonas Åkerlund.
Epstein already has a plaque in Liverpool outside 4 Rodney Street, where he was born in 1934. The campaign for a statue has been led for the last five years by the Brian Epstein Legacy Project. It has been made possible after a successful public Crowdfunding campaign and funding from Bill Heckle at The Cavern as well as from the Liverpool BID Company.
The Epstein Statue has been created by sculptor Andy Edwards, the artist behind The Fab Four at Liverpool’s Pier Head, as well as Bob Marley on Jamaica Street. Edwards also co-sculpted the statue of Cilla Black in Mathew Street.
Epstein’s statue would be the first of an LGBTQ+ icon in Liverpool city centre. Although his sexuality was not publicly known until after his death, it was well known amongst his friends and business associates.
As a gay man living at time when homosexuality was illegal, Epstein faced many personal challenges. He was only 32 when he died and did not live to see the changes that could have impacted on his freedom to publicly express his sexuality (laws were changed a month after his death).
Sculptor Andy Edwards says he is “elated” the fundraising target has been met to make the casting and siting of the statue here in Liverpool a reality.
“The design, if I’m not spoiling the surprise, is intended to be in the same style as our Beatles statues and relates to them not only in the walking pose, but it maps the short journey Brian would take to The Cavern from his NEMS office, or maybe to meet his boys on the waterfront.
“He could also, of course, be off to see Gerry, Billy, Tommy, Michael or Cilla.
“He is such a connective part of musical and cultural history, and he will always be remembered as a very proud part of our identity as the most creatively original, beautifully diverse and warmly caring place you can visit.”
The Brian Epstein Legacy Project committee includes cultural campaigner and activist Tom Calderbank; Beatles fan Marie Darwin who was part of a group who campaigned for a plaque to be placed on the birthplace of Brian Epstein; Beatles historians, researchers and authors Kevin and Julie Roach, and son Robert; Larry Sidorczuk who was the personal assistant to the late Joe Flannery, Brian Epstein’s original business partner and bookings manager; and Bill Elms, a producer of the smash hit play Epstein: The Man Who Made The Beatles, which was staged in Liverpool and London’s West End.
They have also formed a Stateside partnership with the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Music Association Hall of Fame & Museum – helping to champion plans on the global stage.
If approved, the statue will be unveiled early in 2022.
The planning application for the Brian Epstein statue in Whitechapel can be viewed online.
Read next: ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ - unseen footage features in new documentary
Read again: Help! Liverpool doesn't need another Beatles museum
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