Here in Liverpool, Brian Epstein’s name will always be most associated with The Beatles. But NEMS Enterprises Ltd. His management organisation looked after other artists, as well. Some of these are still around today.
From 1962 until his death at the age of 32 in 1967, Brian Epstein managed to accomplish quite a stable of artists.
|Photo of Gerry and the Pacemakers in 1964 |
taken by a New York photographer
Gerry and the Pacemakers were beat group prominent during the 1960s. In common with the Beatles, they came from Liverpool, were also signed up by Brian Epstein and were recorded by George Martin. Gerry Marsden formed the group in 1959 with his brother, Fred, Les Chadwick and Arthur McMahon. They rivalled the Beatles early in their career, playing in the same areas of Hamburg, Germany and Liverpool. McMahon (known as Arthur Mack) was replaced on piano by Les Maguire around 1961 Brian Epstein later signed them with Columbia Records). When Brian Epstein signed The Pacemakers he gave them the same treatment he’d given to The Beatles, putting them in identical suits and smartening up their stage presentation. They began recording in early 1963 with "How Do You Do It?” a song written by Mitch Murray, that Adam Faith had turned down and one that the Beatles chose not to release. The song was produced by George Martin and became a number one hit in the UK, the first by an Epstein Liverpool group to achieve this on all charts. Gerry and the Pacemakers' next two singles, Murray's "I Like It" and Rodgers and Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone", both also reached number one in the UK Singles Chart. "You'll Never Walk Alone" had been a favourite of Gerry Marsden's since seeing Carousel growing up. It quickly became the signature tune of Liverpool Football Club. The group narrowly missed a fourth consecutive number one when "I'm the One" was kept off the top spot for two weeks in February 1964 by fellow Liverpudlian's The Searchers "Needles and Pins". Gerry Marsden began writing most of their songs, including "I'm the One", "It's Gonna Be All Right" and "Ferry Cross the Mersey", as well as their first and biggest US hit, "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying", which peaked at No.4. By late 1965, their popularity was rapidly declining on both sides of the Atlantic. They disbanded in October 1966.
By 1963, Epstein had added more acts to his stable. He’d seen another Liverpudlian band — Billy Kramer and The Coasters, who opened for The Beatles, Epstein offered to be the group’s manager. Kramer was immediately interested.
“To be approached by somebody who was managing The Beatles was a big deal to me,” Kramer said.
|Billy J Kramer, Publicity Shot for |
"Its Gotta Last Forever"1965
Born William Howard Ashton in Bootle on 19 August 1943, he initially worked as an apprentice fitter for an engineering firm. The name Billy Kramer was a surname chosen at random from the telephone directory, and the middle initial, J was reportedly added at John Lennon's suggestion. Brian Epstein signed him up, but the Coasters refused to turn professional. Brian had to find another group to back Billy Kramer and eventually found The Dakotas who at the time were backing Pete Maclaine. He gave him a John Lennon/Paul McCartney composition to release as his first single. 'Do You Want To Know A Secret' it reached number two in the charts, another Lennon/McCartney song unrecorded by The Beatles, 'Bad To Me', hit number one, while a third, 'I'll Keep You Satisfied', managed number four. All were released in 1963, his first year as a professional performer. Although Epstein would have been happy for him to continue covering Lennon/McCartney creations, Kramer was conscious that his initial success drew heavily on that of The Beatles. Accordingly, after trawling through music publishers' catalogues, he decided to release the US composition 'Little Children' as his fourth single. Released in March 1964, it was his second and final number one hit, and also the only one of his singles to have an impact in America. He performed it, the B-side 'They Remind Me Of You' and his earlier hit 'I'll Keep You Satisfied' at the Wembley concert.
As the popularity of Merseybeat faded, so too did Kramer's, with only two more singles even charting, and those well below his earlier achievements. After splitting with his backing band The Dakotas, Kramer emigrated to the USA.
Epstein had gone through the usual routine with Kramer, putting him in a nice suit and steering him toward pop, rather than the rock Kramer preferred. Epstein persisted in this kind of image makeover for all his acts, The Big Three, another Liverpool group he signed frequently argued with Epstein over this issue. The Big Three evolved from a group called Cass and The Cassanovas, formed in May 1959 by Brian Casser as a trio comprising Casser (rhythm guitar, lead vocals), Adrian Barber (lead guitar, vocals), and Brian J. Hudson (drums). The original line-up played at St George's Hall, Liverpool, on Friday, 15 May 1959.
The group members were unhappy when a rough version of “Some Other Guy” was released as the band’s first single in 1963, although it made it into the Top 40, they felt they could have recorded it better. The Big Three didn’t like any of the songs Epstein suggested for subsequent records. The band soon split from Epstein, having reached no higher in the charts than No. 22 with “By The Way,” also released in 1963.
Cilla Black with Brian Epstein at a Variety Club
of Great Britain event
The following year 1964, was The Beatles’ breakthrough in America, and it was also the breakthrough year for another Epstein signing, Cilla Black. Cilla worked at The Cavern and occasionally she would get up on stage to sing. After being recommended by John Lennon, she auditioned for Epstein and failed. Nine months later, when Epstein saw her singing “Bye Bye Blackbird” at a club, he promptly signed her. Her first single, released in 1963, was Lennon-McCartney’s “Love of the Loved,” which reached No. 35. Then, in 1964, she topped the charts with “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “You’re My World.”
The Fourmost, formed in 1957 as a Merseybeat duo called The Two Jays, consisting of singer-guitarists Brian O'Hara and Joey Bower, but after adding bass guitarist Billy Hatton and drummer Brian Redman, they changed their name to The Four Jays in 1959. The group played at the Cavern Club in March 1961, nearly three weeks before The Beatles, and they changed their name to The Foremost in June 1962. The following June, the group signed a management pact with Epstein, which led to an audition with George Martin and signing to EMI's Parlophone label. Epstein provided the band with early Lennon-McCartney compositions. “I’m in love” (1963), one of the earliest Lennon-McCartney songs released in the U.S., and it went to No. 17 in the UK ... and "Hello little Girl" (1963), one of the first Lennon-McCartney songs, written in 1957, was a No. 9 hit in England.
The Remo Four, a rock band from Liverpool were enlisted by Epstein as backup musicians for one of his clients, vocalist Tommy Quickly, The Remo Four and The Beatles were among the regulars at the Cavern Club in 1961 and 1962. The Silkie, an English folk group known primarily for their 1965 rendition of "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" were signed by Epstein after an early 1965 appearance at The Cavern Club. Shortly thereafter Epstein appointed Alistair Taylor as their manager. "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" was a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and it was recorded with accompaniment and assistance by The Beatles.
Other Acts signed by Brian Epstein included,
Paddy Klause and Gibson,
Paddy Chambers (guitarist and vocalist), Klaus Voormann (bassist) and Gibson Kemp (drummer). Kemp had previously been with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes, replacing Ringo Starr, who left to join The Beatles. The trio was booked into the Pickwick nightclub where they were seen by Paul McCartney, who helped arrange their signing with Pye Records and persuaded Epstein to acquire them for his stable of artists.
A pop group that gained a reputation in the London area because of their sax-led instrumental sound. They backed Gene Vincent on his British tour and on his recordings in London. While performing in Hamburg, they met and befriended The Beatles and signed with Epstein. In 1964, they charted in the UK with two singles ("The Spartans" and "Spanish Harlem"), and later that year, became Cilla Black's backup band.
Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers
A 1 960s British R&B, soul and beat group who had Top 10 hits with "One Way Love" (No. 9 UK, 1964) and "Got To Get You Into My Life" (No. 6 UK, 1966). Group members included Bennett (vocals), Dave Peacock (lead guitar), Chas Hodges (keyboards), Mick Burt (drums) and Nicky Hopkins (piano). They were signed to a management contract by Epstein in 1964.
Tony Rivers and the Castaways
Tony Rivers recorded six singles for EMI between 1963 and 1966, but they failed to have a hit.
TV personality Godfrey Winn noticed his talent and recommended him to Epstein. Haslam's first single, "Gotta Get a Hold of Myself", was written by Clint Ballard Jr., but it failed to hit the charts.
Tommy was a Liverpool rock 'n' roll singer, he was spotted and signed by Epstein, although the Brian didn't like Quickly's backup group The Challengers, and he paired the singer with The Remo Four. Unfortunately the singles he released failed to chart, and when any success failed to come his way, he decided to retired from the music industry, leaving in 1965.
Don Dannemann, bass guitarist Tom Dawes, keyboardist Earl Pickens and drummer Marty Fried, all met at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. They were signed to Columbia Records and managed by Epstein.
Born James Marcus Smith in Houston, he was the other American act (along with The Cyrkle) in Epstein's stable. In the early '60s, he wrote songs and recorded demos for such artists as Elvis Presley and Bobby Vee. In late 1963, Proby was present when a TV special on The Beatles was being put together, and Epstein signed him after liking what he heard on a demo tape.
An English beat group with one major hit single, a cover rendition of "Poison Ivy" -- a Leiber-Stoller song that was a 1959 U.S. hit for The Coasters, that reached No. 35 on the UK chart. Their second and third singles ("Bad Blood" and "I'm the One who Loves You") both failed to chart. Lead singer Gary Brooker later founded Procol Harum.
There were other acts briefly signed by Epstein, Michael Haslam, whom Epstein first saw singing at the White Hart pub in Bolton was dropped after two singles. The Rustiks were signed after the group won a talent contest Epstein was judging, but the group failed to get off the ground.
Brian Epstein brought a sense of professionalism to the music scene that had previously been lacking. Musicians who never thought it was possible to have a career in music were given a chance. Although acts didn’t always achieve the success they desired, they were all given an opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise have had.
|Manager Brian Epstein, pictured with some of the groups he manages. These include, The Beatles, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas, This photograph was taken at Childwall Fiveways.|
Liverpool Central Library
Brian Epstein Web page
Robert F Edwards