In My Life: The Brian Epstein Story Paperback – 1 Feb 2002
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There have been many rumours about Epstein's personal life, and since he lived as a closeted gay man who repressed his sexuality, rumours run rampant. This conduct of life, as well as having a mother who blindly ignored her son's reality by pushing seemingly eligible women his way, only led Epstein further into the closet. Such a way of life could only lead to risky rendezvous and The Brian Epstein Story does tell of blackmail attempts from former short-term boyfriends. Back in the 1960's, homosexuality was still illegal in the UK and it would have been scandalous had word got out that the Beatles' manager was homosexual. That Epstein also kept his Judaism under wraps, almost ashamed of it, cast his life under a heavier cloak of repression. His feelings of suffocation even led him to write his last will and testament at the age of 21. The will is reproduced in The Brian Epstein Story.Read more ›
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But despite the cheesy cover, I went ahead with my purchase & was not disappointed. One would think that just about every aspect of the Beatles has been absolutely covered and trampled to death. Then along comes Debbie Geller with this gem - the Brian Epstein angle has been an untapped vein up until this point. It's not so much a traditional book about her subject as it is an oral history. Geller's coup is to get Paul McCartney - among many other voices - to comment at length on Epstein's role with the group.
The book's main themes and premises, of which a strong case is made by all the book's participants:
1. There would be no Beatles without Epstein. During the very early sixties when they were no more than a crude band distinguished only by their Hamburg experience, Epstein's belief in 'his boys' was indefatigable. He created a new image for them, and sold that image - after much rejection - to London.
2. Epstein created rock and roll management and promotion as we know it today; it simply did not exist before he came along, & it is around today mainly in the guise that he created.
3. Epstein was a terribly complex and conflicted man. No one participating in this project makes the case that he was 'nice' or easy to get along with. In fact, he comes across as a holy terror at times. Jewish in a non-Jewish world, openly gay prior to any societal openness on that front, a manic-depressive (some posit) before a clinical diagnosis for such an afflication existed, addicted to various uppers and downers.
This was a terribly complex, troubled - but enormously gifted - man. To think that he fit all he did into 32 short years. Amazing.
Thank you Debbie Geller for honoring this blazing comet named Brian Espstein, who willed the Beatles into this world.
What Debbie Geller conveys so beautifully is that transition from a normal life to a life lived in the strange swirl of celebrity. And by "curating" the book, rather than writing it (ie, leaving it in the words of the people she and Wall interviewed for the documentary), Geller allows the protagists to remember Epstein - it makes for an impressionistic protrait of him: complex, contradictory, filled with incredible life.
I think it's great at filling in some holes in the Beatle mythology. Brian's talents are very fully explained. His weaknesses are, too. Therefore, for the first time, he comes across as a more complete person.
He was obviously ahead of his time in terms of the music business. His artists loved him and respected him, but they didn't fear him.
It's interesting that after all this time, there's still conflict about his demise--did he or didn't he kill himself. It reminds me a bit of the Michael Hutchence accidental/suicide death.
I like the style of the book--the oral history with additional explanation. It leaves the history to the people who were there.