In 1965, the Beatles went to Buckingham Palace to receive their MBEs from Queen Elizabeth II. That’s Member of the British Empire for those of you who came in late. It’s the first level of awards, and had traditionally been given to businessfolk and supporters of the monarchy. But in 1965 it went to John, Paul, George and Ringo. McCartney and Harrison quipped, “Yeah, MBE stands for Mr. Brian Epstein!” Eppy was the businessman. Scion of a well-to-do store owner in Liverpool, he had drifted from school to school and job to job before moving into the family business managing the NEMS (North East Music Stores) record shop on Great Charlotte Street. He had hopes of a career in design or theatre, having studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts alongside Peter O’Toole and Susannah York. It was at the record shop, however, that his career was made.
Legend has it that a young fan dropped in one day looking for ‘that new record from The Beatles.’ It wasn’t in stock, so Epstein ordered it thinking the group was from Germany. It turned out the band was from Liverpool and they were playing not far from the store. Epstein stopped by for a listen, and ended up managing the biggest group the world had ever seen.