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25th February, 2022

LGBT+ History Month: Brian Epstein honoured with statue in hometown Liverpool

The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein is set to be immortalised with a statue in his hometown of Liverpool. The announcement was made in February, the UK’s dedicated LGBT+ History Month. The perfect time to celebrate one of music’s greatest gay icons!


 

The Epstein statue by Andy Edwards and Jane Robbins.

 

The statue, which is set to be located near the site of the Epstein family’s former record shop NEMS, will be the first to depict an LGBT+ figure in the city centre of Liverpool. Brian Epstein lived at a time when homosexuality was illegal, and because of this he kept his sexuality a secret from the public. Brian sadly passed away just weeks after the bill to partially legalise homosexuality in the UK received royal assent in the July of 1967.


Speaking to The Beatles Story, Tom Calderbank, Project Manager of the Brian Epstein Legacy Project (the committee responsible for Epstein's statue), said "We hope the LGBTQ+ community, in particular, take this work to their hearts. Representation in public art is incredibly important; who gets honoured with a statue and why. This is deeply contentious, as we’ve seen around the world in recent years. As a great man almost said: ‘most of my heroes don’t appear on no statues’. Well, this time, they do. Every single statue says something about the culture in which it finds itself. I hope that what this one says about Liverpool is that it is a place that values its culture, honours excellence in her citizens, and is somewhere that is welcoming and inclusive of everybody, regardless of their sexuality, with wide open arms. We hope it expresses our higher values: Truth, Love, Courage and Beauty." 

 

Replica of the Epstein family’s record shop NEMS at The Beatles Story


Brian Epstein’s contributions to The Beatles, and to Liverpool as a whole, cannot be understated. When he discovered the Fab Four back in 1961 he instantly saw the potential in their talents and personalities, and was instrumental in branding them as the band we know and love still to this day. Vivek J. Tiwary, writing for The Beatles Story in 2017, explained that Brian “spent his entire adult life introducing The Beatles to a global audience and helping them spread their message of love around the world.”


"Brian really deserves this sculptural tribute. He was one of the outstanding figures of 20th Century culture, playing a key role in the development of Merseybeat and managing a number of important acts, including The Beatles. The fact that there is a biopic about him currently in production (‘Midas Man’) as well as an animated TV series (Vivek Tiwary’s ’The Fifth Beatle’) illustrates his importance, as well as how timely our statue will be. There are over 70 statues of The Beatles, but there’ll only be one of Brian. Here, in Liverpool." - Tom Calderbank, Project Manager for the Brian Epstein Legacy Project.


In 2014, Brian’s contributions to the world of music were recognised when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, together with Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. The two became the first managers to be awarded the honour. Musician, manager and producer Peter Asher inducted Epstein and Oldham, and said "I knew Brian. He was a man of impeccable honesty and exceptional charm and intelligence, and he took his responsibilities extremely seriously. His biggest fear was of ever letting the Beatles down in any way whatsoever. He cared very deeply about every detail.”


Paul McCartney quote, pictured at The Beatles Story

 

Holly Tessler, Programme Leader of MA The Beatles at the University of Liverpool, provided the following: “Brian Epstein was critical to the Beatles' early success.  He had the innate ability to see the Beatles not just as a Beat group but as musicians and entertainers who could have global appeal.  As such, he is in a very real sense fundamental to creating music industry infrastructure and practices that are still in use today.  By all accounts he was an intelligent, articulate and loyal man who worked tirelessly to ensure the Beatles' success and wellbeing, often at the expense of his own.  The pressures upon Brian were of course compounded by the fact he was a gay man in a period of time where homosexuality was illegal in the UK.  Being unable to openly express his sexuality, of needing to remain 'in the closet' whilst he and the Beatles were under the constant scrutiny of the world's media must have been unbearable for him.  The new Brian Epstein statue in Liverpool is such a meaningful commemoration to him for at least two reasons: first, it is a public acknowledgement of the music industry practices he innovated, which benefited not only the Beatles and the other musicians he managed, but also helped the city of Liverpool to establish itself as a hub of music and creativity; and second, it is public affirmation and acceptance of something he would never see in his lifetime, which is the freedom to openly express and celebrate all genders and sexual identities.

 

Jane Robbins, who co-sculpted the tribute, told the BBC that Sir Paul McCartney was “delighted” with the statue, and described it as “dead good.” Robbins, who is cousin to Paul McCartney, co-sculpted the piece with its designer Andy Edwards – who was also behind the Pier Head Beatles statues and Mathew Street’s homage to Cilla Black.


Tom Calderbank hints at an exciting future for the Brian Epstein Legacy Project: "Phase 2 will see the launch and development of a musical instrument library to bring creative opportunities to young people in the Liverpool City Region. So Brian’s legacy of nurturing musical talent will continue. This is not to find the next Beatles (as if!), more about bringing opportunities for musical creativity to this and future generations. We're also working with partners in LIPA and the Iowa Rock and Roll Music Association to bring new academic opportunities in Brian’s name. There’s a Phase 3, but I’ll tell you about it another time." 

 

The Beatles Story has acquired Andy Edwards’ miniature maquette of the Epstein statue, with plans to display it in our exhibition from September 2022. Follow us on social media for updates!

 

Epstein maquette at The Beatles Story.

Mason Griffiths

Mason is the Marketing and PR Executive at The Beatles Story.

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