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(Credit: Joop van Bilsen / Anefo)


The last time Brian Epstein visited a Beatles recording session


Even though he was most closely associated with shepherding The Beatles through their early mop-top era, Brian Epstein continued to manage the band through their evolution into psychedelia and experimentation. The man who insisted the group wear suits, bow on cue, and focus on hit singles was also open-minded enough to allow the young musicians to follow their muse, no matter how far out it took them.

When The Beatles decided to stop touring in 1966, Epstein’s primary duties as the organiser of the band’s hectic schedule began to change. No longer needing to plan the minute details of the world’s biggest pop group, Epstein turned his attention to other artists under his tutelage, like Gerry and the Pacemakers and Cilla Black. But he was always around The Beatles, helping them push forward.

One of Epstein’s philosophies concerning The Beatles involved not interfering in their creative process. He left the leadership in the studio to producer George Martin, and largely did not attend sessions. An exception came on August 23rd, 1967. Even though Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had been released just three months prior, The Beatles were back in the studio already beginning work on their next project. Epstein had organised the Our World telecast two months prior, and encouraged the band to stay busy now that they weren’t touring.

On this particular day, The Beatles were on the second pass of Paul McCartney’s music hall number ‘Your Mother Should Know’. McCartney originally pitched the song for the Our World broadcast, but it was turned down in favour of ‘All You Need is Love’. The group were in a new environment: Chappell Studios in London was used in place of the band’s traditional home of EMI Studios. The basic track was already completed, and the focus of the session now turned to overdubs.

According to engineer John Timperley, Epstein was in a particular dour mindset when he visited the band. “He came in to hear the playbacks looking extremely down and in a bad mood,” Timperley remembered in Mark Lewisohn’s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions. “He just stood at the back of the room listening, not saying much.”

Just five days later, Epstein experienced an accidental overdose of sedatives and sleeping pills. He was only 32 years old. In his place, McCartney began to take over managerial duties, including persuading the other members to focus on the Magical Mystery Tour film as a way to keep the band moving forward creatively.