204 Skeffington Road ,
Preston PR1 6RX
7th July 2020
Mr T. Beattie
The Crane Building
22 Lavington Street
London SE1 0NZ
Dear Mr Beattie,
I see from the newspapers that you are producing a film about the life of Brian Epstein. I was a close friend of Brian's, and was devastated by his untimely death, and very suspicious of the circumstances surrounding it. I used to own several clubs in the North West, and attached is a short extract from Chapter 7 my forthcoming book Clive Alive, which may be of interest (there are, of course, several other references to Brian in the book).
Brian was a good friend and is still sorely missed. If I can be of any assistance in filling in details of Brian's life during this period, I would be happy to oblige.
Extract from Chapter 7 of Clive Alive:
Brian Epstein was then a young man in search of an identity. He would spend hours on end just sitting in the corner of the club, watching and learning the ways of the young people. He came from a very wealthy Liverpudlian family which owned most of the music shops in and around the North of England. The businesses were run by Brian's brother Clive and were known as 'NEMS' music. Brian told me that his family were ashamed of him as he was a homosexual and preferred to pay him a substantial allowance to keep out of the way. I first met Brian at the 'Catacombs' in Preston where he loved to listen to the groups. He had just finished a course at R.A.D.A. but as he said, "I just don't have the confidence". He was a very shy sort of person but a perfect gentleman, which made him a sort of 'oddball' in that rough-and-ready environment. As time passed by and we got to know each other better, he told me of his desire to break into show business as a disc jockey, so I let him practice in the club. It was here that he first heard of The Beatles. As Allan was my partner, he knew that I had told Brian that things were not working out for them.
We had just returned from Hamburg. Allan and I had gone there to see how The Beatles were doing. You see Allan had sent out many Rock & Roll bands to play in the Kaiserkeller club on the Reperbahn. This was the newest top international rock venue in Europe and the most important training ground for the new up and coming music boom known as the Mersey Sound. The Beatles were, in those days, still the least impressive of our groups. Rory was then 'Mr Showman'. He was the biggest thing that Butlins holiday camps in England had ever known. I remember reading his name in lights above the door of the Kaiserkeller club. "Rory Storm, straight from a successful season at Butlins, England". What a laugh!
The Beatles were at that time newcomers to the German scene and they were playing at a dirty dingy little club around the corner. It was a strip club called the Indra. They all lived in one small room backstage. There was no hot water and all they had were five camp beds on which to lay their weary heads. They were fed up with the German scene. It was because of those hardships and frustrations, that Stuart left the group. He fell in love with one of the local girls by the name of Astrid. She offered him the comfort of her flat and so he said goodbye to the boys and left. He remained good friends of The Beatles though and became a well-known artist. He had always been a good painter and now he had time to practice his art. As fate would have it, the next time I went to visit Hamburg, Astrid told me that Stuart had died of a brain tumour.
Brian Epstein was all ears to hear of The Beatles. He would repeat over and over to himself, "such magnetic personalities these boys have". He was absolutely hypnotised by them. I told him that their only weakness was the drummer Pete Best, and that Ringo Starr, who was playing with Rory at the Kaiserkeller, was just the man. If he could get Ringo together with John, Paul & George, then he had a sure-fire winner. It was then that Brian decided that he would be the 'fifth' Beatle so to speak. He would be their manager. On their return to Liverpool, Brian was waiting to offer them stardom. He had the money and the connections to get them a recording contract. On hearing this news, Ringo did not hesitate to join them.
Brian kept me informed of all the developments and I often accompanied him to the television stations to appear in 'Top of the Pops' and other rock programmes. He asked me to keep him notified of other groups and artists that he could manage. I introduced him to Gerry and the Pacemakers, and to Cilla Black who was helping us out serving coffees at the CubiKlub. But we asked Cilla to keep quiet about that because Brian was visiting me late at night after the club was closed, and he wanted to avoid people knowing that he was gay.
One night Brian came to visit me. He was terribly sad with tears in his eyes. He told me that John Lennon had hit him in the face. I did not ask why, as I guessed the obvious. Brian was, as I have previously mentioned, a homosexual and on several occasions he tried to kiss me but I was honest and told him straight, that I liked him as a person but not as a lover. From then on he treated me as a true friend. I consoled Brian and took him home with me. He stayed in hiding at my place for a week until his black eye was back to normal. I tried to find John for several nights until eventually I decided to wait outside his flat. He came home about three in the morning and I talked him into coming round to my house with me to see Brian. He did come with me and they made it up. A mutual understanding was agreed - "Hands off mate, don't finger the merchandise".
On the fifth of October nineteen sixty two, the Beatles led by Brian released 'Love Me Do'. Brian arranged for all the records to be bought up. He sent out 'envoys' all over the country to buy records. He invested a small fortune in his scheme but it worked out for him. They would return with arms full of records, which Brian stored in my flat for a few weeks. There seemed to be thousands of them. Dealers were visiting and buying from record shops all over the place. If a record sells fast and in extra large quantities, then, of course, it moves up the charts, and 'Love Me Do' did just that. It became Brian's first bestseller. I asked him what he was going to do with all the records in my flat and he said that he had an outlet - and time. I cannot say how he got rid of them as it would involve slander on other people. I was later to learn that 'Payola', as they say in the business, was the term for arranging a chart entry record and was not uncommon in those days.
Brian took on more artists and I had to tell him to store his records somewhere else as I was running out of rooms. One day my milkman was waiting on my doorstep when I returned home from the club at five in the morning. He told me that he had a cellar that would be a perfect place to open up a club. I went to see it straight away and agreed to open it up as a club with the milkman as fifty percent partner. He supplied the property and I supplied the know-how. Three weeks later we inaugurated the 'Witches Cauldron' coffee club. Ringo helped me decorate the place and he and Rory played on the opening night.