This years International Beatleweek will be marked in Liverpool with the installation of a new statue of legendary Beatles manager Brian Epstein ahead of the 55th anniversary of his death on 27 August.
Epstein, who would have been 88, became The Beatles manager in 1961, after seeing them play in the Cavern Club. The venue was just a short walk from the NEMS Record Store, which Epstein managed, and which played a vital role in the city’s music history, along with that of The Beatles.
The statue, granted planning permission in February, will stand at the corner of Button Street and Whitechapel, following the first steps of Epstein’s journey to change the fortunes of both the Fab Four and himself. His five-year deal with the band saw them become more professional and guided them not simply to the top of the music charts but also into cultural history.
Born in Liverpool in 1934 to Jewish parents, Epstein also played a key role in the city’s wider music scene, nurturing artists including Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, The Moody Blues and The Chants. His work as a promoter was vital to the development of Merseybeat and Liverpool’s cultural reputation in the mid-60s. His commitment to the city, its music and culture has created a powerful legacy still felt today. His death in 1967 was seen as the beginning of the end for The Beatles, who would officially split up in 1970.
Although his sexuality was not publicly known until after his death, it was well known amongst his friends and business associates. As a gay man living at time when homosexuality was illegal, Epstein faced many personal challenges. This is the first statue of an LGBTQ+ figure in Liverpool city centre. Epstein was only 32 when he died and did not live to see the changes that could have impacted on his freedom to publicly express his sexuality (laws were changed a month after his death). An unsung LGBTQ+ icon, Epstein’s statue raises the importance of visibility and representation.
The Epstein statue is the latest addition to the city by sculptor Andy Edwards, also responsible for The Fab Four statue of John, Paul, George and Ringo at Liverpool’s Pier Head. He also sculpted Bob Marley on Jamaica Street, and co-sculpted the statue of Cilla Black in Mathew Street. The Epstein Statue will measure 1.94m and be cast from bronze by Castle Foundry of Liverpool.
The statue campaign has been led for the last 5 years by the Brian Epstein Legacy Project. It has been made possible after a successful public Crowdfunding campaign, funding from Bill Heckle at The Cavern and match funding from Liverpool BID company.
Meanwhile the McCartney Street signs, temporarily installed on Mathew Street to honor Paul’s 80th birthday in June, are to be auctioned for charity. The signs will be included in a live auction as part of Beatleweek takes place annually, curated by The Beatles Shop and Cato Crane Auctioneers. The signs have been donated by Liverpool BID Company with all proceeds to be split between the Lord Mayor’s Charities. The auction will take place on the 27th August at 10am. Another of the signs has been donated for public display at the Liverpool Beatles Museum.
Tom Calderbank is Project Manager of The Brian Epstein Legacy Project:
“On behalf of the committee which has worked so hard to achieve this goal, we would like to thank every single person and organisation who has supported us on our 5 year journey. We are absolutely delighted to see this finally come to fruition. We feel Brian really deserves this honour, his impact on the world of music, art and culture was – and continues to be – overwhelmingly positive, and we believe our debt to him as a city is incalculable. We hope this lasting tribute to his legacy is worthy of the man and his achievements, and that people take this wonderful addition to our public realm to their hearts.”
Bill Addy is CEO of Liverpool BID Company:
“The Cavern Quarter becomes such a hive of activity during International Beatle Week and we are delighted the Epstein statue is going to be ready for installation to coincide with the celebrations. Our operations team has been sprucing up the quarter, with targeted street cleansing, new signage and more to make it ready for our international visitors.
“People will also be able to see the new SMUG mural, on Hartington Street, which was unveiled in July and references the neighbourhood’s famous ‘Pool of Life’. This is one of the oldest commercial districts in Liverpool city centre, once home to an iron foundry, brewery and mills. Through the Retail & Leisure BID we are working to enhance the neighbourhood, bringing in public art to celebrate its cultural history and make it a place for businesses to thrive”.