The Beatles’ Manager Had to Split Up the Band on Vacations to Avoid ‘Clashing’

In the early 1960s, The Beatles hired their manager, Brian Epstein, and, with his help, became one of the biggest bands in the world. He didn’t just deal with their music-related affairs; according to the band and those who knew them, Epstein took charge of most aspects of their lives. He helped them find houses, accompanied them on dates, and planned their vacations. Pattie Boyd, George Harrison’s first wife, said Epstein had to split them up on vacation to avoid arguments.

A black and white picture of The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein and the band holding suitcases.
Brian Epstein and The Beatles | Cummings Archives/Redferns

The Beatles’ manager controlled most elements of their lives

Epstein was involved with practically every part of The Beatles’ lives. He accompanied Harrison and Boyd on their first date, and, later, Harrison asked him for permission to propose. They didn’t mind this, though. According to Boyd, Epstein showed the band the finer things in life and made them more sophisticated

“Brian changed things for all of the Beatles, taught them more sophisticated ways,” Boyd wrote in the book Wonderful Tonight. “He came from Liverpool too, but a smart area — his parents owned a well-established furniture shop in which he had opened a music department, called NEMS, North End Music Store — and had been privately educated. He was also older than they were — twenty-seven when he started managing them — and more experienced in the ways of the world.”

He split them up when they went on vacation together 

Epstein also planned some much-needed vacations in between the band’s packed touring and recording schedule. They didn’t all travel together, though.

“In May Brian arranged a holiday for us all,” Boyd wrote. “He split us up into fours, and that was usually the way we holidayed from then on. Paul and Jane, Ringo and Maureen went off to the Virgin Islands, while John and Cynthia, George and I went to Tahiti, where we planned to spend four weeks island-hopping on a boat.” 

The setup helped avoid arguments, particularly between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. 

“It was a good way to split the group,” she explained. “John and Paul were the closest in some ways and immensely creative together, but they clashed if they were in each other’s pockets for too long.” 

The clashing between Lennon and McCartney couldn’t be entirely avoided, though. Infighting among the band members was one of the reasons The Beatles broke up in 1970.

Paul McCartney said The Beatles felt lost without their manager

In 1967, Epstein died of an accidental drug overdose. While the band remained together for several more years, they said his death changed everything for them.

“I mean, we’ve been very negative since Mr. Epstein passed away,” McCartney said in the documentary series The Beatles: Get Back. “And that’s why all of us, in turn, have been sick of the group. It’s [the] discipline we lack. We’ve never had discipline. We’ve had a sort of slight, symbolic discipline. Like Mr. Epstein.” 

They suddenly felt like they were on their own.

“You know, and he sort of said, ‘get suits on’ and we did… we were always fighting that discipline a bit,” McCartney explained. “There really is no one there now to say ‘do it.’ Whereas there always used to be. Daddy’s gone away now, and we’re on our own at the holiday camp.”

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