Paul McCartney Said Manager Brian Epstein Made Some ‘Lousy’ and ‘Really Unjust’ Deals That Hurt The Beatles
Paul McCartney worked with Beatles manager Brian Epstein for years. Epstein helped lift The Beatles from relative obscurity to global fame. Still, McCartney felt his manager made some mistakes along the way. He explained why some of the deals Epstein made did not end up benefiting the band as they should have.
Paul McCartney said some of Brian Epstein’s business decisions hurt The Beatles
When The Beatles first started out, they desperately wanted a reputable record label to take them seriously. Epstein helped them achieve this.
“We were desperate to get a deal,” McCartney said in The Beatles Anthology. “It’s like any young novelist who just wants to be published. They would just die for Doubleday; they wouldn’t care what the deal was, so long as they could say to their friends, ‘Oh, my new book’s coming out on Doubleday.’ — ‘What, the real Doubleday?’ — ‘Yeah!’ So that’s all we wanted; to be published: ‘Our record’s coming out on EMI.’ — ‘What, the EMI?'”
Still, not all of these deals were good for The Beatles. McCartney pointed to his profits on “Yesterday” as an example.
“But Brian did do some lousy deals and he put us into long-term slave contracts which I am still dealing with,” he explained. “For ‘Yesterday,’ which I wrote totally on my own, without John’s or anyone’s help, I am on 15%. To this day I am only on 15% because of the deals Brian made, and that is really unjust, particularly as it has been such a smash. It is possibly the smash of this century.”
Still, McCartney acknowledged that there was no use feeling “bitter” about Epstein, even if he didn’t think he was “astute” enough.
The other Beatles agreed with Paul McCartney’s assessment of Brian Epstein
McCartney had a more complicated relationship with Epstein than the other Beatles, but they agreed with his assertion of their manager.
“Brian didn’t get very good deals on anything,” George Harrison said. “For years EMI were giving us one old penny between us for every single and two shillings for every album. And there was the fiasco where Brian’s father gave away the rights to The Beatles’ merchandising. His father didn’t have any authority to give away the rights, yet he gave them to some guy who gave them to somebody else, who gave them to somebody else.”
The band still felt lost after their manager’s death
Though The Beatles had some problems with Epstein, he helped them in many ways. When he unexpectedly died in 1967, the band mourned him. They also felt lost without him.
“I knew that we were in trouble then,” Lennon said (via History). “I didn’t really have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music. I was scared. I thought, ‘We’ve ****ing had it.'”
The band struggled to manage their business affairs before hiring Allen Klein as their new manager. Their fighting over Klein’s appointment was one of the factors that led to their breakup.