Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 19 Sep. '34, Liverpool; d 26--7 Aug. '67, London) Managed Beatles, other Merseyside acts: Billy J. Kramer, Cilla Black, Gerry and the Pacemakers etc. From prosperous family, little taste for pop music; managed record dept of family furniture business. Asked by customers for early Beatles disc on Polydor, intrigued to find they were local group, heard them at Cavern Club 21 Aug. '61 and was fascinated. Smartened up their act, taught them reliability, sacked drummer Pete Best for Ringo Starr, got Parlophone contract. Meticulous and a good manager in the early days but out of his depth in the world of big money, his worst mistake was letting US rights to Beatles merchandise go for almost nothing, which made enemies. A homosexual with an unhappy love life, reportedly in love with John Lennon and perhaps losing control of the Beatles (whose contract was soon to expire), he was heavily into drugs, especially sleeping pills, and died suddenly, probably of an accidental cumulative overdose. The Beatles had teased him unmercifully but Lennon said they would never have made it without him. Published autobiography A Cellar Full Of Noise '64.