Today Beatles manager Brian Epstein was hospitalized in London after overdosing on prescription drugs. “It is believed,” says The Beatles Bible, “that this overdose was accidental.”

Even so, as we are all aware, Epstein was not long for this world. Always a troubled man, he seems to have been further destabilized by The Beatles’ decision to quit touring. He believed that he had outlived his usefulness — a belief that was manifestly false, given the chaos that reigned in the Beatles camp after his demise. But depressed people are always ready to believe the worst about themselves.

The decline of Brian Epstein is a long and sad story, one that it is perhaps premature to get into here. As is well-documented, Epstein was a gay man in a world that was not ready to accept that, which was surely a factor in his emotional difficulties. In the end, it’s impossible to parse what leads a person down the road to self-destruction; all we can do is shake our heads sadly and hope that we as a culture have learned something in the last 50 years.

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