Sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, Brian Epstein drew his last breath.

According to The Beatles Bible,

An inquest found the cause of death to be accidental, resulting from “incautious self-overdoses” of Carbrital, a drug taken to assist sleep.

Noted forensic scientist Paul McCartney agrees:

So he had a few bevvies, then to console himself had a sleeping pill or two before [going] to bed. Brian always did that, he was quite into the pills. And then I think he woke up in the middle of the night and thought: “My God, I can’t sleep. I haven’t had a pill.” Then he had a few more pills, and I think that could have killed him.

As does his colleague George Harrison:

In those days everybody was topping themselves accidentally by taking uppers and/or amphetamine and alcohol – loads of whiskey or brandy and uppers…that’s the kind of thing that Brian did.

Epstein’s body was discovered by his housekeepers on Sunday afternoon. Soon after, Paul got a phone call in Bangor, where The Beatles were completing their weekend of transcendental meditation training with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. “I’m afraid I’ve got bad news,” Epstein’s friend Peter Brown told him. “Brian has died.”

Shocked and unsure how to react, The Beatles turned to the Maharishi,

who was holding court in his inner sanctum amid piles of wilting flowers. “Our friend’s dead,” they told him. “How do we handle this?” Because Hindu theology dictates that mortals not focus on death but in the transcendence of the spirit – the soul’s moving on to another plane – the Maharishi disdained any comments  about Brian’s physical death. Instead, as Ringo remembered, he advised them to not try holding on to Brian, “to love him and let him go,” so that his soul could continue on its upward journey. (The Beatles, Bob Spitz)

It was in this spirit that John Lennon commented at the press conference held later that day,

Well, Brian is just passing into the next phase. His spirit is still around and always will be.

Which apparently confused some members of the press, who were not accustomed to hearing such mystical discourse from rock stars. John later admitted that under his philosophical facade, he was privately thinking “We’ve fuckin’ had it.” (When saying that to yourself, remember to pronounce the key word in the Liverpudlian manner: “fookin.”)

This was not exactly true. The Beatles managed to carry on quite successfully, if ever more chaotically. But Brian Epstein was missed, to be sure.

That night Jimi Hendrix was scheduled to play two shows at the Saville Theatre, where the marquee read “Brian Epstein Presents.” But just as the doors were about to open for the second performance, word arrived of Epstein’s demise. According to Tony Bramwell, who booked acts for the Saville,

We thought it wouldn’t be right to carry on with the show, so Eric Burdon, who had stopped by to watch Jimi, went out into the street and told the crowd that the show was cancelled, Brian Epstein was dead…. The kids put their heads down and walked off in absolute silence.




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