In the years from 1958 to 1960, I worked for WH Smith's newsagents in the kiosk at the entrance to Central Station. One of our regular customers was a handsome, well dressed and well spoken young man. He had an order 'put away for him' each weekend, consisting of all of the music magazines of the time, 'Record Mirror, NME, Melody Maker' etc and 'The Stage' the publication for the theatrical profession. Being a fan of rock'n'roll and Country Music myself, I bought lots of records from the shop in Gt Charlotte Street where I discovered that this young man worked. Later I found out that his family owned that shop and other shops in Liverpool. In those days you could go into the 'Listening Booth' to hear any record that you might want to buy as a result of doing so. The songs always sounded much better in the 'echo chamber' effect of the booth than when played on the 'Dansette' record player when you got them home. There were several pretty girls working in the shop too and they would smile approvingly if you were buying an Elvis Presley or an Eddie Cochran record!
The young man's name, of course, was Brian Epstein. We became friendly and he would tell me what new records were in stock that week and I would dutifully go in and listen to them. Brian often wore a cravat and he looked very sophisticated. I once told him I had a 'date' with a girl and wondered where could I buy a cravat like the one he wore. He offered to lend me one!
Afterwards I returned it to him with thanks. If only I'd kept it and bought him a new one, I'd have had a piece of history!
In 1960 I left WH Smith's and went to work on the buses, while continuing to buy records in NEMS including many artists such as Don Gibson, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty, Jerry Lee Lewis along with a myriad of lesser names and 'one hit wonders.'
One of the musical highlights of that year for me was seeing Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent live onstage in March in Liverpool, just before the accident that took Eddie's life. I saw Brian occasionally in town and he always said hello, but in 1961 he would visit 'The Cavern' to see 'The Beatles' and the history of popular music would change forever.


Brian Epstein was a friend of mine
Yeah, yeah, yeah, they all say that
It's true! I can tell you about the time
When he lent me his favourite cravat!
Brian Epstein was a friend of mine
Yeah, yeah, yeah, they all say that

Hello Brian. Is it really forty years since you went away?
Standing here close to your graveside, wondering what to say
I can still see you smiling, when I asked for a record to play-
there in NEMS in the listening booth-
where I first heard three chords and the truth-
and instead of forty years it seems like-

(C) Brian O'Connell



By Briant Briant

This story was added on 16th May 2011

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