With a Little Help From His Friends

Late Beatles manager Brian Epstein back in the spotlight

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All you need is love -- and recognition. To wit, a series of new projects honoring "Fifth Beatle" Brian Epstein was announced today at New York City's Hard Rock Cafe.

Epstein, who died in 1967, is known among many of the Beatles producers, fans and friends as the man whose good taste and business acumen were largely responsible for the group's style and success. After the group disbanded in 1970, John Lennon said that without Epstein, the Beatles had "had it."

Capitalizing on that long-simmering appreciation, noted Beatles historian Martin Lewis is gathering support for what he has titled the MBE Campaign (Beatles' fans should remember the reference) to initiate Epstein into the non-performers section of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside seminal figures like Berry Gordy, Phil Spector and Dick Clark. The campaign coincides with the re-release this Thursday of Epstein's autobiography, A Cellarful of Noise: the Autobiography of the Man Who Made the Beatles, with a new introduction by Lewis. That date marks the anniversary of the Epstein-orchestrated world premiere of All You Need Is Love, which aired on June 25, 1967.

Renowned famous-person appreciator Robin Leach was on hand to kick off the festivities. "Brian Epstein was a monumental force in the music industry, far more than we realize," he said. "[This campaign] will bring some sadly needed recognition."

Also in the works is a two-hour TV documentary about Epstein by the BBC's "Arena," which will air on A&E later this year. "He was in the eye of a storm that was the Beatles," said show producer Anthony Wall. In the documentary, Paul McCartney goes on record calling Epstein the Fifth Beatle.

"If I don't speak up and other people who care about him don't speak up, no one's going to remember. That's the way it is with any unsung hero," says Lewis. "I will not stop until he is in the Hall of Fame."