I read The Fifth Beatle by Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson & Kyle Baker on the recommendation of my friend Clayton and boy am I forever grateful. The Fifth Beatle is the true untold true tale of Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager who spent his life busting his bum turning an ordinary group of boys from Liverpool into an international success story- bigger than Elvis Presley. Epstein wholeheartedly believed in The Beatles and he poured his soul into building their image and preparing for their success even before they had achieved it. If it weren’t for Epstein, we wouldn’t know of The Beatles, and we certainly wouldn’t be able to enjoy the legacy they’ve left behind to this very day. But while The Beatles’ story is well known, Epstein’s has remained a mystery to the general public until now. Ambitious, persistent, wildly successful, and empty are the best adjectives to describe Epstein. On the outside, he has it all, but his personal life is full of struggle. The Beatles are known for signing “Money Can’t Buy Me Love,” and after reading Tiwary, Robinson and Baker’s retelling of Epstein’s story, it seems like the song embodies some of his personal woes.
“Mythology is better and more fondly remembered than history. It’s more entertaining so we create legends rather than recount truths.”
The book uses a matador fighting to the death against bulls as a metaphor for every aspect of Epstein’s life. He spent his life fighting for success (for The Beatles, and several other entertainers), fighting stereotypes (being Jewish during an anti-Semitic time), fighting to find love (at a time when homosexuals were imprisoned in England because it was considered illegal), and never once losing the drive to succeed despite all the odds being against him. It explores his insecurities, his personal relationships, the evolution of his interaction with the band, his friendly meetings with the band’s lawyer, and his intriguing experiences with his peers in the entertainment industry. The artwork and colors evolve throughout the story to reflect Brian’s professional and emotional progression. The visual alterations from scene to scene offer a pleasing depiction of the changes Epstein is experiencing both internally and within society.
“Well the truth always gets outed. Eventually. Only when it becomes more sensational than the myth.”
I became so involved in the story that I read it in its entirety in one sitting. I even got teary eyed at the end which is a thing that rarely ever happens. One of my favorite lines is when the lawyer tells Epstein “if you weren’t so damn British, Brian, I’d say you were the American dream!” Arguably, the most important theme in Epstein’s story is love. The lack of love in his romantic life is largely responsible for igniting Brian’s need for professional fulfillment to accomplish things that had never even been dreamed of in the past. The irony of the story is that while Brian never found love himself, he made love possible for so many other people. Epstein left the world a better and brighter place than he found it. You can watch the book trailer for The Fifth Beatle here, and you can purchase your own hardcover copy or hardcover collector’s edition on Amazon or in your local comic book shop. And remember, love is all you need<3