gerry kramer

Brian’s Boys

A colourised picture of the famous ‘Brian’s Boys’ photos taken by Howard Walker on the 18th June 1963, in celebration of all the number one records the groups managed by Brian Epstein had achieved. The picture is from the book Retrographic: History’s Most Exciting Images Transformed Into Living Colour by Michael D. Carroll, published in September 2017. 

There never was a time like it for these boys. Just look at the joy in their smiles. So young and fresh-faced in their inexpensive suits and ties, sensible, unshowy haircuts and polished black shoes. […]

As for the fellow on the far right, watching over them like the proud tactician he was, it’s the man who made it all possible, manager Brian Epstein. He was just 28, but, in the eyes of his youthful proteges, practically middle-aged.

It was the summer of 1963 and a cultural earthquake was resetting the foundations of British popular music. And from being a place usually more associated with breeding comedians, the city of Liverpool had overnight become the capital of pop.

The Beatles had started it with No.1 hits From Me To You and She Loves You, but then right behind them came Gerry and the Pacemakers’ How Do You Do It? and I Like It — followed by Billy J Kramer’s Do You Want To Know A Secret? and Bad To Me.

Suddenly, it was cool to have a Scouse accent — whether or not you could sing.

Six months earlier, when these 13 young men were still following each other on stage at the tiny Cavern Club in Liverpool, to have imagined that such success could happen would have seemed lunatic.

The previous year, Brian Epstein had virtually to beg to get a record deal for The Beatles. And it was only when The Beatles defied London’s showbiz sneers and took off that he began to realise, and also to sign up, the depth of untapped talent on Merseyside — which came to be known as the Mersey Sound. […]

[B]ack then, consider Paul McCartney, only just turned 21, laughing as his pal Gerry Marsden grabs hold of him in mid-air.

How innocent they all look: how unaffected, how grateful to be alive and part of this extraordinary revolution of youth. Time, however, moves relentlessly on. For some in the photograph, fame would turn into a prison; for others, it would become a fleeting memory as the hits dried up.

And, for Brian Epstein it would be a death sentence. Just four years later he would die from a drugs overdose.

But right there on that summer’s day in Liverpool in 1963, there was confidence, camaraderie and the well-scrubbed optimism of youth. Those really were the days.

[Ray Connolly for The Daily Mail, 20th October 2017. Read the full article here.]

What happened to them?

Keep reading


21 JUNE 1963 ─ The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas with their manager Brian Epstein. Three of the most listened-to bands of the early 60s. Between them they sold 2,000,000 records in six months.

Even before ‘Love Me Do’ came out, Brian was saying that the Beatles would be bigger than Elvis. When he first played me the acetate of ‘Love Me Do’, he said that the Beatles would become a legend. I don’t believe he had the evidence at that time but he was absolutely right. He sensed that John and Paul had a songwriting talent that was far beyond anyone else’s, and he also felt that Gerry and the Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer would become important acts.
—  Brian Epstein’s younger brother, Clive (Love Me Do to Love Me Don’t: Beatles on Record by Spencer Leigh [2016])

Brian’s boys… 

Brian Epstein managed Merseybeat groups. Photo taken on 18th June 1963 by Howard Walker. 

(Top photo from L-R… I think…)

John, Ringo, George, Paul, [The Beatles] Gerry Marsden, Freddie Marsden, Les Chadwick and Les McGuire, [Gerry and the Pacemakers] Brian, Robin McDonald, Mike Maxfield, Billy J Kramer, Ray Jones and Tony Mansfield [Billy J Kramer and the Dokotas].

Top pic: Howard Walker
Bottom pic: Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo