Cilla Black today honoured “fifth Beatle” Brian Epstein – the man who set her on the path to fame.
Former chart star, turned TV host, Black unveiled a plaque to mark the location of her former manager’s London office in Covent Garden.
Epstein, who guided the career of the Beatles until his death in 1967, ran his NEMS company from 13 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials, after relocating from Liverpool in 1963.
The impresario was behind a number of acts, including Gerry And The Pacemakers, and guided Black’s career after she was introduced to him by John Lennon.
The London office was also for many years the base for the Beatles fan club.
Black said today: “He was a great man, the man that I knew – he was a true gentleman.
“He believed in me and I certainly believed in him. If he had said ‘you can climb Mount Everest’, I would have said ‘where’s my backpack? I’m off’. I really would, because I believed in him.”
As she unveiled the plaque, the former Blind Date presenter said she had longed to see his contribution recognised.
“I wrote to Paul McCartney a couple of years ago because I think Brian should be honoured in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in America. That’s what I want,” she added.
Epstein, who died at the age of 32 following an accidental overdose of sleeping pills, was godfather to Lennon and his first wife Cynthia’s son Julian.
Cynthia Lennon said: “Brian Epstein was a true gentleman of the first order. He was instrumental in changing all our lives with his vision, generosity and dedication. Brian was truly the fifth Beatle and godfather to my/our son Julian, and a real friend during the heady, frenzied years of the 60s. He brought culture to our gauche young lives with an experience beyond his years. I miss him now as much as I missed him then. His tragic death for one so young was a massive loss to all who knew and loved him. It is with great respect that I write these words for a young man who had so much to offer and in his short life, DID.”
George Martin said: “Brian was a wonderful man and we became great friends. It was his unwavering belief in The Beatles that influenced me and formed a special bond of trust that propelled the band to worldwide stardom. Over a short number of years, his energy and devotion allowed him to build an artist roster of unparalleled success. He was taken from us all too quickly, but thankfully, the legacy of the music he worked on will live forever.”
The plaque has been installed by the Seven Dials Trust, which aims to protect and enhance the conservation area.