How did Brian Epstein ‘discover” the Beatles?

Topics: The Beatles

It’s hard for me to imagine that an iconic group like the Beatles was once obscure and playing nightclub gigs in Germany. Dettmar takes us on the journey of the revolving door of band members until the “fab four” united in Paul, John, George, and Ringo. (Personally, George Harrison has always been my favorite.) The Beatles though wouldn’t be out of the obscure range until 1961 when Brian Epstein, son of a music shop owner had a flair for business and finding exactly what the customer wanted, no matter how little known or fringe quality the music (Dettmar, pg.

95). This ability is how Brian Epstein went to see the Beatles and was able to not only become their manager (Dettmar, pg. 95) but make them the original “fab four” the iconic musicians we know today.

So how did Mr. Epstein accomplish something so phenomenal in music history? Well, he didn’t just manage the Beatles. He acted as a one-man public relations agency too.

He realized that the “greaser” 1950s look, wasn’t appropriate anymore, the guys needed a cleaner, more professional appearance (Dettmar, pg. 95) – think “mop-top” haircuts and coordinated suits that have been all the rage with boy bands ever since. He made them more appealable by cleaning up not just their image but their language and manners too. No swearing, no smoking on stage was his new mantra to them and it was a windfall in getting them popular across the generations (Dettmar, pg. 95). Finally, Brian Epstein knowing that many record labels had turned the group down (remember they weren’t famous but they were known before Epstein came along) Brian decided to go with a smaller record label named Parlophone Records (Dettmar, pg.

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295). This record label is what we might refer to as an “Indie Label” today. It was small, having mostly a niche catalog of music (Dettmar, pg. 95). This was good because the Beatles wouldn’t have to go up against bigger and more famous musicians on a more famous recording label. They wouldn’t have to be another rubber-stamped 60’s band; instead, they were able to place their signature upon their music. This is how Brian Epstein “discovered” the Beatles.

Mr. Epstein died in 1967 of a drug overdose according to the text’s author Mr. Dettmar (Dettmar, pg. 95). After reading about him, it has become apparent that as a(n) appreciator of Beatles music I owe a lot to him when it comes to the iconology of the Beatles and their music.

The second question for Unit 6 of Dettmar’s “Think Rock” I want to answer is: What is a power chord?

I am a child of the “hair band 1980s and the “Seattle Grunge” of the early 1990s. Immediately, thinking of power chords I imagine Metallica’s intro of their song “Sandman” and Guns & Roses’s intro to their song “Sweet Child O’ Mine” blasting on the boom box and my Walkman as I sit in the backyard watching “My So-Called Life” with Clair Danes and MTV VJs party down in Daytona Beach, Florida for spring break. (I miss those days so much). Dettmar in the text reveals that those awesome/tubular power chords we all “head – banged” over were a much older invention going back to music’s “British Invasion” of the 1960s (Dettmar, pg. 100).

In September of 1964, a song by the band named the Kinks entered the U.S. Top Ten music charts a song entitled, “You Got” (Dettmar, pg. 100). It had something that would become more and more prevalent as music went on, and that was a technique known as the Power Chord. Dettmar defines a Power Chord as the following:

“. . .A chord containing only the root and fifth of the chord. . .” (Dettmar, pg. 100).

Now as a piano player this wouldn’t be a true chord for me and Dettmar states the same,

“. . .not technically a chord because it contains only two notes instead of three. . .” (Dettmar, pg. 100).

So, how did the Power Chord make up this missing note and gain the title of the chord? The power chord was developed by the Guitarist in the band named Dave Davies. Dave Davies like many musicians throughout time used different, experimental ways to invent new types of sounds (Dettmar, pg. 100). He came up with a technique for the electric guitar known as Distortion. This new technique made up for the missing note in the chord.

So what is Distortion according to Dettmar in the text? Dettmar states:

“. . .effect created on an electric guitar when an amplifier’s voltage exceeds its maximum power capability, clipping the input signal. . .” (Dettmar, pgs. 100, 108).

Speaking it translates, in my musical knowledge, as using a sound effect to make a new note in a chord and thus create a power chord. It isn’t a sound unto its own but a sound that becomes a note, which in turn completes a missing part of the Power Chord (Dettmar, pg. 100).

I have to thank Mr. Davies for inventing this new chord and technique. I never would have been in all my 80s and 90s glory when it came to my music preferences without it. I never would have been able to go through my ripped jeans and flannel shirt phase if the bands I liked hadn’t used these chords and techniques to further my appreciation of music. Mostly, would never have gotten to terrorize my parents just like the teenagers did to their parents in every decade past.

(P.S. I know my answers to these questions aren’t usually this long but I finally got organized and want to as they say “up my game”. Thank you.)

Works Cited

  1. Dettmar, K. (2011). Think rock. Boston: Pearson, pp.100, 108.

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How did Brian Epstein ‘discover” the Beatles?. (2022, Apr 29). Retrieved from

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