Billy Kinsley of The Merseybeats, one of the original Merseybeat groups, who along with fellow band member Tony Crane, are two of the musicians involved in the effort to get a statue of Brian Epstein in Liverpool, tells Beatles Examiner his involvement came from the music of another Merseybeat veteran.
“The reason I got involved with the campaign was that I heard a track on Billy J Kramer’s new album whilst I was also working on another song for the same album. The track I heard was ‘Liverpool With Love,’ (from his album “I Won the Fight,”) which finished with the line ‘Why isn’t Brian Epstein In the Rock ‘n Roll Hall Of Fame?’ That was it! I thought why isn’t he? At the same time, Bob Pitt rang me to say he had a song he had written and dedicated to Brian Epstein, and had spoken to Billy J. and they both wanted to get involved with a statue of Brian in his home city Liverpool,” he said.
“I honestly believe that it was Brian Epstein who changed our city from being known throughout the world as a major British seaport to the home of The Beatles and many other British Invasion artists. This city has many statues from war heroes,politicians and, of course, The Beatles. Liverpool makes £80,000,000 each year through tourism and it is all from Brian Epstein’s complete belief back in 1962 that The Beatles would be bigger than Elvis Presley,” Kinsley says.
The Merseybeats were one of the original British Invasion groups. The B-side of their second single “I Think of You,” which was “Mister Moonlight,” was also recorded by the Beatles. “He (Brian) was laughed at by many people for that statement but how right he was. I think a ‘Statue for Eppy’ is the very least the city of Liverpool could and should do to honor one of their own. The U.S.A. now has him in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall Of Fame. It’s time he was recognised by his own country.”
Kinsley says the song features a long list of Liverpool names. “Who isn’t singing on it?,” he said. “There are too many Merseyside personalities on the chorus to mention but lead vocals are shared by Gary Christian, Ian McNab, Ian Prowse, Ray Ennis, Beryl Marsden, Andy McKlusky, Tony Crane, Tricia Penrose, Kenny Parry … the list goes on !!!”
What does Kinsley remember about Epstein? “My memories of Brian are that he was someone to look up to as a gentleman and a man of his word,” he says. “Watching him as he stood in the audience during a Beatles performance is one of my greatest memories. He was spellbound, as we all were, but he did something about it. He gave the world The Beatles. The biggest mistake that we ( The Merseybeats) ever made was leaving him because he bought The Beatles stage suits and the The Big Three stage suits. When he said we would have to wait for our suits, we thought he wasn’t serious about being our manager!! Thirty five years later we found that the Big Three had bought the cheapest suits in Liverpool and pocketed the rest of Brian’s money!!!
“It’s hard to believe we left N.E.M.s, but we were all teenagers at the time. We still remained friends and in fact we supported the Four Tops for him on their British tour in the Spring of 1967. Sadly this was to be Brian’s last promotion as he died later that year. During the tour we got on so well that Brian said he would like to be our manager again as in his opinion our managers (Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp) were spending all their time with The Who trying to make it in America.. Two weeks before he died he became our manager again.”
Bob Pitt, who conceived the idea for the musical tribute and wrote the song, said there is a website dedicated to the campaign with a donation button. “If every Beatles fan around the world just donated £1 or $1, we would have this statue in no time,” he said.