(4/19/06 6:38 am)
Thanks so much for reading that book, Josh! Actually, the same book — which is the text version of the BBC Arena 1999 BAFTA-Award-winning documentary by Debbie Geller and Anthony Wall "The Brian Epstein Story
" — has been published under two different titles: In My Life:The Brian Epstein Story
and The Brian Epstein Story
To help round out the understanding of the enigma who was Brian Epstein, the other book to read would be Ray Coleman's The Man Who Made The Beatles.
(sometimes you can find it on eBay at quite a good price).
As to your question, in my opinion, it's really dumb to think that anyone would commit suicide gradually, over a period of at least three days, by (for him) slightly overdosing numerous times. He didn't die from a large amount of Carbitral. What killed him was an amount that, ever so slightly, nudged him over the edge.
He had a zillion plans in place that he was working on. He was in the middle of working on papers and his mail, found beside him. He had several pill bottles at bedside, with caps on them, with pills still in them. The note, that was found much later, was quite an old one from months earlier that was stuck away and forgotten. Does that sound like a suicide to you?
He was happy and excited about the great things that were moving forward in his life. His "daughter" Cilla was getting her own TV series! The documents carrying his final signature were found on the bed with his body.
Nat Weiss, acting as HIS manager, was guiding him in launching a new career of his own, as a presenter to begin with, starting in Canada in a couple of weeks. This career was expected to be only the beginning of Brian Epstein, actor and celebrity in his own right!
Sure, the new contract with his Boys was up for renewal, and, chances were, his managerial percentage would be cut to reflect his cut in duties since touring ended — but he continued to see to their every need and coddled them as he always did. No other manager could even begin to be the father/mother/friend to them that he was, and they realized this, and he knew that they knew it. Just as they knew when he died (as Lennon verbalized it), "The Beatles" was a dead group walking.
The biggest reason that it was unlikely he killed himself was the fact his father had died just a few weeks earlier, and his mother relied on Brian in a way she could not rely on anyone else. Queenie needed him as never before. Brian was her rock, in the same way that Clive was Harry's golden son. There was no way on earth, no way he would have purposely left his mother like that.
The depressive cycle of his bipolar disorder would bring on the suicidal feelings, but he worked them through in various ways, such as calling his friends and saying he was ending it all (source: Alistair Taylor's books). Then, when they rushed over, he'd be sitting there doing paperwork or reading a book, acting like, "What?"
The notes were another way of working through those suicidal feelings. The one that Joanne (Newfield) Petersen found and unfortunately turned over to Peter Brown - who used it to his disgraceful advantage in The Love You Make
— which the abysmal Albert Goldman picked up on and took many steps further with his trashy book The Lives of John Lennon
— this note was (IMHO) never meant to have been seen because it was stuck away in the pages of a book for months. I'm sure Brian forgot about it.
Quite often with Brian Epstein, all the world was a stage, and he was fond of staging little melodramatic "events" in his life.
There also was a part of Brian that was addicted to tempting fate and courting danger. He got some kind of a vicarious thrill from imagining getting as close to death as possible - that's one reason he idolized bullfighters so much. To him they were the embodiment of the flamboyant man who cheats the grim reaper.
His proclivity for rough trade and the occasional careless use of potentially lethal drugs fit into that pushing-the-envelope personality quirk. He was addicted more than anything to his own adrenaline.
It speaks volumes to me that, at the couple of times he actually did seem to attempt suicide, he made certain that there were people who would be there to rescue him in the nick of time. If he had meant to stage another "suicide attempt" on August 26, 1967 - and I think it's unlikely, for the above-stated "gradual OD" reason - there were several - what he thought were - surefire stopgaps in place to save him. Several people who he felt were keeping close tabs on him at certain times of day. If that were the case, unfortunately this time he tossed the dice and lost.
I wrote a post
in a friend's LiveJournal community on 8/17/05 about Brian's Priory Hospital stays - here's an excerpt:
His mother Queenie came to live with him after the Shiva (referring to Harry Epstein's recent death) period was over. Brian took good care of Queenie, whom he loved just as dearly as he did his father. She stayed until August 24.
By the time she left him to return to Liverpool for awhile, undoubtedly his body had become unaccustomed to the high volume of drugs he was taking before her visit. When he started pumping in the alcohol, pot, LSD, uppers and downers at their previous doses again, his mind and body reacted more strongly than ever.
The bromide poisoning made him so horribly drowsy that he felt he must sleep! but of course he could not get to sleep. In the two days since his mother left he had wanted to loosen up with his friends and enjoy himself, and had overindulged in brandy and uppers. So when the drowsiness hit but he couldn't actually sleep, more Carbitral went in (looked upon in those days as being sooo safe a sleep aid). According to his secretary, Joanne, she would take only a half Valium or Carbitral and it would put her away. The normal dose was one (or two, if you were building up a resistance). Brian would take 6 to 7 at a time, and still he would rejoice if he could cop only two hours of shut-eye.
On August 26, 1967 (judging from the sound of his voice when he called Peter Brown, and on the multiple messages on Simon Napier-Bell's answering machine) he'd wake up from a semi-sleep again and again, was obviously in a seriously groggy mental state where he'd forget what he had taken just a little while ago, and take more... and eventually our poor Eppy got the sleep he kept reaching for. Permanently.