Source: Dark Horse Comics
In honor of today’s release of The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story in an Expanded Edition paperback, I’m excited to also release The Fifth Beatle Expanded Edition Soundtrack —including one extra hour’s worth of additional tracks! Here you’ll find more score to the graphic novel, a further reveal of music cues in the forthcoming Fifth Beatle TV event series, more songs from the era to set Brian’s story in historical context, and songs that inspired the creation of the project.
For those of you reading (or listening) for the first time, please start with my ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK LINER NOTES where you’ll learn why this playlist isn’t just comprised of Beatles songs or songs from the era—why it includes tracks by artists such as Bauhaus, Billie Holliday, and Brazilian genius Amon Tobin. And you’ll learn how I feel about bands like the La’s and the Stone Roses who followed in the Beatles’ brilliant wake.
Whenever I write, I imagine a specific soundtrack playing over my pages. The Fifth Beatle Expanded Edition Soundtrack should literally be played while reading the graphic novel—in other words, start track 1 while you start reading page 1 and just let it go…
Here are my additional liner notes, for your expanded listening pleasure!
HOUND DOG, HEARTBREAK HOTEL – Elvis Presley
In many ways, the Beatles story starts with Elvis Presley. Elvis was the original game changer, first punk rocker (in terms of attitude), and the ground zero for inspiration for the young Beatles. They played lots of Elvis covers in those early days at the Cavern Club, when Brian first saw them and started working with them.
THE TWIST– Chubby Checker
HIT THE ROAD JACK – Ray Charles
LET ME IN – The Sensations
PLEASE MR. POSTMAN – The Marvelettes
RUNAROUND SUE – Dion
Essential listening to understand and appreciate the music scene that the Beatles burst into—and thereby the sonic impact these four boys from Liverpool had under Brian Epstein’s guidance.
WONDROUS PLACE – Billy Fury
Before the Beatles, Billy Fury was the gold standard for U.K. rockers. Forget about Brian Epstein’s visionary 1961 declaration that “The Beatles Will Be Bigger Than Elvis!”—in 1961 it was impossible to imagine anyone in England being bigger than Billy Fury! “Wondrous Place” is a wistful, gorgeous classic that fits the longing emotions at the beginning of The Fifth Beatle perfectly. See how we reference it in pages 10-11—it’s the song in Brian’s head, not the song the Beatles’ are playing at the Cavern:
Pencils by Andrew C. Robinson for pages 10-11, from the bonus section “With A Little Help From My Sketchbook” in The Fifth Beatle Expanded Edition
I’LL BE DOGGONE – Billy J. Kramer
Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas add a powerful hard rock edge to Marvin Gaye’s original version (this track produced by George Martin at Abbey Road Studios). Billy was also managed by Brian Epstein, and he wrote the introduction to The Fifth Beatle Expanded Edition “When I Got a Call From Brian, That’s When I Grew Wings.”
I GET AROUND – The Beach Boys
A huge hit in 1964, this track gives you a sense of the top of the American music pops in those days, and what Brian and the Beatles were both influencing and upturing.
BLUE SKIES – Ella Fitzgerald with Harry “Sweets” Edison
Brian and Moxie dance… It makes and breaks her heart.
WE LOVE YOU BEATLES – The Pebbles
Originally a novelty song recorded in 1964 by the Carefrees (that went all the way to #39 on the Billboard Hot 100 radio chart), this version is recorded by the Pebbles—a present-day, all-girl Japanese guitar surf-rock band. Somehow, that seems more fitting than bizarre—especially when viewed in context of “Chaos in the Philippines” the section in which I hear it in The Fifth Beatle, drawn by master cartoonist Kyle Baker.
For more behind-the-scenes with Kyle Baker, check out his never-before-seen bonus section “The Places I Remember” in The Fifth Beatle Expanded Edition.
A DAY IN THE LIFE – The Beatles
In 1961, Brian Epstein proclaimed “the Beatles will elevate pop music into an art form!” People laughed at him. What did he even mean? “A Day in the Life” is what he meant. It’s sad yet inspirational—a powerful, fitting final tribute to Brian’s dreams and legacy, and a fitting end to the The Fifth Beatle graphic novel.
I hope that through The Fifth Beatle, you will discover the life story of Brian Epstein, the rhythm of life will untie you, and the sounds of his story—the soundtrack of his life—will inspire you to chase your own dreams, and build your own legacy.
Brian Samuel Epstein, Z”L
May his memory be a blessing.
Vivek J. Tiwary
New York, October 25 2016