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It is not yet clear how he died. Friends found his body in bed after his housekeeper raised the alarm.
Mr Epstein, 32, was due to travel tomorrow to Bangor in north Wales to join the Beatles at a meeting of the International Meditation Society.
Paul McCartney and his girlfriend, Jane Asher, drove back to London in a chauffeur-driven car after hearing the news.
'Terrible and stupid accident'
The other Beatles were also returning to London.
Before leaving Bangor, John Lennon said: "Our meditations have given us confidence to stand such a shock."
George Harrison said: "There is no such thing as death, only in the physical sense. We know he is ok now. He will return because he was striving for happiness and desired bliss so much."
Brian Epstein's housekeeper became worried when she did not get an answer after knocking on his bedroom door in the middle of the afternoon.
Friends, who had called round to see him, broke into the room and found him dead. The police were called.
One of his business colleagues, Don Black, described his death as "a terrible and stupid accident".
Another colleague said: "He has been unwell for some months. The reason for his death is at present unknown, but there were no untoward circumstances associated with it."
A concert at the Saville Theatre, London, headed by Jimi Hendrix, was cancelled tonight in tribute to Mr Epstein. He owned the theatre's lease.
Mr Epstein brought a number of singers to fame. Apart from the Beatles, his other protégés included Cilla Black, Billy J Kramer, The Dakotas and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
Mr Epstein discovered the Beatles when they were still performing in blue jeans and leather jackets at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
He encouraged them to smarten up their image, wear suits and stop swearing and smoking in public - in order to broaden their appeal.
In January 1962 the band agreed a five year contract with Epstein, although he refused to sign it, saying their mutual regard for one another was enough.
He got them their first record deal with EMI in October 1962 and by autumn 1963, Britain was engulfed by Beatlemania.
Mr Epstein was a director of Northern Songs, the company which owned the copyright to McCartney and Lennons' songs. He was also a major shareholder in Nems Enterprises, which in turn was a big shareholder in Northern Songs.
A post mortem examination showed Brian Epstein died of an overdose of sleeping pills. The death was officially ruled as accidental, although it has often been speculated that it was suicide.
Brian Epstein started out in the family business as a furniture salesman. He quickly got bored and spent a year at RADA before returning to the family business.
The Epstein empire expanded to take over what was North End Road Music Stores and Brian was put in charge of the ground floor, which sold pianos and radios.
He began to sell gramophone records and the new department was so successful he opened a separate branch, which became known as NEMS.
The shop was just around the corner from the now-famous Cavern Club, where Brian first saw the Beatles play.
He looked after every aspect of the Beatles' business careers and after he died their business affairs rapidly crumbled. By 1970 they had split up.
A Beatles' autobiography, published in 2000, claimed Epstein wanted the Beatles to agree to a £50-a-week-for-life deal, which would have netted them just over £100,000 each, rather than the millions they actually earned.
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