A commemorative blue plaque has been unveiled in honour of legendary gay Beatles manager Brian Epstein.

Epstein, who is credited with managing the band’s rise to fame, died in 1967, at the age of 32 from a drugs overdose.

He remained famously guarded about his sexuality, although it had been an open secret among his friends.

As well as The Beatles, Epstein also managed pop group Gerry and the Pacemakers, and the singer Cilla Black.

He later became heavily involved in the UK’s 1960s drug scene, and despite attempts to curb his use, the Liverpool-born star died on 27 August 1967, one month before England overturned its ban on homosexuality.

The Heritage Foundation memorial plaque was unveiled yesterday outside Sutherland House, next door to the London Palladium, where Epstein was based.

Sir Paul McCartney said: “I know Brian would have been very proud to think that he had earned a Blue Plaque in the West End of London.

“He played a very important role in guiding the career of us Beatles and more than that he was a lovely man whose friendship we all valued and who I will always remember with great fondness. Congratulations Brian. Love from Paul McCartney.”

Andrew Lancel, who is currently starring in the play ‘Epstein: The Man Who Made the Beatles’, unveiled the plaque.

He said: “It is very fitting there is now a permanent reminder to recognise his contribution to the world music scene – he shaped history and his artists still very much influence today’s music scene.

“I am very much looking forward to playing Brian in London, and telling his fascinating story to West End audiences.”

In a 1997 BBC interview, McCartney had stated: “If anyone was the fifth Beatle, it was Brian [Epstein].”

Two films about Epstein are currently in the works, with Benedict Cumberbatch reportedly lined up to play Epstein in a biopic announced in 2012.