Sunday, July 5, 2009

Infamous Ex Beatles, Rolling Stones Manager Allen Klein Dies At 77

CNN is reporting that music manager Allen Klein, whose clients included the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, died Saturday after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease, his publicist said. Klein was 77.

The son of Jewish immigrants from Hungary, Klein founded his firm Allen Klein & Co. in the late 1950s before the label evolved into ABKCO Music & Records in New York. The independent label holds the copyrights to music by the Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke, the Animals, the Kinks, Pete Townshend of the Who. Chubby Checker, Bobby Womack and hundreds of others.

Klein represented dozens of artists, including Sam Cooke, the Animals, Bobby Darin and Herman's Hermits. He changed the music industry when he represented Sam Cooke in negotiations with RCA, winning the artist control of his own master recordings.

Known for a tenacious and often blunt style in negotiations, Klein's greatest coups were inking contracts with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, though both relationships ended in legal battles.

ABKCO built up a catalog of copyrights to more than 2,000 songs, including much of the Stones' 1960s catalog. Klein retained ownership of those titles even after splitting with the Stones. In 1969, John Lennon persuaded the other Beatles that Klein should take over the group's business affairs, but Paul McCartney resisted the move and some music historians say the appointment hastened the Beatles' split.

Lennon later fell out with Klein, who was thought to be the target of the former Beatle's 1974 song "Steel and Glass."

Klein was convicted of tax fraud in 1979 and served two months in prison for failing to report income from sales of promotional records by the Beatles and other groups; the records were supposed to be given away. The Rolling Stones grew so infuriated with Klein – whose company still owns an enormous chunk of their 1960s songs – that Mick Jagger once chased him down the hall of a posh hotel.

Klein, who was already representing "British Invasion" artists such as the Animals, Dave Clark Five and Herman's Hermits, set his sights on the Rolling Stones, who were laboring under an onerous deal. He renegotiated their pact in 1965, and ended up managing the group for about five years, taking a 20 per cent fee.

The Stones eventually tired of Klein. But the only way to break free of him was to give up the rights to their master recordings and to such timeless tunes as "Satisfaction" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash."

The animosity continued for decades, culminating in dueling lawsuits over rights and royalties and a 1984 trial.

Klein was reputed to be the basis for the slick manager "Ron Decline," played by John Belushi, in the parodic 1978 film The Rutles.

Defending his tough style, Klein told Playboy magazine in 1971: "The music business is about 99 percent no-talent losers who can't stand a winner in their midst."

In 1971, Klein worked with George Harrison to organize the "Concert for Bangladesh" at Madison Square Garden, one of the first major benefit concerts of the rock era.

Late in his career, Klein agreed to license a sample of a Rolling Stones song to the British group the Verve for their hit single "Bittersweet Symphony." But after the song was released, ABKCO successfully argued in court that the Verve had used too much of the sample and won 100 percent of the song's royalties.

Klein is survived by his wife Betty, their three children and four grandchildren. Services will be held in New York on Tuesday.


Sam's Neph said...

Wow, it's amazing how history can be twisted. The author of this obit doesn't have his facts right. Sam Cooke negotiated the ownership of his publishing rights when he signed with RCA in January of 1960, long before he'd ever met Klein.

However, Klein did help him sign an epic contract with RCA which awarded Sam, at the time, the largest bonus ever given to a black artist.

Erik Greene
Author, "Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective"

Anonymous said...

...and it was George, not Ringo who put on the concert for Bangaladesh

Anonymous said...

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