Tuesday, July 7, 2009

i don’t know just where i’m going, but i’m gonna try for the kingdom if i can

Allen Klein, former music manager of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke, the Animals, the Kinks, Bobby Darin, and tons more, died Saturday at the age of 77. He was known for his blunt and rather tenacious business style and the large fallouts he had with the majority of his famous clients, most of them ending in lengthy legal battles. He famously said in defense of his abrasive style of negotiating, “The music business is about 99 percent no-talent losers who can’t stand a winner in their midst.”
Allen Klein was the son of Jewish Hungarian immigrants who founded the label ABKCO Music & Records in the 1950s, a label that holds the copyrights to many famous groups from the sixties and seventies – including the Rolling Stones, Phil Spector, Bobby Womack, and hundreds more. Klein gained infamy when he was cited in the eventual breakup of the Beatles after John Lennon persuaded George Harrison and Ringo Starr to appoint Klein their business manager after Brian Epstein’s death. Paul McCartney resisted the change, feeling that Klein could not be trusted. Eventually that turned out to be true – Klein was ultimately unable to save the Beatles’ many umbrella projects under Apple Corps, including Zapple Records, and lost the rights to Northern Songs from a buyout by ATV, a loss that took away ownership rights and copyrights to nearly the band’s entire catalogue.
During the early '70s he was an aide to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, he was hired because "a real shark - someone to keep the other sharks away." The relationship was one that eventually cooled, and Klein was personified in Lennon's song "Steel and Glass," with lyrics like: Your phone don't ring, no one answers your call/How does it feel to be off the wall/Well your mouthpiece squawks as he spreads your lies/But you can't pull strings if your hands are tied.
He was also remembered for his tumultuous relationship with George Harrison, namely his role in the “My Sweet Lord”-“He’s So Fine” controversy during the seventies. Initially Klein was a friend to Harrison, helping him to organize the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh and offering support and legal advice to him during the initial stages of the “My Sweet Lord”-“He’s So Fine” lawsuit. Eventually, Klein betrayed Harrison by purchasing the 1963 song “He’s So Fine” and becoming his legal opponent. Ultimately, a judge ruled that Klein’s switching sides was unfair and advised Harrison to pay Klein $587,000 so that Klein would gain nothing from the suit.
Klein’s death on July 4th after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease brings to an end a lengthy and controversial career.

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