x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Pugnacious pop mogul hired by The Beatles

Allen Klein, one of the most entrepreneurial, opportunistic, pugnacious and litigious figures in the world of popular music, has died in New York, aged 77.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono with Allen Klein, who once managed The Beatles.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono with Allen Klein, who once managed The Beatles.

Allen Klein, one of the most entrepreneurial, opportunistic, pugnacious and litigious figures in the world of popular music, has died in New York, aged 77. He was respected, feared, admired and loathed. Having managed the business affairs of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, he was probably the biggest rock manager in the world until he fell out with both groups. He managed to force record companies to give artists control and ownership of their records and also enriched himself handsomely.

He had a tragic childhood. His mother died before he was one and he and his sisters were sent by their father, a Hungarian kosher butcher, to a Hebrew orphanage in Newark for eight years. Somehow, he emerged with an accounting degree in 1956. He soon showed a genius for figures, small print and an ability to recover lost royalties. His audit for Bobby Darin was an early triumph and his deals for Sam Cooke established him.

In 1966, The Rolling Stones' then manager Andrew Loog Oldham sold his management share of the group to Klein. According to Mick Jagger, Oldham "sold [Klein] to us as a gangster figure, someone outside the establishment. We found that rather attractive." Not long after, John Lennon succumbed to Klein's flattery and convinced George Harrison and Ringo Starr to hire him. Only Paul McCartney resisted. When asked how he could possibly better this, Klein quipped, "Ringo suggested that maybe I ought to manage America."

He obtained huge advances for both bands but also rights and commissions for himself. By the mid-70s both the Stones and the Fab Four were suing him. By 1972 he had been the subject of 40 lawsuits. In 1979, he was sentenced to two months' jail for tax evasion - failing to report sales of promotional records of Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh. He died from complications of Alzheimer's disease. His family company, ABKCO Music & Records, is one of the biggest independent music labels.

Allen Klein was born on December 18, 1931. He died on July 4. His estranged wife and three children survive him. * The National