Ex-Beatles, Rolling Stones manager Klein dies

Music manager Allen Klein, a no-holds-barred businessman who bulldozed his way into and out of deals with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, died yesterday, a publicist for his company said. He was 77.

Klein, who was one of the most powerful figures in the music business in the 1960s but ended up feuding with some of his biggest clients, died at his New York City home of Alzheimer's disease, said Bob Merlis, publicist for ABKCO Music & Records.

An accountant known for his brashness, temper and tenacity in tracking down royalties and getting better record deals, Klein garnered clients including Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin and Herman's Hermits.

But he became most famous — and later infamous — for signing on the Rolling Stones and then the Beatles. Both arrangements eventually spurred lawsuits, with some Beatles fans blaming Klein for contributing to the tensions that broke up the group.

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 was reputed to be the basis for the slick manager "Ron Decline," played by Jon Belushi, in the parodic 1978 film "The Rutles," and the inspiration for John Lennon's bitter 1974 song "Steel and Glass."

Regardless, Klein remained "very proud of the position he was in and what he was able to do with the different artists he was able to work with," Merlis said.

Klein began building his reputation by auditing record companies' books and finding unpaid royalties for Darin and other artists. After meeting Cooke in 1962, he helped the soul singer secure a then-unusual level of control over his music and finances.

"I never wanted to be a manager," he told The Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey, in 2002. "It was going over the books that I loved. And I was good at it."

That helped him win over the Rolling Stones, who hired him in the mid-1960s. He helped the group negotiate a new contract with its label, but the relationship soured after Klein bought the rights to the band's 1960s songs and recordings from a former manager.

He was fired in 1970, but the animosity continued for decades, culminating in dueling lawsuits over rights and royalties and a 1984 trial. Jagger testified in a federal court in New York that Klein "wanted a hold on us, on our futures" — and that a 1974 discussion about money ended with a shouting Jagger chasing Klein down a corridor at London's Savoy Hotel. The lawsuit was settled soon after, with Klein keeping the song rights but agreeing to pay royalties promptly.

In the meantime, Klein had set his sights on managing the Beatles and saw his chance when their longtime manager, Brian Epstein, died in 1967.

Initially rebuffed, Klein eventually won John Lennon's favor.

"He not only knew my work, and the lyrics that I had written, but he also understood them, and from way back. That was it," Lennon told an interviewer in 1970.

The group hired Klein in 1969 over the objections of Paul McCartney, who preferred his father-in-law, Lee Eastman.

At the time, a New York Times profile referred to Klein as "the toughest wheeler-dealer in the pop jungle." Klein himself once sent out a chest-beating holiday card with a profane takeoff on the 23rd Psalm: "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because I'm the biggest bastard in the valley."

But his relationship with the Beatles was bitter and short-lived. The group broke up the next year, and McCartney sued his bandmates in an effort to break free from Klein, an action once unthinkable among the harmonious foursome. McCartney went on to revile Klein in a 1997 biography, "Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now."

The other Beatles lost faith in Klein and sued him in the mid-1970s. Lennon sent him off in song in "Steel and Glass," which describes how "your mouthpiece squawks as he spreads your lies."

Klein was born in Newark on Dec. 18, 1931, and spent several years in an orphanage after his mother's death during his infancy. He was later raised by a grandmother and an aunt.

Klein graduated from Upsala College and served in the U.S. Army before joining a Manhattan accounting firm, according to his company.

He started his own firm, which later became ABKCO, in the late 1950s. Besides managing music, he co-produced 1971's "The Concert for Bangladesh," a forerunner of modern charity concerts, and films including 1978's "The Greek Tycoon," starring Anthony Quinn and Jacqueline Bisset.

He is survived by a longtime companion, Iris Keitel; his estranged wife, Betty; three children, four grandchildren and a sister.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson will star in Seth MacFarlane's highly-anticipated Ted 2

film
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The 44-year-old insisted there had been “no fallings out” with the other members of the band
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style