Saturday, July 4, 2009

Allen Klein, 1931-2009. R.I.P.

Allen Klein, an accountant who would become the manager of acts such as Sam Cooke, the Rolling Stones and later The Beatles, died today after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. He was 77.

In the 1960s, Klein won over the aforementioned artists and other artists by getting his clients more favorable deals with record companies which was almost unheard of in those days. Klein, in particular, helped artists win control of their master recordings. Klein founded ABKCO Records which primarily owns or administers the publishing rights of many of the artists managed by Klein in the 60s.

However, many of the artists Klein represented would become discontent with Klein because of his business practices. Paul McCartney never trusted Klein but he would be outvoted by the three other Beatles. George Harrison would particularly come to regret his relationship with Klein as it would take a decade for funds raised for The Concert for Bangladesh to be disseminated to the victims because Klein had not applied for tax exempt status.

While many blame Yoko Ono for the break up of The Beatles others blame Allen Klein.

Klein was at the center of controversy in 1997 over The Verve's hit song "Bitter Sweet Symphony." The Verve had asked ABKCO permission to sample The Rolling Stones "The Last Time" from a recording made by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra. ABKCO granted such permission. But after the song became a hit, ABKCO turned around and sued The Verve claiming the group had used too much of the sample. ABKCO won the suit and all royalties for "Bitter Sweet Symphony" go to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards even though Richard Ashcroft wrote the song's lyrics.

Needless to say the music business is very cut throat. With Allen Klein it could cut both ways.

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