Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Allen Klein--the Man who bailed out the Beatles, made the Rolling Stones and transformed Rock n Roll: A book review

When I think about Allen Klein the first thing that pops in my mind is "Ron Decline" from the Rutles movie.   In that film, Ron is shown marching around the office while people are terrified and one person is seen hanging himself.     After reading the book by Fred Goodman Allen Klein--The Man who bailed out the Beatles, made the Rolling Stones and transformed Rock n Roll,  I am not sure if I hate the man, adore the man or feel sorry for the man.

Klein had a difficult childhood..  He spent most of his formative years in an orphanage and lived in poverty.    The fact that he was able to work his way out of the difficult beginnings and become wealthy is admirable.  

Klein had a knack for finding money and for working with record companies and songwriters to find ways for them to make more money.   His first client was Sam Cook, who Klein really loved.      Klein worked his way up the Rock n Roll ladder but only had eyes for one band:  The Beatles.     He became the manager of the Rolling Stones but all the while wanted the Beatles.

After Brian Epstein's death in 1967, Klein knew he finally had his chance.    Regardless of what you think about the man, you can't deny that Allen Klein was a very intelligent man.    He was crafty and smart and he knew that the best way to get to the Beatles was to win over John Lennon first.    It was a smart move.    He tugged on John's heartstrings with his sad story of growing up; one that John himself could relate to.    He was hard-nosed and talked money to John.   Apple was in a sorry state and someone had to bail them out.    Klein talked to John about exactly how he was going to do it.  And most of all Allen treated Yoko with respect and as an artist.

Of course as we all know, Paul did not approve of Allen Klein and wanted his father in law, John Eastman to manage the Beatles.    However, Paul wasn't totally anti-Klein at the start.    He agreed with him on several issues and liked some of his thinking, but he wanted Eastman to represent him and not Klein.    Maybe if John Eastman and not his son came over to London to talk to the Beatles about it, things would have turned out differently.       But while John, George and Ringo all signed the contract with Klein, Paul posed for some happy photos with Klein and the others for publicity sake.

Klein helped the Beatles by firing a large amount of the staff at Apple and bailing them out but in the meantime he was making enemies with Mr. McCartney.    The straw that broke the camel's back was  when Paul called Klein and was put on hold and never got to speak to him.   Allen did this on purpose to a lot of people.   Wouldn't return calls, had them wait in the waiting room and never speak to them, etc.    Paul was furious about it and never tried to talk to Allen again---always through lawyers.

And so the book takes you through Paul suing the Beatles,  Klein's involvement in the concert for Bangladesh and Klein getting into movies (including Ringo's Blindman, which he had a cameo) and plays.      And into the 1980's where he goes to prison for 2 months and also he becomes frienimies with Yoko.

I found this book to be very interesting and gave me some insights on a man that is part of the Beatles' story that I never really knew a ton about.    However, I have no background knowledge about the record business or finances and some of the things in this book went way over my head.  I also felt like there were a lot of people for me to keep track of.  

On a side note, I have a copy of a letter written by a woman named Ruth Carter that I found at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame archives that was a secretary at Apple that REALLY puts Allen Klein in a bad light.   The things she writes in this letter weren't in the book and I wonder if any of it is true.

If you like to read about someone who was a shady but good businessman and about the ins and outs of the record business, then this is a great book for you.    If you just want to read about Apple records and the break up of the Beatles, there are better books to read.


  1. very interesting book

  2. I think Paul posed for the photos with Klein for one reason:He liked that Klein had negotiated The Beatles a higher royalty rate. It's hard to deny that. MarkZapp

    1. And why not? Even Ringo said the last three albums would never have been made without Paul. Paul worked hard for those royalties.

  3. met Mr. Klein once in New York and he was very friendly

  4. Paul was anti-Klein from the beginning. That was obvious in the Get Back footage and he wasn't the only one wary - so were Glynn Johns and George Martin. Everyone knew about Klein from the warnings by Mick Jagger. The Eastmans should have kept their noses out as well. (Lee was the father and was present at the meetings. John was his son). All of them were out to make money from the Beatles and their financial predicament. John felt conned by Klein's sweet talk. That's how people like him operate by earning their victim's trust, then taking them to the cleaners. Pete Doggett's book You Never Give Me Your Money is far superior to this slanted offering. But then Goodman is a senior editor at Rolling Stone. Surprise, surprise.