The following is a excerpt from Beatles vs. Stones by John McMillian. It contains graphic, possibly offensive language.
In 1967, the Beatles spent the last weekend in August in North Wales, attending a conference on “spiritual regeneration” hosted by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Their entourage – wives, assistants, and friends, including Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull – numbered about sixty people, all of whom were housed in an otherwise empty student college dormitory. Everyone slept in tiny rooms with bunk beds and plain furniture, and everyone paid the same standard rate for lodging: £1.50 per night, including breakfast. Members of the press were forbidden from the campus, and since only one person from the Beatles’ management team had a phone number with which to reach the group – to be used only in case of an emergency – it was expected to be a quiet weekend. But on the afternoon of August 27, the pay phone in the dormitory lobby just kept ringing and ringing.
The news was devastating: Brian Epstein was dead. At that point, the cause of his demise had not yet been officially determined, but authorities noticed that his bedside table was cluttered with eight pill bottles. He was thirty-two years old.
“It was simply terrible how lost, how heartbroken, the Beatles were,” Marianne recalled. “They kind of went into close family mode from the sorrow and the pain.”
The Maharishi tried assuaging the Beatles’ grief with his boring homilies. Brian had not really died, he told them. Rather, he had merely departed the earthly, physical realm; now he was gliding toward some other plane of existence. As they headed out of town, John and George – both glum and visibly shaken – spoke briefly with press. “Meditation gives you comfort enough to withstand something like this, even the short amount we’ve had,” said John. George added, “There’s no real such thing as death anyway.” Of the four Beatles, these were the two who were the most committed to Eastern teachings, but they didn’t sound terribly convincing. Later, Lennon revealed what was truly on his mind. “I knew that we were in trouble then,” he said. “I didn’t really have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music. And I was scared you know, I thought ‘we’d fucking had it now.’ ”
Before he poisoned himself with sleeping pills, Brian had become highly adept at cultivating press relations. One of the Fleet Street newshounds to whom he’d become especially close was Don Short, a reporter for London’s Daily Mirror. Although Short was known as a tenacious journalist, he and Brian had reached an understanding: when it came to covering the Beatles, there were certain “no-go” areas – things that he might become privy to, like Brian’s homosexuality or the Beatles’ drug use – that he would not report on. If, on the rare occasion, Epstein felt the need to vent about the Beatles, or to talk about them in a way that was not entirely flattering, he could do so with Short, confident that his remarks would not show up in the press.
One evening over drinks at his Chapel Street town house, Brian asked Short to hazard a guess: Which of the Beatles do you think is the hardest to manage?
Short quickly assumed it was John Lennon. He was the most volatile and sharp-tongued member of the group, the one most likely to go off script at a press conference or get ensnared in some kind of embarrassing shenanigan.
“In fact, Brian’s answer was McCartney,” Short recalled. “Paul wanted to project himself as the nice guy, but in terms of arranging Beatles business, he was the problem.” Paul frequently pestered Brian with questions and concerns about the Beatles’ business affairs, and he wasn’t shy about reminding Brian that it was his job to keep the Beatles happy. Usually McCartney got whatever he wanted by relying on his wooing and soft-selling skills, but sometimes he could be domineering and pushy – a bit of a control freak, even – and Brian would be intimidated. “John may have been the loudest Beatle, but Paul was the shrewdest,” claimed the group’s PR man, Tony Barrow.
In 1965, the pop music industry was abuzz about an audacious American accountant by the name of Allen Klein, who renegotiated the Rolling Stones’ record contract with Decca to the tune of $1.25 million in advance royalties. (That may not sound like much today, but it was unheard of at the time.) He did it with a bit of panache as well. Keith Richards recalls that he summoned the Stones and said, “We’re going into Decca today and we’re going to work on these motherfuckers. We’re going to make a deal and we’re going to come out with the best record contract ever. Wear some shades and don’t say a thing. Just troop in and stand at the back of the room and look at these old doddering farts. Don’t talk. I’ll do the talking.”
When Klein barreled into Decca’s boardroom with the Stones following behind him, he dispensed with any pleasantries. “The Rolling Stones won’t be recording for Decca anymore,” he announced.
Decca’s sixty-five-year-old chairman, Sir Edward Lewis, was appalled by the scene. When he reminded Klein that the Stones were already under a contract, Klein shot back that he did not care. (“A contract is just a piece of paper,” he was known to say.) According to Keith Richards, Sir Edward was literally drooling while Klein went through his spiel. (“I mean not over us, he was just drooling. And then somebody would come along and pat him with a handkerchief.”)
When it was over, Richards said, “They crumbled and we walked out with a deal bigger than the Beatles’.”
Paul was annoyed. If the Beatles were the most successful act in show business, he reasoned, why didn’t their record contract with EMI reflect that? Paul understood, of course, that when the Beatles were first getting going, Epstein’s career guidance had been invaluable. Epstein had managed the group with all-consuming devotion and uncanny prescience. But it was becoming increasingly apparent that Epstein lacked Klein’s sharklike mentality, as well as his deep knowledge of contractual law and music industry accounting practices.
Then again, so did just about every other pop group’s manager. In the mid-’60s, Klein was an acknowledged force in the fast-growing music business. He’d made his reputation by performing aggressive, small-print audits on behalf of his clients, including Bobby Darin, Lloyd Price, and Bobby Vinton, and then recovering unpaid royalties. In 1963, he renegotiated soul singer Sam Cooke’s contract with RCA, and won him $110,000 worth of back payments. Before long, record labels seemed almost fearful of Allen Klein. Others in the music industry, however, admired him. Klein’s personality was gruff (almost gangsterlike); he had a stout frame, oily hair, and one of his favorite words was “motherfucker.” But he also had a deep and abiding love for pop music, and he was unquestionably good at what he did. In some quarters, Klein’s sybaritic lifestyle – his fancy yacht and his high-rise office – enhanced his reputation.
After the Beatles quit touring, Epstein’s responsibilities on their behalf had greatly diminished. What the group most needed now, some people said, was a disciplined and hawk-eyed moneyman who could oversee their increasingly complicated finances. All eyes pointed toward Klein. Not only had he gotten the Stones a huge advance payment, he also increased the group’s royalty rate to 25 percent of the wholesale prices of each LP they sold (about 75 cents per album). When Epstein renegotiated the Beatles’ contract with EMI in late 1966, he must have tried to get a similar deal, but he fell short. The Beatles received only 15 percent per album sold in England, and 17.5 percent for each LP they sold in the U.S. on the Capitol label.
Klein and Epstein met in London in 1964, ostensibly to discuss the possibility that Sam Cooke might support the Beatles on an upcoming tour. Soon after the two began talking, however, Klein broached a different topic: the possibility of a business relationship. Epstein’s assistant, Peter Brown, recalled the meeting. “Klein said that he heard the Beatles’ low royalty rates from EMI were ‘for shit’ and that he could renegotiate their contracts. Brian was royally offended at the suggestion that someone else should do his job for him, and he had Klein shown to the door.”
If Epstein had hoped to discourage Klein, or embarrass him, then he underestimated the man. Klein soon began telling people that it was only a matter of time before he would “get” the Beatles. “[Epstein] always thought Klein was a big threat to him,” said Danny Betesh, a music industry veteran.
As if to make Brian even more insecure, Paul used Klein’s success against Epstein. One time in a crowded elevator, surrounded by the other Beatles, Paul said to him, “Yeah, well Klein got the Stones a quarter and a million, didn’t he? What about us?”
It was a fair question, but Paul later regretted the cutting way he put it across. Epstein was always so sensitive, and he desperately craved the Beatles’ approval – but perhaps never more so than during the last months of his life. His five-year management contract with the group was set to expire in October, and among his associates, he fretted endlessly about the possibility that the Beatles might cut him loose. Few of those in Epstein’s circle thought he had much cause for worry – probably he would have just been asked to take a lower commission – but who could say for sure?
In November 1966, Epstein was forced to swat down a newspaper rumor saying that the Beatles had already begun meeting with Klein to discuss their future management. Then in early 1967, Klein ensconced himself at London’s Hilton Hotel and boasted to reporters that he was destined to manage the Beatles. His remarks caused such a stir that Epstein denounced them with a formal press statement. Still, the Stones’ new manager never gave up. “The whole time Allen was with the Stones he was trying to get the Beatles interested in him,” said Sheila Klein Oldham (Andrew’s ex-wife). Mickie Most, the British record producer, said much the same. “Allen got very obsessed with signing the Beatles. The Stones were much more aggravation than he counted on.”
About seven weeks before Brian died, the Beatles released “Baby, You’re a Rich Man,” the B-side to their number one hit “All You Need Is Love.” George Harrison dubiously claimed that the song touted an uplifting, Eastern-tinged message: the idea that anyone can be “rich” because richness comes from within. But Brian likely surmised that “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” was an unfriendly song, intended specifically for him. One can only hope (perhaps faintly) that he didn’t notice the despicable way that Lennon corrupted the song’s chorus as it faded out. Instead of singing “Baby, you’re a rich man too,” he sang, “Baby, you’re a rich fag Jew.”
Baby, you’re a rich fag Jew. It wasn’t the first time Lennon had attacked Brian that way, but that didn’t make it any less outrageous, especially considering everything that Brian had done for the Beatles. Though it is hard to imagine now, showbiz managers in the 1960s looked after their clients a bit like parents did their children. That was considered normal. In fact, the Beatles were so dependent upon Brian that they hardly ever carried their own money. Instead, whenever they wanted or thought they needed something – whether it was new set of guitar strings or a fancy new car – they would have to ask their manager. Brian controlled the entire group’s purse strings. He ensured that everyone was taken care of and, when possible, he allowed for this or that extravagant expense. It was also his responsibility to be “fair” when he doled out the money (some got more than others) and to be mindful of his clients’ long-term financial health.
The Stones had a similar relationship with Klein, only Klein tried to ingratiate himself with his clients by presenting himself as the “cool dad” on the block – the most understanding, generous, and indulgent of all possible managers. “If you wanted a gold-plated Cadillac, he’d give it to you,” Richards marveled. “When I rang and asked for £80,000 to buy a house on Chelsea Embankment near to Mick’s, so that we could wander back and forth and write songs, it came the next day.”
What the Stones did not realize, however, was that they had already been swindled. When Klein came on board as co-manager of the Stones in August 1965, the Stones (plus Oldham) had already set up their own company in the UK called Nanker Phelge Music. Klein then promptly set up his own company, called Nanker Phelge USA – he was its president and sole stockholder – and it bore no relation whatsoever to the other Nanker Phelge. When Klein won that widely publicized $1.25 million advance from Decca, the money went to his coffers, not theirs. Furthermore, according to the fine print, Klein wasn’t required to release that money to the Stones for twenty years. (Meanwhile he invested it in General Motors stock and kept the enormous profits to himself.) Even more substantially, Klein tricked the Stones into surrendering the publishing rights to all of their recordings. It was an incredibly audacious scam. One would be hard-pressed to imagine a scenario in which a group as hugely successful as the Rolling Stones would knowingly surrender control of the copyright and master tapes of all of their songs. But Klein wound up owning the North American rights to everything the Stones produced until their contract with Decca expired in 1971. In fact, it was Klein – not the Rolling Stones – who made a fortune from the Stones’ all-time best-selling record, the compilation double album Hot Rocks 1964–1971. Later on, when Klein was forced to justify what he had done, he said it was a protective measure to shield the Stones from the British income tax.
The Stones eventually launched numerous lawsuits against Klein and his company, ABKCO (the Allen and Betty Klein Company), and it would take seventeen years before they reached a final settlement. Long before then, Klein cut off their golden spigot. In his memoir, Bill Wyman produced a series of telex exchanges from 1968 that show just how vexed and frustrated the Stones became over their inability to get Klein to release any of their money. A lengthy June 19 missive from Fred Trowbridge, the band’s London bookkeeper, indicated that the Stones’ travel agents were threatening legal action if they weren’t paid, that they owed money to their publicist (Les Perrin) and, to top it off, various overdraft fees were piling up. “We have made numerous attempts to contact you on the telephone,” Trowbridge wrote. “The position has now reached [a] crisis point. I need money now.… Yes Allen I need £12,995.10 [pounds], now.”
Later that summer, the Stones’ road manager and pianist, Ian Stewart, had to buy a new Hammond organ to replace his old one, which had been destroyed in a fire. But he couldn’t get Klein’s office to reimburse him. In August, Jagger formally asked Klein to put £125,000 in his account for a house he was trying to buy, but two months later the money still hadn’t been received. “What is happening on Mick’s checks re his properties[?],” read one communiqué, “these are most urgent.” By the fall, the cables from London to New York were growing increasingly frantic. On October 15, Brian Jones “urgently” requested £6,000 he needed to pay his lawyers. On October 21, Charlie Watts wrote, “I have not yet received my $5,000. Please telephone me back.” On October 26, Trowbridge wrote again: “Berger Oliver [a London law firm] are screaming for the balance of Bill’s money. What is happening to those checks? What about Brian’s £6,000?” An October 28 letter to Klein said, “We are still awaiting… funds in order to settle the £13,000 tax liability that is now overdue in respect of the past remunerations for Rolling Stones Ltd.” The most derisive cablegram, however, came directly from Mick: “The phone and electricity will be cut off tomorrow. Also the rent is due. I am having to run the office despite your wishes. If you would like to remedy this, please do so.”
When Klein introduced himself to the Stones in 1965, everyone in the band was still in their early twenties, except for Bill Wyman, who was nearly thirty. As Wyman later explained in his memoir, he was the only one in the group who was initially skeptical of Klein. “I didn’t trust him and he knew it. ‘Why don’t you like me, Bill?’ he would say on many occasions. ‘Because I don’t trust you, Allen,’ I would reply.” But before long, Wyman was mollified (at least temporarily) by a “fat check…the biggest payout [he’d] ever had,” which he delightedly showed his wife.
The only other Rolling Stone from whom one might have expected a bit of wariness was Jagger, the former economics student who nowadays is well-known for his business acumen. But Marianne always felt that Mick became savvy about money only later on, as a result of the problems Klein caused. Initially, Allen struck Mick favorably. Mick was perhaps a wee bit uneasy about Allen’s gauche personality – his abrupt manners, slovenly appearance, and thick New Jersey accent – but it wasn’t a deal breaker. In fact, it has been said that Mick was so pleased with Allen Klein that he recommended him to the Beatles. Derek Taylor, Apple’s press officer, remembers Jagger telling the group, “Well, maybe you wouldn’t want to go on holiday with Allen, but he’ll take care of you.”
Marianne Faithfull likewise remembers Jagger speaking positively about Klein to the Beatles, only she alleges that he did it false-heartedly. “Mick’s strategy in dealing with Allen Klein was fairly diabolical,” she wrote. “He would fob Klein off on the Beatles. Mick called up John Lennon and told him, ‘You know who you should get to manage you, man? Allen Klein.’ And John, who was susceptible to utopian joint projects such as alliances between the Beatles and the Stones said, ‘Yeah, what a fuckin’ brilliant idea.’ It was a bit of a dirty trick, but once Mick had distracted Klein’s attention by giving him bigger fish to fry, Mick could begin unraveling the Stones’ ties to him. It was just a matter of time before the relationship was severed.”
The Stones hired a London law firm, Berger Oliver & Co., to look into their financial situation. Around the same time, Jagger was introduced to Prince Rupert Loewenstein, a merchant banker descended from the Bavarian royal family, and hired him as his personal financial advisor.
Loewenstein said Jagger felt the Stones were in Klein’s “grip,” and that he had “done them in financially.” And Loewenstein agreed: “I was equally certain that he had been taken for a ride, and that I represented for him a chance to find a way out of a difficult situation.” He aimed to help the Stones extricate themselves from Klein as soon as such a move became feasible.
Klein and John Lennon met for the first time on the set of The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, a film the Stones released in December 1968. Curiously, they didn’t talk about financial matters; they just exchanged brief and perfunctory hellos.
A few weeks later, however, Lennon gave a revealing interview about the sorry state of Apple Corps, the multimedia company the Beatles had founded.
The journalist, Ray Coleman, asked Lennon whether he was “happy” with Apple? Lennon seized the opportunity to vent his frustration with unusual candor.
“No, not really,” he said. “I think it’s a bit messy and it needs tightening up. We haven’t got half the money people think we have. We have enough to live on, but we can’t let Apple go on like it is.… If it carries on like this, all of us will be broke in the next six months.”
Lennon’s last comment was hyperbolic; none of the Beatles were in danger of going broke. Then again, how could anyone be expected to know otherwise? All around the world, newspapers put Lennon’s remarks into print.
He was the first Beatle to confirm what so many suspected: Without Epstein at the helm, the Beatles were in trouble. They seemed flaky. First, they flirted with the Indian mystic the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Next came the Magical Mystery Tour failure. And now this. Apple was a fiasco.
In 1971, Klein gave an interview to Playboy that focused heavily on his relationships with the Beatles and the Stones.
Playboy: Why did you want the Beatles?
Klein: Because they’re the best.
Playboy: Why did you feel you’d have them?
Klein: Because I’m the best. I can even tell you the moment when I knew for sure I was going to be their manager. I was driving across a bridge out of New York, and I heard on the radio that Epstein had died and I said to myself, “I got ’em.” Who else was there?
Playboy: Did you get in touch with John or did he call you?
Klein: I called John. Sometime in early 1969 I read that he had made a statement to the papers saying that if the Beatles didn’t do something soon, Apple would be broke in six months. That was my opening.
Peter Brown, made executive director of Apple in 1967, remembers Klein calling frequently. One time, Brown agreed to a meeting between himself, Klein, and Clive Epstein (the late Brian’s younger brother). But nothing was accomplished.
“[Klein] was so foul-mouthed and abusive, I ended the meeting in a few minutes and had him shown the door – just as Brian had done years before,” Brown recalled.
After reading Lennon’s comments about Apple, however, Klein redoubled his efforts. “I would dutifully return the calls,” Brown said, “but Klein was now insisting that he would only speak to one person – John Lennon. I told him that was impossible.”
Refusing to be stymied, Klein reached out to Tony Calder, Andrew Oldham’s business partner who was also friendly with Taylor. Over a couple of vodkas, Calder passed along a high-priority message: Klein was staying at the Dorchester Hotel, London, and wanted to have John and Yoko over for dinner.
Taylor did as he was asked. Years later, he seemed a bit sheepish about it. “Klein is essential in the Great Novel as the Demon King,” he quipped. “Just as you think everything’s going to be all right, here he is. I helped to bring him to Apple, but I did give the Beatles certain solemn warnings.”
Although Klein would become widely disliked in the music industry, his early success in pop music management was not hard to understand. Back in 1963, when soul singer Sam Cooke was having troubles with his record label, RCA, Klein told him: “Sam, I think they’re treating you like a nigger, and that’s terrible – you shouldn’t let them do it.”
When Klein met Lennon in January 1969, he pressed a different button: He stressed that there were four Beatles. McCartney wasn’t anybody’s leader! Where did he get off, treating the others as if they were merely sidemen? It was just what Lennon wanted to hear.
Lennon also believed Yoko was fully his equal as an artist, and that she wasn’t being paid proper mind – neither by the other Beatles, nor by the broader society. So Klein arranged for the hotel to serve Yoko the macrobiotic rice he knew she favored, and he lavished attention upon her throughout the dinner.
He told Yoko he would find funding for her art exhibitions, and he would get her avant-garde films distributed by United Artists. Not only that, he predicted they would pay her a million-dollar advance (a preposterous claim).
When Klein discussed his background, he stressed the uncanny ways his own rough childhood had paralleled Lennon’s. Allen never knew his mother; she died when he was young. His father, a Hungarian immigrant, worked in a butcher shop, and since he couldn’t afford to raise four kids on his own, he placed infant Allen in an orphanage, where he remained until he was at least nine (some sources say older). Eventually he was placed in the custody of an aunt (just like Lennon had been).
And now? He owned a yacht and worked from a plush corner office on the 41st floor of a West Side office building. He could afford to gloat about his success because he had earned it. It came as a result of his calculator brain, his tenacious work ethic, and his utter fearlessness.
On his desk, he kept a plaque that parodied Psalm 23: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil for I am the biggest motherfucker in the valley.”
During his dinner with John and Yoko, he made a point of demonstrating his knowledge of soul, pop, and rock and roll by quoting song lyrics from way back. He also underscored his deep understanding of the Beatles.
“He knew every damn thing about us, the same as he knows everything about the Stones,” Lennon said. “He’s the only businessman I’ve met who isn’t grey right through his eyes to his soul.”
Klein assured Lennon that initially he wouldn’t charge him a penny. He just wanted permission to look into his affairs and see what he could do on his behalf. The next morning, Lennon sent a memo to EMI’s chairman, Sir Joseph Lockwood: “Please give [Klein] any information he wants and full cooperation.”
That came as alarming news to McCartney. Although McCartney had once had a favorable view of Klein, he had recently revised his thinking as a result of his connection with the Eastman family. Linda Eastman’s father, Lee, was a successful showbiz attorney, and her brother, John, was being groomed to take over the family law firm. Both men were posh, debonair, and expensively educated.
The Eastmans advised McCartney to stay away from Klein. Not only was he gross and dislikable, they said, he was also under investigation in the U.S. by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) over an alleged stock-rigging scheme.
When McCartney asked Lee and John Eastman if they’d be willing to help the Beatles straighten out their finances, they said they would be happy to. And perhaps they would have done a fine job. But McCartney should have realized the other Beatles weren’t about to let him put his own relatives in charge of the group’s finances.
Shortly after Klein won over John and Yoko, he called for another meeting, this one between all the Beatles plus Klein (representing Lennon) and John Eastman (representing McCartney). Right away, the two businessmen in the room began sparring, and before long, McCartney and Eastman became so fed up with Klein’s pugnacious attitude they fled the room.
From a tactical point of view, it was a grievous error. After they’d left, Klein told the other three Beatles they were getting screwed six ways to Sunday, but he knew how to put a stop to it. He said he’d audit EMI’s books, renegotiate their record contract, and get Apple going again by removing all its dead weight.
And he promised he’d act in all of their interests, rather than defer to McCartney. The other Beatles were so impressed they told Klein they were ready to sign with him on the spot. Klein said it wasn’t necessary. “I didn’t want to appear too anxious,” he explained later.
Alarmed at what had transpired, Lee Eastman flew to London for another meeting with the Beatles (plus Klein). In preparation, he’d brought a sheaf of clippings that portrayed Klein negatively.
Klein, however, had done some research of his own, and he’d made an odd discovery: Lee Eastman, a descendant of Jewish immigrants from Russia, was using a surname that was different from the one he’d been given at birth. Originally, he was Leopold Vail Epstein.
Like many ambitious young men, he’d changed his last name so it sounded more Anglo. According to Brown, who was present at the meeting, Lennon and Klein both taunted Eastman by referring to him as “Epstein.”
Furthermore, Klein wouldn’t let Eastman get a word in. He “began interrupting everything [Eastman] said with a string of the most disgusting four-letter words.” Finally, Eastman exploded in such a rage he discredited himself in front of the others.
Lennon, however, remembered it differently: he claimed Eastman was the bully. “We hadn’t been in there more than a few minutes when Lee Eastman was having something like an epileptic fit, and screaming at Allen that he was ‘the lowest scum on earth,’ and calling him all sorts of names.”
When McCartney began chiming in, making snarky comments about Allen’s poor dress sense, he further undermined his position. Lennon was not always polite, but he loathed snobbery and class condescension. He was horrified.
By that point, there were probably only a couple of people on the planet who, if they had so desired, might have been able to keep the Beatles from splitting up. One was Yoko Ono, with whom Lennon was spending nearly all of his waking hours (often in a heroin-fueled stupor).
When McCartney asked Lennon to explain why he was so drawn to Klein, Lennon shrugged and said, “Well, he’s the only one Yoko liked.” But she wasn’t the least bit savvy about the music business either.
Then there was Jagger. Did he feel responsible for the Beatles’ current predicament? He had recommended Klein to the Beatles; now it was clear from his own actions that he distrusted Klein.
“It was Mick who introduced Klein to John Lennon a few weeks before I met Mick,” recalled Loewenstein. “He rang Lennon back and said, ‘I’ve rethought it and I’ve gone to this other person. I think you should do the same because I’m not happy about my introduction to Klein.’ ”
McCartney declared in an affidavit that when John, George, and Ringo outvoted him three to one in favor of Klein, it was “the first time in the history of the Beatles that a possible irreconcilable difference had appeared between us.”
Klein’s reputation in England took a seismic hit on April 13, 1969, when the Sunday Times, London, printed a profile of Klein: “The Toughest Wheeler-Dealer in the Pop Jungle.” The paper attributed Klein’s success to “a startling blend of bluff, sheer determination, and financial agility, together with an instinct for publicity and the ability to lie like a trooper.”
It also revealed he had been involved in 40 lawsuits, that the SEC was investigating his affairs, and that the Stones’ North American royalties were paid directly into Klein’s own company.
If that wasn’t depressing enough to the Beatles, it was revealed that McCartney had been secretly buying shares of Northern Songs, which published Lennon and McCartney’s songbook, in his own name; he owned 751,000 shares compared to Lennon’s 644,000.
That was a flagrant violation of a verbal agreement the two had made to keep their shares on an equal footing. When Lennon discovered the double cross, he grew more hostile toward McCartney than ever.
Of course, it would be fallacious to say Klein caused the Beatles’ dissolution. Other factors contributed. When they released The White Album in November 1968, it was clear they were moving in different artistic directions.
And when Lennon made the Two Virgins album and asked the other Beatles what they thought, he wasn’t really interested in their feedback. No, this was just his way of informing the rest of the group that he wasn’t interested in being a Beatle anymore.
The Beatles broke up in 1970.
From BEATLES VS. STONES by John McMillian. Copyright © 2013 by John McMillian. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.