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Allen Klein wanted the Beatles. He got the Beatles. He lost the Beatles. He went to prison.
When you think of bad$&@ rock managers, Allen Klein comes to mind. And Goodman's book is a worthy and long-awaited look at the man who made things happen for his clients--but at a cost.
Klein started with Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin and Bobby Vinton, then scored a big haul with the Rolling Stones. He believed he was the best manager. And he wanted to manage the best group, which in the late '60s put him on the hunt for the Beatles.
He got his wish, after Brian Epstein died and the other Beatles' wanted an alternative to Paul McCartney's suggestion of girlfriend Linda Eastman's father and brother. But the group was unraveling and Klein became another wedge that split the band. What would follow, if you read You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup by Peter Doggett, were years of financial and legal wrangling.
Much of that wrangling would involve Klein, as the representative of John, George and Ringo. And you get the sense from Goodman's readable bio that Klein was in his element. He loved power. He loved managing music groups and he loved a good (or bad) fight.
If you are like me and have always been attracted to the oversized Goliaths who populate the ranks of rock management, you will enjoy this book. Goodman does not paint a sympathetic psychological portrait. Rather, what he provides is an outside look, a man revealed through his actions. You don't crawl into the sheets with Klein. You come upon him across a table or in a corner office coaxing, cajoling and threatening.
Klein's greatest skill as a negotiator was his ability to see what artists wanted and then move worlds to get it. What they wanted in the early '60s was more money and control over their songs. Klein believed artists should be paid more. He negotiated lucrative royalty deals and had the Stones record their music independent of the label, thereby giving them and him more control over the production and copyright. Too bad Lennon and McCartney didn't get the same counsel when they were signing songwriting contracts in 1962.
But whatever good Klein did for his clients was offset by his lust for power and money. You were truly stiking a deal with the devil when you signed with Klein. The biography reveals a pattern. Klein the savior becomes the guy the band can't unload fast enough, and for good reason.
Eventually, Klein would go to prison for tax fraud, which probably gave no end of satisfaction to his enemies. He would make a brief comeback representing Phil Spector and dabble in films. But the slick deal maker from New Jersey, whose life was haunted by a childhood spent in an orphanage, lived out a quiet last act.
As narrator, Mike Chamberlain gives a straight reading. He doesn't perform the text as some narrators do. He just tells it like it is, no fuss.
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If you like music and business get this! It gives an insight in the complex relationship between Allen Klein and The Beatkes and The Stones.