Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Beatles vs The Stones

Not much interest in this:

In the 1960s the two biggest bands in the world—the lovable Beatles and the bad-boy Rolling Stones—waged an epic battle. “The Beatles want to hold your hand,” wrote Tom Wolfe, “but the Stones want to burn down your town.” Both groups liked to maintain that they weren’t really “rivals”—that was just a media myth, they politely said—but on both sides of the Atlantic, they plainly competed for commercial success and aesthetic credibility. In Beatles vs. Stones, John McMillian gets to the truth behind the ultimate rock ’n’ roll debate.

At the heart of all of this was Allen Klein:

Nice was not a word that would have sat comfortably on the shoulders of this no-necked, roughly spoken New York accountant, who had in his employ a couple of the roughest-looking goons I have ever met.

'Why don't you like me, Bill?' Klein would ask Rolling Stones bass guitarist Bill Wyman, as the Stones were being driven to distraction trying to get their hands on the money they'd earned, but which their manager was holding for them in his New York company. 

'Because I don't trust you, Allen,' would come the unblinking reply.
It's unlikely Klein was offended. 'Hey, Allen, why does no one like you?' he told me Paul McCartney had once asked.

His answer was that he didn't have friends in showbusiness or belong to the Variety Club. His job was to fight for his clients.
And fight for them he did. He forced record companies to give artists both control and ownership of their records, which was unprecedented at the time but is normal practice now.

Klein maintained a viciousness well into the modern era. He died in 2009, but not before helping himself to as much money as possible:

Unfortunately for some of the artists, however, he also did terrific deals for himself, with the result that most of the biggest Rolling Stones hits are now owned not by them but by ABKCO, one of his companies.

All those old Sixties records we hear all the time continue to generate millions of dollars annually.

And Klein got doubly lucky when, in 1997, The Verve sampled a violin orchestration used on a recording of the Stones hit The Last Time, and turned it into the worldwide hit and Grammy nominee Bitter Sweet Symphony.

The Verve wanted the royalties, but so did Klein. He had to go to court to get the money, but he won. Of course he did, he was Allen Klein. He was tough.

Anything that revisits the inherent awfulness of a human being like Allen Klein is not worth the time of day. But, to be fair, the Beatles were not peace and love hippies. They were every bit as obsessed with money as Klein was.

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