Allen Klein

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Allen Klein
Birth nameAllen Klein
Born(1931-12-18)December 18, 1931
Newark, New Jersey, United States
DiedJuly 4, 2009(2009-07-04) (aged 77)
New York City, United States
GenresRock music
Occupation(s)Accountant, Record Label Owner, Business Manager
Years active1956–2009
LabelsABKCO Records

Allen Klein (December 18, 1931 - July 4, 2009) was an American businessman. He studied to become an accountant, and made his living as the business manager of many celebrities, musicians in particular.

Early life[change | change source]

Klein was born in Newark, New Jersey and was of Hungarian Jewish descent.[1] He married a woman named Betty, after he graduated from college. He first became well known when he helped a singer, Bobby Darin, to recover money owed to him by his record label. Darin received a $100,000 check for unpaid royalties, and split it with Klein. Klein was called the "Robin Hood" of popular music, liked by artists but hated by the companies they worked for.

Career[change | change source]

Klein bought a struggling record label, Cameo-Parkway, and tried to make it more profitable. When he got into legal trouble for "talking up" the value of shares in the company, he changed his plans. He merged Cameo-Parkway with his own accounting firm, creating a company called ABKCO (for Allen and Betty Klein and Company).

Among Klein's clients were pop singers Connie Francis, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, R&B singer Sam Cooke, folk musician Donovan, record producer Phil Spector, and rock bands Herman's Hermits, The Animals, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. While he helped his clients with money matters, and to make new contracts that paid them better, not all his business choices were the best for his clients. Klein ended up owning much of the music of the Rolling Stones, the Animals and other artists, which cut into their long-term earnings. The artists also sometimes lost the goodwill of the businesses they dealt with, because of Klein's work for them.

Klein played a role in the breakup of the Beatles. He impressed John Lennon enough to sign up with him overnight, and Lennon persuaded George Harrison and Ringo Starr to go along. Paul McCartney, though, decided to let his wife Linda's father Lee Eastman become his manager. Eastman and Klein did not get along, and Eastman treated Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono poorly. Disagreements on what the Beatles should be doing with their company Apple Corps, and their own business interests, helped to tear the band apart.

After the Beatles broke up, Lennon, Harrison and Starr liked the things Klein did for them less and less, and eventually split with him, giving Klein a final payment of about £3.5 million for his services. Later, Klein got into tax trouble, and served a two-month jail sentence for income tax evasion.[2]

Klein continued his career, and ABKCO continued to issue records from the old Cameo-Parkway label, and the artists Klein had managed. Nearly all the records were taken off the market for many years, making classic songs like "96 Tears" (by ? and the Mysterians), "So Much In Love" by the Tymes, and "Bristol Stomp" by the Dovells impossible to buy.

Klein's son Jody became the controller of ABKCO, when Klein's health became poor. In 2005, ABKCO finally began to issue digitally remastered compact discs of the music owned by the company. Klein died in Manhattan[2] of complications from Alzheimer's disease in July 2009.

Sources[change | change source]

  1. Telegraph obituary
  2. 2.0 2.1 Allen Klein dies