Rolling Stones and Beatles fans will want to check out Fred Goodman’s new book “Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out The Beatles, Made The Stones and Transformed Rock & Roll.” The former “Rolling Stone” editor provides readers with a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the wheelings and dealings of one of rock’s most infamous, mysterious and controversial entrepreneurs.
Granted unprecedented access to Klein’s personal and corporate records, Goodman attempts to demythologize the life and career of the late business manager, who has often been painted as a rock n’ roll Svengali responsible for the break up of The Beatles and swindling The Rolling Stones out of their pre-1971 back catalogue along with ripping off a host of other talent under his management, which included such legendary artists as Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin, The Animals, The Who, The Kinks and Donovan, among others. Goodman’s research reveals Klein made millions for his clients, revolutionized the industry, gained unparalleled creative freedom for his artists and suggests that the truth behind many of the accusations leveled at the much-vilified rock impresario bears far more investigation.
Goodman uncovers a more human side to the self-proclaimed “biggest bastard in the valley.” The author traces Klein’s roots back to his formative years, revealing the loss of his mother in early childhood and abandonment by his father, who left him to be raised in a foster home. These experiences leave a lasting impression on Klein and help shape the character and traits that drive him in later life – for better or worse.
Goodman follows Klein’s career as he moulds his craft during the fascinating golden years of rock n’ roll in the 1950s and early 1960s. Along the way, the author provides illuminating snapshots of Klein via interviews and anecdotes from work associates, family members, employees and early clients such as Bobby Vinton, Marianne Faithful, Donovan and Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham (who tellingly refers to his longtime friend as “Allen Crime”).
Klein elicits equal parts fascination and revulsion in his meteoric rise as his need for winning and recognition, combined with his perceptiveness, hardnosed tactics, tenacity, farsightedness, meticulous research and ability to read people, help catapult the aspiring businessman to the pinnacle of success. Klein builds an empire, eventually overseeing the careers of rock’s most elite acts – The Stones and The Beatles – but eventually crashes down hard as many of these same needs and traits help lead to his personal downfall.
Goodman certainly does not try to whitewash Klein’s shortcomings. His reputation was earned by making millions for his clients, but also by making millions more for himself and often taking care of his own interests ahead of his clients. But in trying to present a more balanced picture of Klein, Goodman employs his interview subjects selectively and a number of Klein’s former high profile artists with a long lists of well documented grievances against their former manager are not given a voice or are sometimes treat in a general or dismissive manner (i.e. “sour grapes”). But perhaps, as Stones guitarist Keith Richards said of Klein in his biography “Life,” the costly lessons learned were “the price of an education.”
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