It’s hard to believe (well, it’s hard for me to believe) that authors are restricted to word counts, especially when a book is so chock-a-block full of insight and quality material as The Beatles And The Historians, but alas, it’s true. However we’re in luck: Erin has saved some wonderful tidbits for us, and here’s one below.
On Why George Chose Klein:
The idea that Harrison’s decision to back Klein was motivated, at least in part, by the younger man’s enduring hero worship of Lennon is one possibility. Another is that Klein’s reputed financial skills appealed to Harrison, who was portrayed throughout the official narrative as the Beatle most interested in business and money. During the early 1970s, Harrison emphasized how much more money Klein had made them than Epstein.[i] In a 1971 interview Harrison offered an additional, and perhaps more revealing rationale, describing Klein as “the first to really take a personal interest in me,”[ii] indicating that he had felt Epstein over looked him. As contemporaneous evidence, these interviews offer additional reasons for a decision that Harrison came to regret; they also are untouched by his later agendas.
10 thoughts on “Unpublished Excerpts From The Beatles & The Historians: George and Allen Klein”
To clarify: the first quote comes from this source:
Howard Smith Interview with George Harrison, WABC New York, May 1970, The Beatles Interview Database. http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/db1970.04gh.beatles.html
and the second from this one:
Al Aronowitz, “Staring Down Death: George Harrison and Me” Column Sixty-Two, August 1, 2001. http://www.blacklistedjournalist.com/
The Aronowitz quote/interview is included in Aronowitz’s book, which is also included in my bib. It’s an interesting article/interview Aronowitz did about George in 1971, to say the least: adulatory in its praise of George, contemptuous in its portrayal of Paul, who was getting the lion’s share of the blame for the breakup from the press in that era.
I do find George’s statement regarding Klein (and its implication for his relationship with Brian) striking, for a number of reasons. Certainly Klein knew which buttons to push with George, the same as he did with John/Yoko. But I’m curious to see what others think as well.
Just to clarify, which second quote are you referring to? I’ll edit a correction when I’m sure who I’m quoting. 🙂
You’re right; I should have said the second citation. The first one — “Harrison emphasized how much more money Klein had made them than Epstein” — isn’t a direct quote, but my paraphrasing of his comments in that interview. The only direct quote is the one George offers about Klein, from that Aronowitz interview.
I think this entire passage kind of nails it, as far as identifying George’s motivations.
George,who typically didn’t suffer fools gladly and would have normally rejected Klein’s bravado and buffoonery, must have been pretty hungry for attention and validation (and worried he would receive neither with Eastman, who probably was viewed by George as a McCartney surrogate) to accept someone he naturally would have loathed.
But would George have normally rejected Klein’s bravado? George wasn’t as drawn to larger-than-life characters to the same intensity John was, but he, like the others, was still suckered in by Magic Alex and — lets not forget — was out there enough that he invited the Hell’s Angels to occupy Apple, a place of business. While I see a natural loathing between Paul and Klein — as I’ve mentioned before, I think there’s a fundamental personality clash and dislike there, regardless of the business reasons — I don’t see that with George: I’m curious to hear why you think George would have loathed Klein.
George also got cheated by another manager later on, as Doggett notes in YNGMYM. George being the Beatle most interested in money — and yes, it was a way to distinguish him from the others in the official narrative, but it is still reinforced by the evidence — doesn’t mean that George couldn’t also be a sucker for and enjoy Klein’s “Let me give you everything you want financially” bravado. Combine Klein’s financial promises along with his promises to focus on George, devote more attention to him, his self-made man image, and his habit of developing deeply personal relationships with his clients, and you can see why George so willingly followed John’s lead.
One of the elements of George’s decision that we have no evidence for, and is entirely speculation, is my guess that another part of the reason George chose Klein is because he wanted to get back on John’s good side. The LIB tapes make it clear that the major rupture during the recording of that album and project (immediately prior to Klein’s entrance) was not between John and Paul, although relations were fraying; they were far worse between John and George. It’s John who’s bashing George’s songs, refusing to put almost any effort into them, George who’s the most vocally opposed to Yoko, and George and John who actually physically fight. Paul and George have their own moments of tension, but nothing compared to J&G. George’s open resentment of John’s treatment of him and of Yoko’s presence had created a rift between him and John to the point that John is seriously discussing replacing George: perhaps George believed that siding with John on the Klein issue would help repair, or at least paper over, the strains caused by the Yoko issue. It’s not as if John and George ever did reconcile on the Yoko issue, given the reason John refused to come to George’s Concert for Bangladesh, but they could ally with each other, against Paul ,on the Klein issue.
Just a hunch. I wouldn’t put Magic Alex–or even the Hell’s Angels–in the same category as Klein. Magic Alex and HA were considered “cool”and anti-establishment, while Klein was the kind of pushy, in-your-face opportunist The Beatles hated and avoided most of their career.
I do wish we knew more about George’s thoughts on Klein. That no one in the press — particularly after 1973 — really made George or John (or Yoko) sit down and actually give a decent answer as to why they were so determined to have Klein as their manager, is a great failure of Beatles journalism.
But I do think Klein sold himself to John and George as anti-establishment, particularly when he contrasted himself with the Eastman’s. John and Yoko, at least, believed in it; George probably believed it to some extent. That’s actually one of the reasons I speculate that the John/George and Klein relationship sputtered after 1971. Up until that point, Klein could sell himself as anti-establishment figure even while managing J&G, because he was ‘defending’ them against the ‘straight’ Eastman’s. Once the Eastman’s were no longer around to serve as a financial and legal boogeyman for Klein to blame everything on, Klein became the establishment figure — and we all now what John and George did to Establishment figures.
Yup, and that’s essentially what I was attempting to convey earlier, but not as succinctly, thanks: once the facade was ripped away and the emperor had no clothes, they saw him for the pushy opportunist he was and rejected him.
I wholeheartedly agree that it was a journalistic failure of epic proportions that John and George (and Ringo) were not held to account regarding their support of Klein. There’s one interview with John and Yoko (I’ll have to dig it up) right after they split with Klein. John acknowledged that “”Paul may have been right”. Naturally, the interviewer let the matter drop.
There’s a quote in one of Barbara Tuchman’s books — I can’t remember whether its her quote or not — but its something to the effect of how rare it is in history for someone to admit that they had been wrong and made a mistake. That’s certainly true of Beatles history.
You get oblique admittances from John in song — “Steel and Glass” — and private thanks to Paul from George (and evidently from Ringo and Yoko) decades later, but the closest you get to a public admission is John’s “Let’s say possibly Paul was right about Klein.” John’s not saying that in Melody Maker, either, not like when he was defending Klein in November/December 1971, but in a rather under-the radar interview.
Reporters probably didn’t ask because they didn’t want to antagonize their interviewee. Still. The natural follow-up questions should be “When did you realize, John, that Paul was right about Klein?” “In what ways was Paul’s assessment of Klein correct?” “You spent four years defending Klein’s appointment as Apple’s manager and even went to trial to do so; do you still agree with your trial testimony? What about your assessment of the Eastman’s? Do you still believe Paul rejected Klein because of class issues, as you’ve repeatedly stated?”
I’ve come to the conclusion that most journalists are wimps.