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Ex-Beatles, Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein dies

  • Story Highlights
  • Allen Klein, who inked contracts for dozens of musicians, dies at age 77
  • Klein's company, ABKCO, built up catalog of copyrights to more than 2,000 songs
  • Known for his tough negotiating style, many blame Klein for the Beatles' break-up
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(CNN) -- Music manager Allen Klein, whose clients included the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, died Saturday after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease, his publicist said. Klein was 77.

The son of Jewish immigrants from Hungary, Klein founded his firm Allen Klein & Co. in the late 1950s before the label evolved into ABKCO Music & Records in New York. The independent label holds the copyrights to music by the Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke, the Animals, the Kinks, Chubby Checker, Bobby Womack and hundreds of others.

Klein represented dozens of artists, including Sam Cooke, the Animals, Bobby Darin and Herman's Hermits. He changed the music industry when he represented Sam Cooke in negotiations with RCA, winning the artist control of his own master recordings.

Known for a tenacious and often blunt style in negotiations, Klein's greatest coups were inking contracts with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, though both relationships ended in legal battles.

ABKCO built up a catalog of copyrights to more than 2,000 songs, including much of the Stones' 1960s catalog. Klein retained ownership of those titles even after splitting with the Stones. In 1969, John Lennon persuaded the other Beatles that Klein should take over the group's business affairs, but Paul McCartney resisted the move and some music historians say the appointment hastened the Beatles' split.

Lennon later fell out with Klein, who was thought to be the target of the former Beatle's 1974 song "Steel and Glass."

Defending his tough style, Klein told Playboy magazine in 1971: "The music business is about 99 percent no-talent losers who can't stand a winner in their midst."

In 1971, Klein worked with George Harrison to organize the "Concert for Bangladesh" at Madison Square Garden, one of the first major benefit concerts of the rock era. Ringo Starr was among the all-stars who performed at the concert.

Late in his career, Klein agreed to license a sample of a Rolling Stones song to the British group the Verve for their hit single "Bittersweet Symphony." But after the song was released, ABKCO successfully argued in court that the Verve had used too much of the sample and won 100 percent of the song's royalties.

Klein is survived by his wife Betty, their three children and four grandchildren. Services will be held in New York on Tuesday.

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