Allen Klein offers Brian Epstein to sign The Beatles to RCA in the US

March 1964

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From Allen Klein: Notorious business manager for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones | The Independent | The Independent:

In 1963, Klein renegotiated [Sam] Cooke’s deal with RCA, after serving papers on the label requesting an audit on royalties. Having secured $110,000 as back payment on royalties owed, on which he earned a “finder’s fee” of 25 per cent Klein set up Tracey as a separate label licensing Cooke’s masters to RCA, thus guaranteeing the soul singer artistic control. Klein also convinced Cooke to perform the epochal “A Change Is Gonna Come”, a song which would come to define the civil rights era and became a hit after the singer’s death.

“Sometimes, I don’t know how I was able to get certain things done. I certainly am persistent,” Klein said. “I try to have all the facts so that when I make a decision, it’s with the inclusion of everything that I know. And there is no short-term thing. I’m not going to make a deal that is based on just one day or one record. Can’t do it. It has to be based on belief. I hate the word, everybody uses it, but it’s a vision.”

In March 1964, Klein had his first encounter with the Beatles entourage when he offered Epstein the opportunity to sign to RCA in the US for $2m but this was turned down. However, Klein made the most of his visit to the UK and became the conduit into the lucrative American market for several British Invasion acts.

LIKE MILLIONS OF OTHERS, Allen Klein had become fixated on the Beatles, though his reason was unique. Allen knew they needed him as their business manager. […]

Klein didn’t even have to make the first move. Murray Kaufman, a popular New York disk jockey known as Murray the K, had cultivated a relationship with the band on their first trip to New York (Murray often referred to himself on air as “the fifth Beatle”), and he told Allen that Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager, wanted Sam Cooke as an opening act for an American tour. After booking a flight to London, Allen paid a visit to Joe D’Imperio, the RCA executive with whom he’d negotiated Cooke’s recording contract, to tell him of his upcoming trip. What kind of advance, Allen asked, would RCA be willing to pay the Beatles if he could convince them to switch record companies? D’Imperio instructed Klein to offer one million dollars and a royalty of 10 percent.

In London, Klein relayed the offer to Epstein—but not before deciding it wouldn’t be rich enough to sway him. “I can get you two million if you take the Beatles to RCA,” Klein said, immediately fearful Epstein would agree and then discover Klein couldn’t deliver. He needn’t have worried.

“I’m sure that’s very generous,” Epstein replied coolly, “but I have loyalty. All of my acts are at EMI and I’m loyal to EMI.” That was true enough—though that loyalty didn’t particularly benefit the Beatles.

From Goodman, Fred. Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll (p. 62). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Last updated on September 27, 2023

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