John Lennon signs contract to officially appoint Allen Klein as The Beatles’ business manager

Thursday, May 8, 1969
Timeline More from year 1969
Apple headquarters, 3 Savile Row, London, UK

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On February 3, 1969, Allen Klein had informally been appointed as The Beatles’ business manager, but it took three months for the contract to be drawn up and signed.

On this day, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr signed the contract to officially appoint him, and give him a 20% cut of their earnings, but Paul McCartney refused to sign it.

The thing is, I am not signed with Allen Klein because I don’t like him and I don’t think he is the man for me, however much the other three like him. The truth is, he only has three quarters of The Beatles and, in fact, he doesn’t have The Beatles. He is definitely the manager of John, George and Ringo, but I have asked him and I have told him that he doesn’t manage me.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

Part of my reason for not wishing to have Klein as manager was based on what he failed to do between the beginning of that year (1969) and May. Klein told us, ‘We’ll get it (NEMS) for nothing.’ This is a typical example of the exaggerated way Klein expressed himself to us at the time, and it was because of moments like this, that I gradually became more and more determined that Klein was not the right man to be appointed manager.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

I’ve got two alternatives. One is just to fall in with the fold, going with Klein and going with the group, and doing what the other three want to do on their path, which is virtually to be managed by Klein, or I can do what I think is right.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

The day after, during a session at Olympic Sound Studios, the three Beatles would try to convince Paul McCartney once again to sign the contract, but Paul would refuse.

I said, ‘Hell take 15 per cent. We’re massive, we’re the biggest act in the world, he’ll take 15 per cent.’ But for some reason the three of them were so keen to go with him that they really bullied me and ganged up on me. It sounds a bit wimpy but anyway they outvoted me on these issues. They said, ‘He’s got to have 20 per cent.’ And Klein of course saw all this and said, ‘I can’t do it for any less than this. My board back in America won’t allow it …’ Now the idea that Klein was run by some sort of board was a complete fiction. It was him and his assistant Peter Howard. Klein was the board, you only had to look on his letterhead. But they believed it.

They went, ‘No, he’s got to have a board meeting, he’s told us. Tomorrow, Saturday.’ I said, ‘I’ve never heard of anyone doing any work on a Saturday, certainly not him.’ They said, ‘You’re just stalling.’ They were completely besotted with this guy. I said, ‘No, I’m not. I want a good deal out of this guy. I don’t think we should just run and jump into his arms. I’ll wait to Monday before we ratify anything. My lawyer will be present on Monday. I happen to have a Jewish lawyer. What can I say to him? “Change your bloody religion, man, I need you”? You can’t do that.’ And they said, ‘Well, we’ll do it without you,’ which they couldn’t, that was why they needed me otherwise I don’t think they’d have bothered showing up. So they said, ‘Oh, fuck off!’ and they all stormed off, leaving me with the session at Olympic.

Paul McCartney – from “Many Years From Now”, by Barry Miles, 1997

It’s more of a personal thing, you know, the management situation, because Apple was Paul’s idea and once he started going he was very active in there and then it got very chaotic. Then, once we all started doing something about Apple, obviously, Paul didn’t have as much say in the matter and then, because he wanted Lee Eastman, his in-laws, to run it and we didn’t, it soon became a problem. That’s a personal problem that he will have to get over. The reality is that he’s outvoted and we are a partnership.

George Harrison – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

On May 22, Apple Corps would release the following press statement:

Allen Klein is to receive 20 per cent of The Beatles’ income through Apple Corps. Klein has now been officially appointed as The Beatles’ business manager […]

As part of his new official role, Allen Klein started on this day a cost-cutting exercise, by sacking 16 staff members including Ron Kass, US manager for Apple, and Alistair Taylor, Apple’s general manager, who had previously been Brian Epstein’s personal assistant.

[Allen Klein] just moved in and started firing people. He got rid of everybody he could possibly clear out, either by taking their work away, so that there was nothing for them to do, or by making their jobs so uncomfortable they felt obliged to quit. He didn’t like people who were close to The Beatles. He was worried they would go back and report them. As soon as Ron Kass went, everybody was worried.

Apple’s secretary Dee Meehan – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

The Beatles wanted to be rid of the leeches, but were embarrassed to fire them. So, they asked me to do it.

Allen Klein – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

I was trying to run a sensible business and in a way, I shot myself in the foot again, after turning down the 2.5%. I was getting exasperated as money was flowing out like there was no tomorrow. I managed to get the four lads together and said we need a top businessman here. So off they went and three of them got Allen Klein and I was sacked – end of Beatle career. For about 15 years after I was sacked I didn’t want to know about pop music and sold more of my Beatles records.

Alistair Taylor – From Alistair Taylor – The Beatles ‘Mr Fixit’ – Beatles in London, 1995 interview

When I got back to his office Peter Brown was sitting in his swivel chair and talking on the telephone to Ron Kass. In his hand was a piece of paper with a list of names on it.

‘Yes, Ron, I’m afraid they are both sacked,’ said Peter tersely. All of a sudden, the penny started to drop. I realised why I had been summoned. The expression on Peter’s face confirmed my fears. I asked, ‘Me as well?’

‘Yes,’ he answered. He handed me the list which had over a dozen names on it, all numbered, with mine at the top.

‘Today,’ said Peter. I was shocked, but I was not surprised. ‘You are joking, aren’t you?’ I gasped as I struggled to come to terms with my life being turned upside-down. ‘No, I’m not,’ replied Peter sadly. ‘Alistair, I wanted to tell you myself before one of Allen Klein’s people told you.’

Alistair Taylor – From “With The Beatles”, 2003

I went back to my office to ring the boys. Not to plead for my job back but just to make sure that they knew what was going on. The whole philosophy of Apple was taking care of people, so I felt sure they would want information. I rang each of them: Paul, John, George and Ringo, in that order. And not one of them took my call. I got excuses from embarrassed wives and secretaries. I heard nervous Beatle voices in the background. But not one of my four famous friends came to the phone. And that hurt a hell of a lot more than getting the sack.

Alistair Taylor – From “With The Beatles”, 2003

It is not possible to be nice about giving someone the sack.

Paul McCartney – when asked about the way Apple was handling the termination of employees

From John Lennon signs contract appointing Allen Klein business manager of The Beatles – The Beatles Bible

20% of Apple for Klein?

Beatles business manager Allen Klein is to receive 20 per cent of the Beatles income through Apple Corps, according to a report in the American trade magazine “Billboard”.

Apple announced this week that Klein had now been officially appointed as the Beatles business manager.

They had no comment on the U.S. reports.

From New Musical Express, May 24, 1969
From New Musical Express, May 24, 1969

Klein in New Beatles’ Tie

LONDON – Allen Klein has been appointed business manager of the Beatles. Although no official announcement of the appointment has been made, it’s understood that Klein has signed a contract to act as the Beatles’ business manager for one year. It’s also understood that he will receive 20 per cent of the income from Apple Corps., the Beatles’ organization.

From Billboard, May 24, 1969
From Billboard, May 24, 1969

From CashBox Magazine, May 31, 1969
From CashBox Magazine, July 12, 1969

Last updated on February 3, 2022

Going further

The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years

"With greatly expanded text, this is the most revealing and frank personal 30-year chronicle of the group ever written. Insider Barry Miles covers the Beatles story from childhood to the break-up of the group."

We owe a lot to Barry Miles for the creation of those pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - a day to day chronology of what happened to the four Beatles during the Beatles years!

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