Stones’ Costly Music (Biz) Lesson-
I just finished the Keith Richards’ bio, Life, and am wondering how my sailing buddy Paul, a road manager and advance man for such groups as the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Kiss and the Band, survived the entertainment business.
There may be some distant mutual respect on the part of Richards for one-time Stones manager Allen Klein, who handled them from about 1965 to 1970. However, there is no love lost.
In an abject lesson in IP slight-of-hand, Klein managed to appropriate the rights to seminal pre-1971 Stones recordings, like Heart of Stone and Last Time, including the publishing to Satisfaction. Klein, who died last year, also was associated with disputes involving the Beatles, who he also managed. It’s been said that he played a part in their break-up.
There are at least two sides to every story, and it would be interesting to know why the cash-strapped Stones may have decided to yield ownership of their earlier work or never bought them back.
Klein was said to be a nasty son-of-a-gun who convinced clients he knew how to deal with record labels and wily concert promoters and was able secure deals that others could not. He was an attack dog, their attack dog, useful in this capacity until he turned on them. (John and Yoko continued to work with Klein for a time after the Beatles split.)
In Life, Richards says the costly lessons learned in dealing with Klein were worth it. It enabled the Stones to improve their business acumen. “It was the price of an education,” he says. Klein did help the Stones secure a benchmark record deal with Decca, according to Richards, the best for its time. (You may recall that Michael Jackson purchased much of the Beatles catalogue in 1985, which they no longer owned. It’s strange how these things happen, even to the most successful artists.)
Despite the drugs and controversy that have come to characterize Richards past, he paints himself as a loyal mate, tireless composer, eternal rocker; a dedicated musician to Sir Mick’s knighted pop star. He calls Mr. Jagger “Her Majesty.”
Richards is thoughtful if not reflective, slow to judge and generous to most, even those whom he believes have undermined him and his work, including Mick who he has known since grammar school.
Would you trust your IP to this man?
Once clean of drugs, Richards found Jagger had moved on, and was reluctant to allow him back into the business side of the Stones. The resentment lingers. The book shows it’s difficult to know what makes a partnership work.
Rock pirate and ex-heroin addict Richards is not as unsteady as he might appear. He was with partner actress Anita Pallenberg for 12 years and his wife, ‘model Patti Hansen, for 30. He’s been playing, recording composing with Mick for over 50 years, and he doesn’t seem to have forgotten any of it.
Life’s worth reading.
Illustration source: musictimes.com.au