Allen Klein, born December 18, 1931, died on Saturday, July 4, 2009 at 77 years of age. I met Allen twice at his office on 1700 Broadway, 41st Fl. in Manhattan while I was in business with the late Jimmy Miller, producer of over 100 songs by The Rolling Stones.
Klein’s reputation was one of a tough businessman – and that he parted ways with two of the biggest acts in history is as important to the story as the fact that he represented two of the biggest acts in history. The Huffington Post and the Associated Press noted that “He is survived by a longtime companion, Iris Keitel; his estranged wife, Betty; three children, four grandchildren and a sister.” Ms. Keitel ran the ABKCO offices on Broadway and was always polite …it is a fact that I was in awe listening to Allen’s son, Jody Klein, as he played us back production work by Sam Cooke on a three track machine. There in the very professional offices atop of Broadway in Manhattan were big cardboard boxes chock full of reel-to-reel tapes and there we stood – the legendary Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller and this writer listening to Sam Cooke’s voice being played back for the first time in maybe 30 years. Cooke (who passed away on December 11, 1964) was producing – not singing- on these tracks and he could be heard talking to the artist in the studio. It is also interesting to note that Cooke was born on January 22, 1931 and Klein on December 18 of that same year.
Love him or not, Klein’s company has carefully catalogued important music and, though there is controversy over the mixes and the master tapes in regards to The Rolling Stones recordings, that only adds to the intrigue. We can always find a company to go back to the master tapes – the fans getting ahold of rare mixes and out-takes, that makes for collectible discs and the Hot Rocks issues have had their share of collectible offerings. The original Hot Rocks had the rare “Brown Sugar” including slide guitar while latter day Hot Rocks reissues were said to be different on the two sides of the Atlantic ocean. Something worth doing a search on.
In any case, Allen Klein was certainly a notable character in Rock & Roll and his passing marks the end of an era.