Sunday, July 05, 2009

The bell tolls twice more

Allen Klein: The infamous music executive who once managed the affairs of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones passed away Saturday at age 77.

Klein's original interest was in accounting, but encouraged by his friend Don Kirshner, he became involved in the music business. He quickly gained a reputation as a hard-nosed sleuth who found his clients thousands of dollars worth of unpaid royalties. Klein did this job so well for Bobby Darin and Sam Cooke that they asked him to become their manager. He was able to negotiate a very favorable deal for Cooke that gave the artist an unusually high royalty rate for the time as well as the rights to his recordings. He also made inroads into the British music scene, striking a management deal with producer Mickie Most that gave Klein access to many of the top British Invasion acts. With his earnings, he bought the Cameo-Parkway label out of bankruptcy, changing the label's name to ABKCO and acquiring the rights to their recordings.

His reputation was such that in 1965 Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham hired Klein to look after the band's business affairs. The tough-talking Klein impressed the Stones from the outset - Mick Jagger said, “Andrew sold him to us as a gangster figure, someone outside the establishment. We found that rather attractive.” Klein eventually bought out Oldham's share of the Stones' management, then proceeded to anger his clients by buying the rights to their publishing. Years of lawsuits followed, with the last one finally settled in 1984. The Stones won the right to set up their own management company, but Klein retained the rights to their music prior to 1971.

After acquiring the Stones' management, Klein set his sights on the biggest prize in the music business - The Beatles. After the death of Brian Epstein, the Fab Four's business affairs fell into chaos. Paul McCartney suggested that his father-in-law Lee Eastman step in as their manager, but this did not sit well with the other three Beatles. After Klein read a statement by John Lennon to the press that they would be broke in six months if their current situation continued, he informed Lennon of his interest in managing them. When the two met, Lennon was impressed with Klein's knowledge of their music, and he convinced George Harrison and Ringo Starr that Klein was the man for the job. Klein was able to negotiate a substantially high royalty rate for the group, but was unable to prevent the sale of their publishing to ATV. He never did win the trust of Paul McCartney, he alienated many of the group's long-time employees used to a more relaxed management style, and he generally aggravated the already-strained relations between the band members. After the breakup of The Beatles, Klein continued to work with Lennon and Harrison until his questionable handling of the proceeds from the Concert For Bangladesh led to another round of lawsuits that drug on for years.

Klein was convicted of tax fraud in 1979, but only served two months in prison. Although mostly inactive in his later years, he guaranteed himself a healthy income through his ownership of the rights to the music of the early Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke, and many other artists.

Steve McNair: The former all-star NFL quarterback and league MVP was found murdered in his condo Saturday afternooon. He was only 36.

McNair first came to notice during a stellar collegiate career at Alcorn State University in Mississippi, where he rewrote the school's record book. In his senior year, "Air" McNair gained over 6000 yards in combined passing and rushing, and accounted for 53 touchdowns. The then-Houston Oilers chose him with the third overall pick in the 1995 draft.

McNair sat and watched his first two seasons, then took over at starting quarterback in 1997 as the Oilers played in their temporary home in Memphis. Over the next two seasons, McNair's throwing and running blended with Eddie George's hard-nosed ballcarrying to form the heart of the team's offense. In 1999, the renamed Tennessee Titans, now at home in Nashville, reached the Super Bowl with McNair confidently at the helm. In Super Bowl XXXIV, McNair led the Titans back from a 16-0 deficit against the St. Louis Rams to tie the score in the fourth quarter. Rams quarterback Kurt Warner threw a touchdown pass to give the Rams a 23-16 lead. With time for one more drive, McNair led the Titans to the one-yard line before a game-saving tackle as time ran out won the game for the Rams.

With Eddie George on the decline, the Titans relied on McNair to pass the ball more frequently, and he responded in 2002 and 2003 with the best seasons of his career statistically, and leading the Titans to the playoffs both seasons. In 2003 he threw 24 touchdown passes and shared the NFL's Most Valuable Player Award with Peyton Manning. But McNair's gritty style of play was begining to take its toll on his body. He missed the second half of the 2004 season with a bruised sternum, struggled with leg and shoulder problems from earlier seasons, and after an inefective 2005 left the Titans for the Baltimore Ravens. He stayed healthy in 2006 and led Baltimore to the AFC North title, but after an injury-plagued 2007 McNair announced his retirement.

McNair wwas found dead in his condo from multiple gunshot wounds. A female companion, Sahel Kazemi, was also found dead from a single gunshot wound at the scene.