Many people have been blamed for the break-up of The Beatles, most notably Yoko Ono. But anybody with a brain recognises how much of an oversimplification it is to blame the break-up of a band, who were already crumbling in on themselves, on somebody’s romantic partner. However, if there’s one person who actually did have an impact on The Beatles’ infamous split in 1970, then it is Allen Klein. For Paul McCartney, Klein represented the very antithesis of everything The Beatles stood for.
In an interview prior to The Beatles’ split, Paul McCartney was asked to respond to the rumours that he had signed a contract with Klein, a businessman and label executive notorious for securing bands like The Rolling Stones huge advances. McCartney completely denied this: “The thing is I am not signed with Allen Klein because I don’t like him and I don’t think he’s the man for me however much the other three like him.”
The Beatles were introduced to Allen Klein after Brian Epstein’s death. When the question arose of who would manage The Beatles’ affairs now that Epstein had gone, McCartney suggested Lee Eastman be their manager. However, suspicious of a conflict of interest, the other Beatles wanted Allen Klein. What they didn’t know was that the cash advances he was so famous for securing didn’t actually go to the artists. Lee Eastman, aware of Klein’s suspect practices, informed McCartney, who quickly made his distrust of the businessman clear. However, the Beatles’ personalities were rubbing against one another by this time, and anonymity began spreading throughout the camp. To the other members, McCartney’s distrust of Klein seemed like just another example of McCartney trying to assert more control over the band.
When Paul was outvoted, and Klein made his way into the heart of The Beatles’ world, McCartney quickly realised that, in contrast to Epstein, he didn’t care about the wellbeing of his clients. The first thing Klein did was to fire all of the original staff of Apple corps and replace them with his own staff. One person who he tried to fire was Neil Aspinall, The Beatles’ beloved assistant and road manager. However, the group wouldn’t let him and they had to rally together to keep Aspinall on the team. But Klein continued to spit in the face of everything that McCartney held dear. In a desperate attempt to increase his own payroll, Klein willingly ignored the tensions between Lennon and McCartney and got Phil Spector to pimp-up the unfinished recordings from the Get Back sessions and released them as Let It Be, going to John rather than Paul for permission.
In Paul McCartney’s eyes, Allen Klein was one of the four horsemen of The Beatles apocalypse. He symbolised the end of an era in which The Beatles had managed to surround themselves with professionals who cared about more than money. Whilst Brian Epstein hadn’t been the sharpest businessman, he had been conscious of the importance of the band’s inner dynamic. Klein, however, came in like a bull in a china shop, trampling over the fragile relationships within the band, and leaving gaping chasms in his wake. Even today, McCartney avoids talking about Klein during interviews. There is a sense that he killed the joy that Paul found in The Beatles, and he can hardly bring himself to say his name. And perhaps that’s why Klein’s influence on the Beatles break-up is so often ignored. He is the dirty laundry that McCartney has no interest in airing.