THE ROT OF APPLE: SUE ME, SUE YOU.
In America, the anthology album (Beatles 1967-70) and Red Rose Speedway were back-to-back Number Ones. You were replacing yourself. Din that strike you as odd?
I thought it was good, rather than odd, because obviously the big hung up after the Beatles broke up was, and really still is, can any of them be as good as the unit? The answer in most people's minds. I think, is "No, they can't." Because the unit was so good.
Were you glad those anthology albums were released for the historical record or to combat the bootleggers?
The bootlegging thing was one of the reasons. I didn't take an awful lot of interest in them, actually. I still haven't heard them. I know what's on them because I've heard it all before, you know. I haven't really taken much interest in Beatles stuff of late just because there has been this hangover of Apple and Klein. The whole scene has gone so bloody sick. The four ex-Beatles are totally up to here with it. Everyone wants it solved so everyone can get on with being a bit peaceful with each other.
There was a lawsuit recently, the three others against Klein.
Of course I loved that. My God, I hope they win that. one. That's great. You see, apart from everything that came down, all the little personal conflicts, the reason why I felt I had to do what I had to do, which ended up specifically as being I had to sue the other three, was that there was no way I could sue Klein on his own, which is what I wanted to do. It took me months to get over the fact. I kept saying, I can't sue the other three, just because it's very hard news to go suing someone you like, and no matter what kind of personal things were going down and John writing songs about me and all that stuff, I still didn't feet the coolest thing in the world was to go and sue them. But it actually turned out to be the only way to stop Klein, so I had to go and do it.
Then it all started to come out, you know, that Klein had persuaded George - I don't know how much of this is libelous -
Our lawyers will take out whatever is libelous.
Klein made his way into George's big songwriting company, which is George's big asset. The main one was the song ''Something," that was on Abbey Road. That was kind of George's great big song, George's first big effort, and everyone covered it and it was lovely and made him lots of money that he could give away, which is his thing, you know. It was a great thing for him. Well, it turns out that Klein has got himself into that company. Not only paid 20% (the percentage Klein claimed to have gotten from Abbey Road) - there's a thought now that he's claiming he owns the company!
It's those kinds of little weird trips. Now the only good thing I feel is that I wasn't wrong. I would have felt really bad if I was wrong and the guy was really a goodie all along and I'd gone and stuck my big nose in there like the pot calling the kettle black. But it turns out he is the type of man who wants to own it for himself and not the type of man who beheves the artist should have it and do what he wants with it, which is what I beheve.
He was once quoted in New York magazine as saying he was going to roast your ass.
Yeah, well, he never did, you know, and that's cool. He wouldn't get near my ass to roast it, anyway. Punk.
You mentioned you had to sue the other three to get at Klein. What was Klein doing that made you have to sue?
Basically, I was being held to my obligations under an old contract. I would have to just sit, lump it, and let him be my manager, which I didn't want.
So I was told I could sue him. I said, "Great, I'll sue him." Then they said, "There's one catch, you have to sue Apple" - and that meant suing the other three. For two months I sat around thinking, "I can't do this." Not that I didn't see the others. I did, and kept asking them to let me out and they said, "No, Allen says there would be tax complications." I said, "I don't give a damn about tax considerations, let me go and I'll worry about the tax considerations. I don't want to be an ABKCO-Managed Industry." It was weird, my albums would come out saying "An ABKCO Company." and he wasn't even my manager.
As it turns out, it was the best thing, because that got the receiver in there and froze the money and gave everybody time to think about it. He's still managed to get §5 million transferred to his own company, five million for management (exact amount subject matter of litigation).
He has a very special gift for talking his way. He'll use his Playboy interviews, and he'll probably ask for a Rolling Stone interview after mine. Even a murderer has a great line in his own defence. But he's nothing more than a trained New York crook. John said, "Anyone whose record is as bad as this can't be so bad." Bui that was Lennonesque crap, which John occasionally did; utter foolishness. Klein had already been convicted on ten counts of income tax. (Criminal docket 66-72 of US District Court, Southern District of New York, shows one Allen Klein found guilty January 29th, 1971, on ten counts of "unlawfully failing to make and file returns of Federal income taxes and FICA taxes withheld from employees' wages." Conviction affirmed on appeal by US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit November 19th, 1971). My back was against the wall. I'm not proud of it. But it had to be done. To him, artists are money. To me, they're more than that.
If Klein was the big reason for the breakup of Apple, do you think there would have been difficulties anyway without him?
I think there would have been difficulties. Had the Eastmans come in like I wanted, the others would have feared I was trying to screw everyone for the Eastmans. It would have been a bit hard for the others to swallow, I'm afraid, since the Eastmans were so close to me. But they didn't want to screw anybody, and the way it's turning out they're settling up most of it anyway. Some people say, "People are all the same in business," but they're not.
In thinking of James Taylor and some of the other Apple artists, do you think Apple turned out to be a good idea for them?
I think the Apple thing was great. As it turned out, the one thing about business is that it does have to be looked after. If you have paperwork and bills and royalties and accounts and stuff, they all have to be handled very well, or else things get lost and then accountants have great difficulty in making up the final picture for taxes.
Apple was together in a lot of other ways. Although he didn't get treated brilliantly at Apple, it was right for James Taylor to make his first record then. I think it was shameful of them to sue him afterwards, but I think that was largely Klein's instigation because of the way he works. He's kind of, "OK, let's git the bastard. He's left us and he's a success, let's sue him. We got him, we got his contract."
But I still think all the records that came out of it, Billy Preston and James Taylor, Badfinger, Mary Hopkin, all the people we did take on all had very good records. George, even with the Radha Krishna Temple, I think that's great stuff. I don't think you can fault any of the artistic decisions. Looking back on it I think it was really a very successful thing.
The main downfall is that we were less businessmen and more heads, which was very pleasant and very enjoyable, except there should have been the man in there who would tell us to sign bits of paper. We got a man in who started to say, come on, sign it all over to me, which was the fatal mistake.
Just as I was going to do a radio show interview the other day, just as I was walking in, this feller walked up to me and said, "Hello, Paul," and I thought I'd seen him somewhere before. He looked kind of middle-aged, 50ish, and I thought, "What's he want with me? Looks a bit dubious." He pushed a little bit of paper in me hand, he said, '"I don't want to embarrass you, Paul, I'm sure you know what this is all about, but I've got my job to do.'' A wife and three kids, all that. So I walked on, muttering, looked at the bit of paper and it says ''ABKCO hereby sue you, John, George and Ringo and everything you've ever been connected with," in so many words, companies I'd never even heard of. "Sue you all for the sum of $20 million." That is the latest little line.
I'm not trying to be immodest by classing myself with Van Gogh or with the biggies in the artistic world, but it is just a pure continuation of that kind of story. The whole idea of whoever makes the thing not being given the profits of it isn't a new idea. I think it's a joke, trying to sue us for that amount of money. It is just purely that he thinks, in some way, that he owns us. The laugh is that on that whole Klein thing there is one key thing which I luckily would never sign, so I feel a little bit out of that one, I must say.
Linda mentioned Lew Grade's claim that she couldn't write.
That was an old one. Around that time we had millions of suits flying here, flying there. Geurge wrote the 'Sue Me, Sue You Blues' about it. I'd kicked it all off originally, having to sue the other three Beatles in the High Court, and that opened Pandora's box. After that everybody just seemed to be suing everybody.
Meanwhile Lew Grade suddenly saw his songwriting concessions, which he'd just paid an awful lot of money for, virtually to get hold of John and I, he suddenly saw that I was now claiming that I was writing half my stuff with Linda, and that if I was writing half of it she was entitled to a pure half of it, no matter whether she was a recognized songwriter or not. I didn't think that was important, I thought that whoever I worked with, no matter what the method of collaboration was, that person, if they did help me on the song, should have a portion of the song for helping me. I think at the time their big organization suddenly thought, "Hello, they're pulling a fast one, they're trying to get some of the money back," whereas in fact, it was the truth. So they slapped vast amounts on us, I can't remember what.
I wrote Sir Lew Grade a long letter saying, "Don't you think I ought to be able to do this and do that and don't you think I've done enough and don't yon think I'm OK and - Hey, man, why have you gotta sue me?''' He wrote me back a very rational letter. I can't remember exactly what it said, but it was a very nice letter. He's actually OK, Lew, he's all right.
You did a TV show for him (James Paul McCartney).
After it, yeah, that's right. All the suits were dropped by then. (Bites his tongue).
Your two big television shows were James Paul McCartney and Magical Mystery Tour. How were these conceived?
The Mystery show was conceived way back in Los Angeles. On the plane. Yon know they give you those big menus and I had a pen and everything and started drawing on this menu and I had this idea. In England they have these things called Mystery tours. And you go on them and you pay so much and you don't know where you're going. So the idea was to have this little thing advertised in the shop windows somewhere called Magical Mystery Tours. Someone goes in and buys a ticket and rather than just being the kind of normal publicity type of magical… well, it never was magical, really... the idea of the show was that it was actually a magical run... a real magical trip.
I did a few little sketches myself and everyone else thought up a couple of little things. John thought of a little thing and George thought of a scene and we just kind of built it up. Then we hired a coach and picked actors out of an actor's directory and we just got them all along with the coach and we said, "OK, act." An off-the-cuff kind of thing.
The James Paul McCartney show were these people who wanted us to do a TV show and they said they wanted a nice show and said you can do it anyway you want. This seemed like a good opportunity, you know, to kinda get on the telly. So that one was just worked up that way. We met the guy when we went to Morocco. We were on holiday then and they came out and sat around the pool and talked about various ideas and came back to England and did it.
Were you sorry Magical Mystery Tour was not shown in America?
At the time, hey, I thought, "Oh, blimey," but... eh... it started out to be one of those kind of things like The Wild One, you know, Marlon Brando... at the time it couldn't be released. The interest in it came later. The interest started to grow, you know. Magical Mystery Tour was a bit like that... well, whatever happened to it... that's a bit magical itself. Like the Stones' Rock and Roll Circus. You know, what happened to that, you know. I mean, I'd like to see that. So all of those things work out well. You've got to be patient. Everything like that works out well. I think it was a good show. It will have its day, you know.
There was an interesting reaction to James Paul McCartney. Some people liked some parts and didn't like others.
I can understand that. You know, I think a lot of people thought we could have done more... could have done a better show. It was a little bitty (a British expression for "disjointed"). That was a fair comment, but I got a lot of letters from people, you know, just people, old people, from like Red Creek, Minnesota, just saying "Hey man, dug the show, you know."
Had George (Harrison) invited you to the Bangla Desh benefit?
George invited me, and I must say it was more than just visa problems. At the time there was the whole Apple thing. When the Beatles broke up, at first I thought, "Right, broken up, no more messing with any of that." George came up and asked if I wanted to play Bangla Desh and I thought, blimey, what's the point? We've just broken up and we're joining up again! It just seemed a bit crazy.
There were a lot of things that went down then, most of which I've forgotten now. I really felt annoyed - "I'm not going to do that if he won't bloody let me out of my contract." Something like that. For years there had been problems as to why the other three felt they couldn't just rip up our partnership agreement. I thought it was crazy if we had split up as a band to have this piece of paper still going on. We were all tied into it and I wanted to break it up and they said "Tax, you can't." Klein was saying, "You can't do it, lads, you've got to stay together,'' and I think I know why he was saying it. He was telling the others It was tax and it was impossible and stuff.
There was an awful lot of that, and a lot of what I did around then was just out of bitterness at all that. I thought, 'This is crazy, no one like's me enough to just let me go, give me my little bit of the proceeds and let me split off." It was a little tit-for-tat, if you're not going to do this for me, I'm not going to do that for you. I tend to see the others now just for the business. It's a bit daft, actually. That's why I'm so hot to get these business things over with.
Lee (Eastman) said the show you'll do for Phoenix House as part of the arrangement for your visa will be part of a tour.
The only thing now, obviously, is that it's dependent on getting a band together. The Phoenix House people helped to get me in. It's a good cause. We just went down to see one of their branches in East Harlem, just now. It's fantastic. I wasn't thinking it would be much, I thought it would be a bit depressing. But it's a beautiful place. There's a lot of love in that place. And it's not the kind of a state thing. There's discipline, too, but the discipline comes out of love. That way no one minds the discipline. If you just start off with discipline and nothing else, a lot of the kids find it hard to do it. But they're all very self-supporting now. It's a great place, I must say. Anyone who's in trouble with drugs, pills, junk, or whatever, should take a look in the Phoenix House.
What was the reaction of the kids when you went in there?
Great. We just shook hands. Their choir sang some songs and we went on a little tour of the house. There was a guy telling us about encounter meetings, how he was putting the bathroom in, doing all the plumbing himself - they're all very proud, because they're all people who almost messed up. They just made it, and most of them look like they can really go on to great strength because of it.
Would you like America to be a big proper tour or small, like your university tour?
A big proper tour. I think if you're coming to the States, you can't do it funky. I don't think I could, anyway. I think now I'll be ready to do a big concert tour, although I find it hard to imagine at the moment.
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