The vicious song John Lennon wrote about Allen Klein

Throughout his career, John Lennon established himself as a rather complex character. His position within The Beatles was undoubtedly one of power, being the eldest of the four, but his laid-back class-clown demeanour seemed to conceal a deeper gravity. Following the squabbling demise of the Beatles in 1970, Lennon began to address these inner conflicts while maintaining a forthright stance on global peace.

In 1973, Lennon entered what would become known as his ‘Lost Weekend’, 18 months marked by a romantic affair with May Pang, a production coordinator who worked on his and Ono’s music. After a significant spell of marital issues, Ono and Lennon separated, while Lennon embarked on a short-lived relationship with Pang. The Beatle would later return to Ono and lament this period of his life.

Lennon, still trying to remain creative, wrote and recorded much of his fifth studio album, Walls and Bridges, during this dark patch. Besides the popular singles, ‘Whatever Gets You thru the Night’ and ‘#9 Dream’, Lennon included ‘Steel and Glass’, a rather bitter song targeted at Allen Klein, the notorious manager and business director. Klein briefly managed The Rolling Stones and Sam Cooke but most notably took control of The Beatles’ business affairs in 1969 following Brian Epstein’s tragic passing.

Following The Beatles’ breakup, Klein maintained ties with Lennon, working with him on his 1971 solo album, Imagine. However, shortly thereafter, the relationship between the two turned sour, prompting Lennon’s cutting lyrics, “Your mother left you when you were small, but you’re gonna wish you were never born at all.”

Klein was accused of unethical and greedy business moves throughout his career, but he must’ve seriously offended Lennon to warrant the mention of his mother, who had passed away when he was young. As it turns out, Lennon’s bitterness was magnified by a sense of his own naivety.

When The Beatles signed their first deal with Klein in 1969, Paul McCartney expressed suspicion after hearing that The Rolling Stones had been duped in a past deal with the belligerent businessman; however, Lennon protested with blind faith. In Peter Jackson’s 2021 documentary Get Back, the late Beatle praises Klein in the run-up to the deal: “I want to tell you all at once. I just think he’s fantastic.”

Ultimately, the other Beatles outvoted McCartney, and a contract was signed. Throughout the early ’70s, Klein maintained a hold on Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr’s respective solo careers, but following an undetailed dispute, Lennon promptly fired Klein.

“There are many reasons why we finally gave [Klein] the push, although I don’t want to go into the details of it,” Lennon said in an interview with Weekend World in 1973, admitting that McCartney had been right. “Let’s say possibly Paul’s suspicions were right … and the time was right.”

Listen to John Lennon’s ‘Steel and Glass’ below.

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