“In the days immediately following Brian [Epstein]’s death,” according to Bob Spitz’s The Beatles,

“There was a big power grab,” recalls Alistair Taylor, who watched the action raptly from the sidelines. “The infighting was awful. Vic Lewis, Robert Stigwood, Peter Brown – the knives were out. Everybody wanted control of the Beatles.”

This comes under the subheading of “Beatles Business Details,” which I don’t find super-interesting, so I’ll keep this brief. The most notable name among these contenders is that of Robert Stigwood, who had a long and multifaceted career in the Long Plastic Hallway. A quick biographical sketch goes something like this:

Born in Australia in 1943, Stigwood emigrated to England in 1955. For awhile he worked at an “institution for backward teenage boys,” then founded a small theatrical agency. One of his clients recorded for the legendary Joe Meek, with whom Stigwood formed a brief partnership in the early 1960s. Over time he edged Meek out and became a record producer himself, though he was not a musician; he was more the old-style kind of producer who paid for studio time, let others do the work, and took all the credit and the profit.

In the mid-Sixties he booked the Who, managed Cream, and promoted a (disastrous) Chuck Berry tour. In January 1967 he signed a deal with Brian Epstein to merge their two companies; Epstein even entertained the idea of letting Stigwood take over as The Beatles’ manager. The band was not keen on the idea. According to Paul,

We said, “In fact, if you do, if you somehow manage to pull this off, we can promise you one thing. We will record ‘God Save the Queen’ for every single record we make from now on and we’ll sing it out of tune. That’s a promise. So if this guy buys us, that’s what he’s buying.”

It’s kind of too bad this didn’t happen; they might have invented the Sex Pistols 10 years early.

After Epstein’s death, the aforementioned power struggle ensued, culminating in Stigwood leaving to form his own company, The Robert Stigwood Organisation (RSO). He did well. RSO found success in music (Eric Clapton, Blind Faith, the Bee Gees), theater (Hair, Oh! Calcutta!), and movies (Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy). It peaked in 1977–78, when RSO Films released Saturday Night Fever and Grease, both with bajillion-selling soundtracks on RSO Records.

Crazed with hubris, Stigwood then oversaw two massive fiascos: the 1978 movie Moment by Moment, which killed John Travolta’s career until Quentin Tarantino resurrected it in 1994, and the film adaptation of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees. The latter cratered so badly that the Earth was briefly thrown off its axis. No one involved was ever the same again, and while Stigwood did continue to produce movies (Times Square, Gallipoli, Evita) and plays, it was all downhill from there. He died in 2016 at the age of 81.

There, that’s 378 words. Not bad.



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