The Andrew Loog Oldham story is one of the cornerstones of the 1960s. He was the Rolling Stones second manager and established them as one of the most important bands in rock’n’roll history. He also launched one of the first independent record labels, Immediate Records, which included The Nice, Chris Farlowe, Small Faces and a host of other 1960s legends.
This is the blog of the Andrew Loog Oldham Story on Music for Grown Ups on Meridian FM, 5 October 2017.
ANDREW LOOG OLDHAM STORY
Born in Paddington, London on 29 January 1944, the Andrew Loog Oldham story starts in 1961 in the fashion industry with a meeting with mod designer John Stevenson, known as the “King of Carnaby Street”. This proved to be unsuccessful but he did go on to work as an assistant to fashion designer Mary Quant.
He then changed his focus to the music business and established himself as a publicist for Larry Parnes. He formed a publicity company with Peter Meaden but they parted company before Oldham met the Rolling Stones. During this pre-Stones era he worked with Joe Meek as a publicist for the song Magic Star, a vocal version of The Tornados’ international hit, Telstar The song was written and produced by Joe Meek, and released by Kenny Hollywood. His experience with future superstars grew when he publicised Bob Dylan’s first UK visit to appear in the BBC radio play, The Madhouse on Castle Street on 13 January 1963. This was Dylan’s first-ever broadcast of Blowing in the Wind. Oldham also worked briefly with Brian Epstein’s NEMS acts, including Billy J Kramer and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
This was the perfect background to prepare for his first meeting with the Rolling Stones at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond (West London) on 28 April 1963. Giorgio Gomelsky owned the Crawdaddy and was also the band’s first manager. Oldham offered Brian Epstein an investment stake in the Stones but this was declined. Oldham parted company with NEMS, teamed up with booking agent Eric Easton and signed up the Rolling Stones.
Oldham had a very clear idea of the image he wanted for the Rolling Stones. He wanted the band to be the antithesis of the clean-cut, family-friendly Beatles. He promoted them as the wilder end of rock’n’roll, would you want your daughter to go out with a Rolling Stone… He demoted pianist Ian Stewart from band member to road manager. He didn’t feel that Stewart had the right image for the band, although he was allowed to play on many of the band’s recordings. He moved the focus away from Brian Jones to Mick Jagger and encouraged Jagger and Keith Richard to write their own songs.
When the Stones signed up with Oldham on 1 May 1963, they were actually signing up with Andrew Loog Oldham and Eric Easton’s Impact Sound. Oldham sorted out a record deal with Decca but the band did not sign up directly with the record company. Instead, the deal was between Decca and Impact Sound. Crucially the master tapes were owned by Impact Sound and leased to Decca. A strategy Oldham had picked up from “wall of sound” producer Phil Spector. Impact Sound received 14% from Decca: Stones 6% with 8% going to Impact Sound. The band also paid a management fee of 25% out of their 6% cut. The Stones reputedly did not know about this additional 25% cut of their 6%.
The Stones released their first UK single, a cover of Chuck Berry’s Come On on 7 June 1963. Their first American release, the Jagger/Richard composition Tell Me, was released on 12 June 1964 and gave them their first US hit, reaching #24 on Billboard‘s pop chart. Tell Me was not released as a single in the UK, it was available on their first album.
Andrew Loog Oldham was always a man to express his opinions. When Cilla Black released her cover of You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling in the UK on 8 January 1965, he famously placed an in Melody Maker promoting the Righteous Brothers’ original version. Whether this had an effect of the success of each is impossible to know but the resulting UK chart places were, Cilla Black #2 and Righteous Brothers #1.
In the summer of 1965, Andrew Loog Oldham hired Allen Klein as his business partner. Klein drew up a new contract with Decca which cut Eric Easton out. Easton sued.
The new deal now gave 7% to band and 7% to Impact Sound, with no additional 25% cut of the band’s 7%. Allen Klein set up Gideon Music to administer Jagger and Richard song copyrights. This gave Klein 28% and Oldham/Jagger/Richards 72%; plus a $1m advance. Klein took 20% of Impact Sound’s 7%.
On 20 August 1965 Andrew Oldham and Tony Calder launched Immediate Records, with three singles: Fifth Avenue’s Bells of Rhymney, produced by Jimmy Page (Pete Seeger had recorded the song live with Sonny Terry in 1958, the lyrics were based on Idris Davies’s 1938 poem); pre-Velvet Underground Nico’s I’m Not Sayin’; and The McCoys’ Hang on Sloopy, released under license from Bang Records.
Andrew Loog Oldham’s extra-Rolling Stones activities continued, as he helped to publicise the Beach Boys iconic albumPet Sounds. He has been reported as introducing Paul McCartney to the album.
The end of his relationship with the Rolling Stones came after Mick Jagger and Keith Richard’s drugs bust on 12 February 1967. Oldham was concerned that he might be dragged into the drug issues and fled to America, leaving Allen Klein to sort it out. His last Stones production was We Love You, released on 18 August 1967. Andrew Loog Oldham sold his share in the Rolling Stones to Allen Klein. Impact Sound owned the Stones compositions – they were now owned by Allen Klein and his ABKCO. In 1997 the Verve released the album Urban Hymns which included the track Bitter Sweet Symphony The track used a sample of Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra’s version of The Last Time. Allen Klein decided that it was plagiarism, sued Verve and had the writing credit for the track reverted to Jagger and Richard.
The Andrew Loog Oldham story continued as he built up the success of Immediate Records. On 26 October 1966 Chris Farlowe released Ride on Baby, produced by Mick Jagger. Small Faces moved to Immediate from Decca and in June 1967, released their first single Here Come the Nice and their first album on the label. Other stars on the label included, PP Arnold, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Rod Stewart, The Nice, Eric Clapton and Amen Corner. When Small Faces imploded, Steve Marriott’s new band, Humble Pie, was one of the last bands to join Immediate and in August 1969 released the single Natural Born Bugie and the album Safe as Yesterday Is.
In 1970 Immediate Records went bankrupt.
In the 1970s and ‘80s Oldham worked mostly in America, producing Donovan, Gene Pitney and others. In the mid-1980s he made Colombia his home after marrying Colombian model, Esther Farfan. In 2005 he became a DJ on Stevie van Zant’s Underground Garage radio channel and in 2014 he was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in the category – Ahmet Ertegun Award.
Well, that’s a very quick look at the Andrew Loog Oldham story, one of rock’n’roll’s characters, who helped to shape the music world of the 1960s.