I love reading about Exile on Main Street almost as much as I love listening to it. As a few of you know, my short story “Tumbling Dice,” which was written as part of an Oregon Coast Workshop and subsequently published by Analog last year, was essentially a retelling of that album–or at least heavily influenced by it.
If you’re a fan of the Rolling Stones, you’ll want to read this entire article. Because, well … because it’s about the Stones and about their situation and their art and all that good stuff.
If you’re a writer, or anyone else in the “entertainment” industry, you’ll at least want to read through and think about this little gem:
“Mick slipped into the room, wearing a green tweed suit,” Loewenstein goes on.“We sat and talked for an hour or so. It was a good, long chat. His manner was careful. The essence of what he told me was,‘I have no money. None of us have any money.’ Given the success of the Stones, he could not understand why none of the money they were expecting was even trickling down to the band members.”
It took Loewenstein eighteen months to untangle the contracts and deals. He explained the problem to the band in 1970: Klein advised you to incorporate in the United States for tax purposes; as this new company was given the same name as your British concern— Nanker Phelge (named after their old Edith Grove housemate)— you’ve assumed it’s the same company; it’s not. The American Nanker Phelge is owned by Allen Klein; you are his employees. Royalties, publishing fees—all of it belongs to Klein, who can pay you as he sees fit. This also gives Klein ownership of just about every one of your songs. “They were completely in the hands of a man who was like an old-fashioned Indian moneylender,” Loewenstein writes, “who takes everything and only releases to others a tiny sliver of income, before tax.”
Jagger was humiliated, ashamed. Here was the smartest rocker, the LSE student, being taken in a game of three-card monte.
This was the root cause of their entire tax exile situation, and as such stands as a great cautionary tale for the whole “be careful of what you sign,” thing that Kris Rusch is in the process of deconstructing on her blog now.