A Review: A Prince Among Stones by Rupert Loewenstein

March 14, 2013

A Review: A Prince Among Stones by Rupert Loewenstein
Review by R.E. Prindle

Loewenstein, Prince Rupert: A Prince Among Stones: That Business With The Rolling Stones And Other Adventures, 2013, Bloomsbury

Some will rob you with a six gun,
Others use a fountain pen.
-Pretty Boy Floyd, The Outlaw

Now comes the very welcome autobiography of the Rolling Stones eminence gris, financial expert, Rupert Loewenstein, a moments surcease from the excesses of Spanish Tony Sanchez, Marianne Faithfull and Keith. A respite from biographers Christopher Anderson, Philip Norman, A.E. Hotchner and the other sexually obsessed writers. A pause in the hothouse atmosphere of Mick’s groovy sexual liaisons, temporary and otherwise. Rupert keeps his dick in his pants.

When in 1968 the Stones realized that the inexperience of their youthful years was cracking down to destroy their dreams, their hopes had been concealed and buried in truckloads of contracts and documents they couldn’t read and would never understand. Enter Rupert the investment banker from The Square Mile, well mannered and ‘with it’ in ways Rockers could ever understand much less emulate. But Mick tried.

Entangled by the youthful inexperience of their first manager seconded by his partner Eric Easton and outright robbed by fountain pen wielding Allen B. Klein, Mick Jagger turned to Rupert Loewenstein as a thirsting man in the Sahara desert. As despised rock and rollers Jagger was turned down by the lawyers and accountants he pleaded with to salvage the Stones situation.

Christopher Gibbs, friend of Bob Fraser, approached Rupert as an old Etonian and asked his help. Rupert considered and accepted.

After reading internet reviews of Rupert’s book the general consensus seems to be a general rejection. The fact that Rupert took the first sixty pages to explain his origins and give some background offended the majority of reviewers who expected him to begin with glowing accounts of Mick and Keith. As Rupert’s technique was to place himself in his environment, so markedly different from the rest of us, most reviewers interpreted his method as mere name dropping.

I enjoyed the pages and thought Rupert’s technique quite skillful. As his explication narrowed down to his first encounter with Mick as he stepped over his prone drugged out form at a party I became aware of who Rupert was and how he arrived at the crossroads of his life.

At that point he was an owner of the small merchant banking firm of Leopold Joseph & Sons, both Leopold and his sons having departed the firm. Here he had a comfortable, respectable life with, as future developments would show, an opportunity for substantial wealth. An enviable situation actually.

But Rupert, apparently, craved excitement, so for reasons that escape me he took on the task of rescuing the Stones. Did I say crazy? Closer to what I meant but had too much discretion to say. At the time Rupert accepted the mission the Stones were penniless all their money controlled by Klein; they had no means to pay Rupert anything including his expenses. As incredible as it may seem Rupert worked for not only nothing but at his own expense including many trips to New York and back for three long years until he could squeeze some money out of Allen Klein. I mean, what luck for the Stones, my jaw just dropped.

The Stones had thousands and thousands of documents and papers Rupert had to familiarize himself with and this is all boring, very intricate stuff. It took Rupert a couple years alone of study before he felt competent to confront the thug Klein; and then, eighteen years of legal squabbles ensued as Klein fought to hold his ill gotten gains.

In the meantime, as Rupert learned the complexities of the music business and touring he had to find ways to make the ongoing projects profitable. He succeeded in making the perennial money loser, touring, into a cash cow.

Rupert is always understated but his efforts for the Stones in a very corrupt business were astonishing. From being penniless Jagger now has several hundreds of millions of dollars.

While discussing these financial affairs Rupert is more than discreet. One has an idea of what he did for the Stones but nothing in the way of useful details. This was Rupert’s life that so far as I’m concerned he is certainly within his rights to discuss, even revealing, some more pertinent details in his dealings with Klein.

Mick, who can explain Mick, had the effrontery to chide Rupert for, in his eyes, revealing the Stones’ finances. Revealing the Stones’ finances! Who is Mick kidding? The Stones are an untraded public company. They have imposed themselves on their public, us, and what they do is our business. Our dollars have made them very wealthy men. We’re entitled to financial reports. Does Mick have any idea of what havoc he has caused to society and we members of the public, this member, by his reprehensible shenanigans?

Personally I think it astonishing that Rupert would have associated himself with a guy who would get up on forty foot inflatable dick in front of sixty thousand people a time and shout ‘Yahoo!’ What kind of guy would do that?

In many ways that was only the beginning of Stones’ offensiveness in the seventies. One has to understand the homosexual situation of the sixties and seventies in which Mick played a leading role. Hidden at the bottom of developments was the 1962 novel by Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange. The story involves a near societal mutation of thug violence. The film rights were immediately snapped up by a combine of David Bailey, Andrew Oldham and Andy Warhol.

The original plan was to star Mick as the protagonist Alex. The movie did not come together until 1971 but then under different owners although Warhol did make an earlier version. The book’s type of violence was part and parcel of Warhol’s Factory whose members apparently took the book’s protagonists, the Droods, as their model. That combined with their homosexuality.

Mick was close to both David Bailey, the fashion photographer who describes Mick and his mate, and Warhol. As the book was a sort of revolutionary text the movie was even more so. For those prone to violence the movie serves as a primer. Yobbos in action.

Andy Warhol was also working toward the homosexual revolution that succeeded in 1969 in the Christopher Street rebellion at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Between the book and the Stonewall the lid was off unconscious violence and homosexuality. Alex of Clockwork Orange was portrayed as an androgynous character not unlike Mick.

Thus the 1970s songs and tours took on a violent homosexual character leaning heavily toward psychotic sado-masochism. Always pushing the envelope Mick over did it with his 1976 release Black And Blue. Black And Blue was a very sick record. Of course it was only part of a very sick period fueled by the homosexual revolution. Appearing in 1976, it was after a series of albums by the sado-masochistic Negro band The Ohio Players. The OP had released a series of objectionable record covers that caused no adverse reaction as they were Negroes. Their LPs Pleasure, Pain and Angel had covers more excessive than Black And Blue. Women were dominatrices, hung from chains, the Pleasure cover shows a woman stabbing a man in the spine during intercourse. This all passed without comment but Mick apparently didn’t realize that Negroes have a ticket to ride but White Boys don’t.

Unlike The Ohio Players the Stones didn’t have the rocks to put their picture of female torture and overt sado-masochism on the outside of the cover concealing it instead within the gate fold. Perhaps Mick was realizing his Clockwork Orange fantasy identity.

To add insult to injury the Stones compelled their label to erect a gigantic Billboard of the centerfold across from the Hyatt House on Sunset Boulevard in LA. The outrage was instantaneous. The outrage was so intense that Mick and the Stones were compelled to back down. The billboard was taken down while the photo was removed from the inner cover replaced by a photo of the band.

One can only imagine the effect the incident had on Rupert and his fellow merchant bankers back in London. The repercussions at all levels were horrendous.

In fact Mick owes me for that one. At that time I was in the record business in Portland, Oregon, running a large six thousand square foot store. I had a huge presence on TV and radio through advertisements thus making me an ideal target for protests. Oddly devotees of porn like Lesbians decided to target my store. A committee in combat boots stormed into my store handing me an ultimatum to not only remove Black And Blue from my racks but a long list of record covers they thought demeaned women. Interestingly The Ohio Players several covers or any records by Negro groups for that matter were not on the list. No White person was going to criticize any Negro for anything. They had immunity. The Stones however where White, objectionable and fair game. As was I.

The Lesbos put their heads together to come up with a media event that they could exploit for maximum publicity. Andy always said that any publicity was good publicity but I beg to disagree with him. They conceived the notion that if they came into my store and slashed the covers of their two hundred objections that would make the paper, TV and radio. They were complicit with my employees. As the store was open till ten they chose a late hour to do their slashing. Well done, but beyond my notice until one of the Lesbos in my employ pointed the albums out to me several days later.

Of course, as I had no idea who did it, similar incidents were always happening, I pulled the damaged covers to be sent back to the manufacturers hoping that it wouldn’t happen again. There was no reason for me to complain to the police because as a record dealer I was outside the protection of the law, the police would have laughed at me. As the evil deed had received no response the Lesbos published their manifesto in their paper. Naturally enough I didn’t read lesbian publications so no response from me.

The gay crowd had their agents in the police department and the Daily Oregonian, the local rag. Unfortunately for the Lesbos as I didn’t advertise in the Oregonian it was forbidden to either mention myself or my store hence that venue was closed. Oddly enough the Lesbos used to police to try to stir me.

Now, I was in the record business. It was universally believed that every record store was dealing drugs. There were TV shows depicting it. Therefore it was believed that I was one of the biggest drug masterminds in the world. I was actually followed by police agents in London on vacation. As it happened I was there when they made a major marijuana bust so I was given attention as it was apparently thought I was there to supervise the operation. It was an interesting time. I hope I don’t have to tell you what a fantastically absurd suspicion this was. I mean, you know, it was believed that all you had to do was ask for a certain record and the clerk would slap a lid of grass on the counter for you. I mean, with a counter full of weed nothing would have been easier than a bust. But logic….

The cops had been irritants for some time so when I got a phone call saying that they wanted to help me, I say, What kind of setup is this? The sergeant or whatever begins insultingly saying that ordinarily the police didn’t care what my kind of people did to each other but this slashing of record covers was one toke over the line. Wow. It was exceptionable wasn’t it? What other things hadn’t they investigated that’s what I wanted to know but got no answer.

Quite honestly I’d dismissed the incident, didn’t remember it and thanks, but no thanks. The Lesbos were back to square one, no media event. Time passed as they revolved the situation in their drug addled minds.

Now, not only was the newspaper riddled with gays, as was my store by the way, but so was the no. 1 TV station in town on which I was a very heavy advertiser, both its radio and TV outlets. Homos and Lesbos ran the place. Time has now flown as Time will and we’re into 1977. More objectionable covers have appeared especially Ronnie Montrose’s first with the abstract painting that resembled perhaps a woman’s crotch but given the homosexual dominance of the industry by 1978 it could have been a man’s rear; the record was called Jump On It if I remember correctly. All the sexual double entendres used for decades, remember the tune Baby, Let Me Bang Your Box? Piano was meant, box being musical slang for piano as well as…(blush) you know. The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane, for instance who was only three years old. You just have a dirty mind, that’s all.

I was known for touting the artistic merits of the covers so getting together with their sisters at K… it was determined to do a short news feature in which I was to be induced to speak out and then they would go for the Montrose cover and get me for porno. I had no objection to their filming in my store but not having been born yesterday I wasn’t going to be drawn into the trap. I refused to speak on camera so that blew the second attempt for a media event. On to take three.

What else? The Lesbos would stage a demonstration outside the store, placards and all. However they once again made some gross miscalculations. They did get the top DJ in town also at K… and also a homosexual to announce that the demonstration would take place at noon at my store. I heard it on the radio on my way to work and was grossly offended. But, you know, too bad wasn’t it?

It was true that because of my massive radio and TV presence through advertising, and I mean massive, I was the ideal target. However many if not most people considered the demonstration as a publicity stunt which I failed to grasp at the time so didn’t turn it to my advantage and ignored it. As it would have been free advertising none of the radio and TV stations would cover the demonstration and the Oregonian certainly ignored it.

Frustrated that no media attended their media event the Lesbos decided to invade my store. A screaming horde of combat booted demons rushed in climbing on record racks, waving their signs, and with them came all the thieves and shop lifters within range of the excitement. Oddly enough many shoppers considering the ruckus a stunt went calmly about their shopping.

It took the helpful police an hour to get there and two hours to restore order. Obviously no arrests were made by the ‘helpful’ police. As Dylan sang: The cops don’t need you and, man, they expect the same. I have no idea how much money the Lesbos cost me, but they owe along with Mick. Once they realized there would be no media event their interest subsided. By that time half of 1977 was shot.

The next time Mick says that songs don’t incite a revolution smile knowingly.

Whatever was happening to me passed unnoticed as I was out on the edge of nowhere. Except for this account of the story the incident has been unrecorded. I hope the Lesbos feel rewarded. But for Rupert his world was changed dramatically on February 27th of that same year, 1977. Keith was busted for intent to distribute heroin in Toronto. The bust was as close to absolute disaster as the Stones ever came. It must also have sent a shiver down Rupert’s spine as he realized how fragile a business the Stones were.

Rupert passes over this stuff casually with a little light hearted banter but the seriousness of this ‘media event’ causes him to issue a nearly audible sigh of resignation. Rupert had spent months lining up bids from every major label for when the recording contract with Atlantic expired.

Mick gave Rupert a call to tell him the disastrous news. You can almost feel the heartbreak as Rupert resigns himself to call each and every label to ask if the bust affected their offers. It did. All signed off but…Atlantic. Ertegun stayed in but Rupert’s bargaining power went into the vein, so to speak. The Stones were only worth what Ertegun would offer. Millions down the tube. Rupert doesn’t tell us what percentage he was working on but we can assume that Keith’s bust cost him plenty.

You don’t read the story that way in Keith’s auto; he may not even still have figured it out.

That was a very serious consequence for Rupert to which I am sure Keith has given no thought ever to the possible collateral damages caused by his actions. In his drugged out haze Keith was not even aware that Rupert could no longer justify his involvement with a bunch of yobbos like the Stones. In the first place anyone associated with Rock was socially unacceptable. I as a record store owner was persona non grata in my social arena. If Rupert had held on to his social status to this point I’m sure he found that certain invitations were no longer forthcoming. Indeed, his fellows at Leopold Joseph made him choose between them and the Stones. Rupert was forced to sell out.

One feels a sort of sinking feeling in his writing as he acknowledges that Keith had sabotaged the chances of both him and the Stones. One can only hope he came out with a couple hundred million otherwise he was woefully under compensated. Rock was a world he could never have understood.

Rupert saw the Stones as a business venture without any regard of the Stones’ relationship to the expectations of their fans. Thus when he negotiated more than substantial sums for the use of Stones’ songs in advertising that was a very good business decision but a potentially disastrous situation with the fan base who saw such financial arrangements as a complete betrayal of their anti-commercialism. Rupert was frustrated that the Stones had a hard time seeing it his way.

Besides he didn’t know who the Stones were or, seemingly so. The Stones were always a minority appeal band. When Andrew Oldham cast them as the ultimate yobbo band he was limiting their appeal to a certain segment of society. In the contemporary world where modern communications allow mind sets to come into contact and maintain communications not only locally but globally mind sets were able to blast their presence into a million or millions through communications. Thus though a small percentage of the overall global population even a perversion such as sado-masochism could appear in millions, seemingly a large connected body. Effects such as this is what Warhol was doing and through associates such as Jagger and David Bailey acting globally.

While the Stones may have sold a couple two or three million globally of their records, while substantial economically, it was not that significant culturally. Beyond the yobbo mentality the Stones had little appeal. The Black And Blue album did not expand their audience but constricted it.

Of course Mick moved the band beyond mere rock and roll by making the Stones the Ringling Bros., Barnum and Bailey circus of rock. The show was the thing. Rupert himself usually refers to Mick as a great showman. Faint praise indeed. But, once again even though the shows generated hundreds of millions it was to an already sympathetic or curious audience. Preaching to the converted so to speak.

I think that Rupert was originally blinded by the light of the Stones publicity not realizing that he wasn’t representing a universal phenomenon but a mere yobbo fragment of the population. The money was there however. I hope he valued his services accordingly.

The last half of the book meanders with very little useful information save that Rupert negotiated with unnamed buyers to sell the Stones lock, stock and barrel much as Halston sold his name, soul and product to a major corporation.

What Rupert’s motivation was except for a huge bundle of cash isn’t clear. Perhaps in some devious way he was seeking to avenge Keith’s betrayal and cause the Stone’s the pain they caused him. In any event the idea was too novel for Keith and Mick or they were two wary so the deal didn’t go down.

Perhaps there was big money in it for Rupert so that when he lost the opportunity he lost interest in the Stones. It was shortly after the deal folded that he retired severing his relationship with the group whose fortunes he had guided quite successfully for forty years.

Rupert never satisfactorily explained why he decided to abandon his respectable merchant banking career to take up a gypsy existence with the Stones. You may be sure that if I had the choice between owning a record store or being a merchant banker I would definitely have gone into banking. Anything really. You can always buy records.

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