Andrew Loog Oldham

Andrew Loog Oldham (born January 29 1944 in Paddington, West London) is an English rock and roll producer, impresario and author. He was manager of The Rolling Stones in the 1960s, taking a flamboyant style inspired by Phil Spector.

Loog Oldham's father Andrew Loog was United States Army Air Force Lieutenant of Dutch descent who served with the Eighth Air Force, but he was killed in June 1943 when his B-17 bomber was shot down over the English Channel. His Australian mother was a nurse and Comptometer operator. He attended Aylesbury School for Boys, Cokethorpe School in Oxfordshire, a state junior school in Swiss Cottage, St Marylebone Grammar School, a crammer in Hampstead and Wellingborough School in Northamptonshire.

A self-proclaimed hustler who spent teenage summers swindling tourists in French towns, Oldham's interest in the pop culture of the 1960s and the Soho coffeehouse scene led to working for Carnaby Street mod designer John Stephen and later as an assistant in Mary Quant's shop.

He became a press agent for British and American rock'n'roll singers, as well as producer Joe Meek (then pushing Magic Star, the vocal of Telstar) and did some London PR work for Brian Epstein, who was still trying to push the Beatles.

He was tipped off by a journalist friend to check a young R&B band called The Rolling Stones and with business partner Eric Easton took over their management from promoter Giorgio Gomelsky. The band signed with Decca, whose interest was sparked when George Harrison recommended the Stones to A+R head Dick Rowe.

Oldham moves that helped propel the group included:

  • Ownership of master tapes, which Oldham would then lease to Decca (a trick picked up from Spector);
  • Running into John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who gave him "I Wanna Be Your Man" which became a Stones hit;
  • Forcing the Stones to write their own material;
  • And setting up the Stones' image as bad-boy counterparts who rarely wore uniforms and cursed, smoked and even urinated in public to the Beatles. Welcome headlines like "Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?" and Oldham's rants on the back of Stones albums, encouraging fans to mug blind beggars for funds, cemented the image.

Oldham discovered Marianne Faithfull at a party, giving her Jagger and Richards' "As Tears Go By" to record.

He developed studio talents not only with the Stones but also with his Andrew Oldham Orchestra, in which Stones, and London session players (including Steve Marriott on harmonica), would record pop covers or instrumentals in the Stones and Spector catalogue. These were rediscovered in the 1990s when the Britpop indie band The Verve used a string loop based on the orchestral arrangement of "The Last Time" as backing for "Bitter Sweet Symphony"; in the ensuing court battle, songwriting royalties for the Verve track were awarded to Jagger and Richards.

As his acts' success increased, Oldham thrived on a reputation as a garrulous, androgynous gangster who wore makeup and shades but relied on his bodyguard "Reg" to threaten rivals. Problems with drugs led to sale of the Stones to Allen Klein in 1966.

Oldham's role also led to tensions with Mick Jagger. Jagger had been happy to have Oldham in the earlier part of their relationship. Oldham pushed for Jagger to be leader of the band — over Brian Jones — and this helped Jagger gain confidence. However, once Jagger became successful he became resentful of Oldham's role as mentor. Oldham's drug use and erratic personality compounded the difficulties. After Oldham departed in late 1967, relationships between Oldham and the Stones were strained for several years. In subsequent years, Oldham's relationships were repaired with all the Stones, except Jagger.

In 1965 Oldham set up Immediate Records, one of the first independent labels in the UK, releasing work by PP Arnold, Chris Farlowe and the Small Faces (whom he purchased from Don Arden for £25,000 in 1967. Oldham also helped Derek Taylor publicise the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album by taking ads praising the album. Oldham enlisted songwriter Billy Nicholls to record a British response, the album Would You Believe?. After the Small Faces split in 1969, he put together Humble Pie, featuring Steve Marriott formerly of the Small Faces and Peter Frampton (ex-The Herd).

In the 1970s, he worked in New York City, Connecticut, Texas and Colombia, his primary residence since the mid-80s, when he married Esther Farfan, a Colombian model. There he became a mentor for local bands.

Oldham wrote a biography of ABBA in the 1970s and two autobiographies, Stoned (1998) and 2Stoned (2001), in which he and other music figures recount his days as an impresario as well as struggling with addiction and depression. Oldham is an advocate of Narconon and its parent organisation, the Church of Scientology, which he says helped him to kick his drug habit. In 2005, he spoke at the opening of Narconon UK's drug rehabilitation centre in St Leonards-on-Sea, near Hastings.

In 2005 Oldham was recruited by Steven Van Zandt to host a radio show on Van Zandt's Underground Garage radio channel heard in America on Sirius Satellite Radio. Oldham is heard daily with a two-hour show on weekdays and a four-hour weekend show.

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