Henry Stone on How Allen Grubman Became His Lawyer: “I Threatened To Kick His Ass”
“Sitting one day in my office at Tone Distributors, I received a phone call from Walter Hoffa’s office. Walter was a top New York lawyer at that time who represented the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and other major acts from Europe. Upon answering my phone call, a young attorney from Hoffa’s office got on the phone and introduced himself to me as Mr Allen Grubman. He said he was representing a group called The Beginning of The End who at the time had a top 5 record (“Funky Nassau”). It was on the Alston label, which I owned and the record was distributed by Atlantic. Mr Grubman stated that the contract that I had with the group should be broken. At that time I asked Mr Grubman if he knew who he was talking to. And then I told him that the contract that i had was with Atlantic and a very strong contract, and being very angry at this conversation I threatened to get on the next plane and kick his ass.
The phone hung up very quickly and about 10 minutes later I received a phone call from Walter Hoffa, who before becoming a lawyer was a promo man for MGM Records. So I had some form of relationship with Walter and he said “What did you do to one of my new attorneys?” And I told him I didn’t like his attitude, he had a snotty New York attitude and didn’t know what he was talking about. By the way the contract was never broken. It was a firm and good contract.
About 4 weeks later I called Walter due to circumstances and major changes in the record industry. The changes being Atlantic, Warner Bros, and Elektra were gonna form their own distribution network. Consequently I would lose distribution of my own Alston label, so I decided to do my own manufacturing and distribution.
I wanted Walter and his firm to represent me. He said he would do so and I planned to meet him in New York. I arrived in New York at Laguardia airport and a young smiling Jewish gentleman by the name of Allen Grubman was there to pick me up. Walter had sent him to pick me up. Of course upon meeting him I took to his New York Allen Grubman ways. He drove me to Walter’s office. On the way to Walter’s office he told me he had just gotten out of law school and went knocking on doors on 57th street and was hired by Walter Hoffa’s firm. Not knowing a lot about the music business at the time, and just getting into law from being a school teacher, Allen was eager to get as much knowledge as he could about the music industry. After our initial incident we seemed to have a strong rapport with one another and this was the beginning of a very long business and personal relationship. Walter Hoffa asked me if i would mind if he assigned Allen as my lawyer and I thought that was a great idea, because Walter was a very busy attorney. This way I had a young attorney with his full attention on my work.
As in my past performances of hit records, I called Allen at Walter’s office and told him I had a hit record breaking big in South Florida and I’d meet him in New York to try and make a foreign deal because I was gonna distribute this record myself. The record was “Why Cant We Live Together” by Timmy Thomas. I arrived in New York a few days later and with Allen we started negotiating with Polygram Records and we made a deal with Polygram the following day. At the time while I was in New York I had some deals with Morris Levy where Morris owed me some money for some of my publishing. I took Allen by the arm and said “Come with me to Roulette Records, I have to pick up some money.” I think that was Allen’s first experience of meeting Morris Levy. After talking to Morris and negotiating with Morris he agreed to pay me $10,000 in cash for what was owed at the time. Upon walking out of the office Allen said, “What a guy. What a deal.” I handed Allen $1,000 and said, “Here’s your 10% lawyers fee.” The money was for a weird deal with “Mashed Potatoes,” some kind of a ripoff with the “Peppermint Twist” yknow.”
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