Andrew Loog Oldham was born in 1944 in Paddington, West London. His father was of Dutch descent and was killed during the War. His mother was an Australian nurse and comptometer operator. Andrew was a pretentious teenager and self-proclaimed hustler who spent his summers swindling tourists in French towns. He started working as an assistant in Carnaby Street, first for designer John Stephen, then Mary Quant and Alexander Plunkett Greene at their newly opened Bazaar. He became a PR stringer and worked briefly with Joe Meek and Bob Dylan (on his first visit to the UK in 1962/63). Later the same year he joined Brian Epstein promoting The Beatles. Andrew recognised the importance of youth culture and more importantly how he could manipulate it. A journalist and friend, Peter Jones (Record Mirror), recommended a young R&B band called The Rolling Stones. Oldham immediately saw the commercial potential to create an ‘anti-Beatles,’ and asked the group if he could become their manager. Only 19, he was bursting with ideas and soon convinced Mick and co., to accept him as their agent. Andrew had a winning combination of boundless self-confidence and hopeless naiveté which had refreshing appeal. He realized his own limitations however and went into partnership with Eric Easton. The Stones were signed to Decca Records and Andrew produced the group’s early studio work until late 1967.
Andrew felt Ian "Stu" Stewart’s image did not fit with the rest of the band and insisted he was sidelined. Stu agreed to become their road manager and play session piano. As their manager he was particularly successful in developing the ‘bad boy’ image that positioned the band in opposition to The Beatles. The group grew their hair, wore casual Pop Art clothing, and appeared unruly and of unkempt appearance. Their off stage antics filled the tabloids and one of Andrew’s earliest successes was when he rhetorically posed the question, “Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?” The media lapped it up. The image created by Loog Oldham suited the Stones attitude, looks and music perfectly.
Always keen to maximize exposure he invited Lennon and McCartney to the studios to meet the Stones. Both Mick and Keith were Beatle fans and got on well. McCartney and Lennon agreed the Stones should record “I wanna be your man” for their second single and it was produced by Eric Easton. Andrew Loog Oldham savvy was acute and he followed Phil Spector’s lead by retaining ownership of the original master tapes. This was then leased to the record company which allowed greater artistic freedom and financial rewards.
As with most groups of the time, the Stones’ repertoire included many covers of US songs, so Andrew encouraged Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to start writing their own material. At first (between 1963 and 1965) the group opted a collective pseudonym, Nanker Phelge (aka Nanker/Phelge) to share writing royalties. Apparently Phelge was a flatmate, and Nanker was a ‘funny face’ Brian would pull. The first original Jagger/Richards song to make a UK number one hit was ‘The Last Time’ in 1965. In the main the pair settled to Mick Jagger as lyricist and Keith Richards, the music. Much later the songwriting pair contributed both lyrics and music.
In 1966 Andrew sold his interest in The Rolling Stones to Allan Klein but continued in the role as the band's de facto manager. Relations deteriorated, and The Stones officially severed business connection in 1967 after the making of Between the Buttons.
After meeting a teenage Marianne Faithfull at a party he later recorded her singing Jagger and Richards' "As Tears Go By." ( co-written by Andrew Loog Olham). The single became a hit in both the UK and US in 1964.
A year later he and Tony Calder set up Immediate Records which was one of the first independent labels in the UK. The label concentrated on the London based R&B artists and signed Rod Stewart, P.P. Arnold, songwriter Paul Korda, Billy Nicholls, John Mayall, Savoy Brown, Small Faces, The Nice, Fleetwood Mac, The Groundhogs, Chris Farlowe, Duncan Browne and Humble Pie. Despite an amazing amount of chart success, the label closed in 1970 and many of the artists were never paid for their work.
Throughout his successful years Oldham thrived on his reputation as a garrulous, androgynous gangster and employed a bodyguard to threaten rivals. He was infrequently seen without makeup and dark glasses and took every opportunity to indulge himself as reward for his success. He was a regular drug user until he resettled in North America.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Oldham produced Donovan and other artists.
In the mid-1980s, he made Colombia his primary residence after marrying Esther Farfan, a Colombian model. There he became a mentor for local bands. Andrew Loog Oldham has continued to work in the music business in various capacities and is now living in Bogotá, Colombia.
Worth a listen
The Rolling Stones
Come on (1963)
I wanna be your man (1963)
Not Fade Away (1963)
It’s all over now (1964)
Little Red Rooster (1964)
Route 66 (1965)
Under the boardwalk (1965)
The Last time (1965)
(I can’t get no) satisfaction (1965)
19th nervous breakdown (1966)
Have you seen your mother baby standing in the shadow (1966)
Let’s spend the night together (1967)
As tears go by (1964)
John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers
I'm Your Witchdoctor (1965)
Hang On Sloopy (1965)
Call Again (1965)
Baby don’t do it (1966)
Out of time (1966)
Yesterday’s Papers (1967 )
Handbags and Gladrags (1967)
Paint It Black (1967)
The first cut is the deepest (1967)
Angel of the Morning (1968)
The Small Faces
Here comes the nice (1967)
Itchycoo Park (1967)
Lazy Sunday (1968)
The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack (1967)
Natural born bugie (1969)
If Paradise Was Half as Nice (1969)
Hello Suzie (1969)
Man of the World (1969)