LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Infamous record label owner Allen Klein , who played a key role in the demise of the Beatles and also nabbed control of some of the Rolling Stones best-known songs, died in New York on Saturday after a battle with Alzheimers disease, a spokesman said. He was 77. During a career spanning more than 50 years, the New Jersey-born accountant enjoyed a reputation as a savvy gangster-like figure. His ruthless business practices were reviled by many, but he also earned grudging respect for bullying labels into giving rich deals to his clients. Dont talk to me about ethics, he told Playboy magazine in 1971. Every man makes his own. Its like a war. You choose your side early and from then on, youre being shot at. The man you beat is likely to call you unethical. So what? It did not hurt his reputation when he was sentenced to two months in prison in 1979 for tax evasion. He once said John Lennon hired him to protect his interest in the Beatles because he and wife Yoko Ono wanted a real shark someone to keep the other sharks away. His company, ABKCO Music & Records, is one of the biggest independent labels in an industry controlled by multinational corporations. The spokesman said it would remain family-controlled. Two of Kleins three adult children work at the company, including son Jody who runs ABKCO. (The acronym stands for Allen and Betty Klein Co., Betty being his wife.) Its assets include recordings by the Rolling Stones , the Animals, Hermans Hermits, Bobby Womack, the Kinks, Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell and many others. The publishing arm boasts more than 2,000 copyrights including compositions by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones , Cooke, Womack, Ray Davies of the Kinks and Pete Townshend of the Who.