Chris Stamp, the early, star-making co-manager of the Who, died Saturday, Nov. 24, of cancer in New York City. He was 70.
With partner Kit Lambert, Stamp — the younger brother of actor Terence Stamp — guided the Who at the height of their ’60s and ’70s artistic and commercial success. Stamp and Lambert also founded Track Records, whose acts included not only the Who but the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Thunderclap Newman and Golden Earring.
The Oxford-educated Lambert and the working-class Stamp were an unusual, almost mismatched pair of businessmen. But they vaulted the Who to international fame. “Most importantly, the two of them knew how to get things done,” the Who’s singer-songwriter-guitarist Pete Townshend noted in his recent memoir, “Who Am I.”
Stamp, who served as executive producer of Ken Russell’s 1975 film adaptation of the Who’s “Tommy,” parted ways with the band he nurtured amid considerable business acrimony in the early ’70s. But the band reconciled with Stamp in later years; lead singer Roger Daltrey offered an onstage tribute to the late manager during a Who tour date in Detroit on Nov. 24.
He was born in London into a family of six; his father piloted tugboats on the Thames. He had an early interest in filmmaking and met Lambert, the son of Covent Garden Ballet musical director Constant Lambert, while the two were working as assistant directors at London’s Shepperton Studios.
Hoping to make a short film about London’s burgeoning rock scene, the pair were drawn to the High Numbers, a hyper-kinetic quartet they caught in performance at London’s Railway Hotel in July 1964. They acquired the band’s management rights from Peter Meaden soon thereafter and urged them to take up their original moniker, the Who.
After the Who attained success with a pair of albums on England’s Decca Records, Stamp and Lambert extricated the group from their label contract and founded Track.
Besides releasing such classic Who albums as “The Who Sell Out,” “Tommy,” “Who’s Next” and “Quadrophenia,” Track issued singer-guitarist Hendrix’s groundbreaking early singles and albums, Arthur Brown’s pyrotechnic “Fire,” Andy “Thunderclap” Newman’s classic Townshend-produced single “Something in the Air” and Dutch band Golden Earring’s FM hit “Radar Love.”
Relations between the Who and Lambert, who had acquired a heroin habit, and Stamp eroded in the early ’70s, and in 1974, Bill Curbishley, a childhood friend of Stamp, assumed management of the band. Track Records folded in 1978, and Lambert died in 1981 with his affairs in receivership.
Stamp moved to New York in 1976 and became a psychotherapist. After seeking treatment for serious drug and alcohol problems in 1987, he became active in counseling, psychodramatic therapy and healing, practicing in both the U.S. and England.
His survivors include his wife Calixte, two daughters, three brothers and a sister.