Chris Stamp, 70; manager helped discover the Who

Chris Stamp and Roger Daltrey at the Kennedy Center Awards in 2008.
Calixte Stamp
Chris Stamp and Roger Daltrey at the Kennedy Center Awards in 2008.

NEW YORK — Chris Stamp, who as a Cockney kid from East London aspired to make a documentary film about the rise of British rock in the 1960s and ended up helping to discover and manage a ­raucous working-class quartet called the Who, died Nov. 24 in Manhattan. He was 70.

The cause was complications of colorectal cancer, said his wife, Calixte.

He was the brother of actor Terrence Stamp.


‘‘I was knocked out,’’ Mr. Stamp recalled in 1966 of the night he saw the Who perform, at the Railway Hotel in Harrow, now part of greater London, in July 1964. ‘‘But the excitement I felt wasn’t coming from the group. I couldn’t get near enough. It was coming from the people blocking my way.’’

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The band was wild, loud, and stylish. Pete Townshend, its guitarist and songwriter, was among the first to incorporate distorted feedback from amplifiers in performance; Keith Moon, the drummer, slaughtered his kit with his sticks. Both men enjoyed intentionally breaking their instruments.

When they met the Who, Mr. Stamp and a colleague, Kit Lambert, had been working as assistant directors of films and were hoping to find an obscure but promising band to document. Neither had experience in the music industry, but once they saw the Who’s potential, they maneuvered to manage the band and steered it toward superstardom.

They gave the band its name or gave it back; a previous manager had changed it from the Who to the High Numbers. They encouraged the musicians’ destructiveness, sometimes tossing smoke bombs onstage. And they helped choose some of the songs they recorded; it was Mr. Stamp who insisted they cut ‘‘My Generation.’’

The good times lasted for more than a decade, as the Who shot across the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. Mr. Stamp and Lambert formed a label, Track Records, and nurtured other artists including the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In 1967 Track released the single, ‘‘Purple Haze,’’ and subsequent breakout album ‘‘Are You Experienced’’ later that year.


With the Who, Mr. Stamp was involved in the albums ‘‘The Who Sell Out’’ and ‘‘Magic Bus’’ as well as the concept albums ‘‘Tommy’’ and ‘‘Quadrophenia,’’ among other major releases. (He was also ­involved in the soundtrack for the ‘‘Tommy’’ movie.) He and Lambert ultimately did make a short film about the band’s formative phase, and some of the footage was included in ‘‘The Kids Are Alright,’’ the 1979 documentary about the Who.

As sometimes happens, the ride eventually became less pleasant. Drugs and alcohol — the managers also lived like rock stars — stirred division, as did money. By the late 1970s, the Who had fired Mr. Stamp and Lambert, though many years later the people involved largely patched things up.

Roger Daltrey, the Who’s lead singer, said during a performance in Detroit on Nov. 24 that without Mr. Stamp, ‘‘we wouldn’t be the band we were.’’

Christopher Thomas Stamp was born in London to the former Esther Perrott and Thomas Stamp, a tugboat captain on the Thames. In addition to his wife and brother, Mr. Stamp leaves two daughters from a previous marriage;two other brothers; a sister ; and three grandchildren.

Lambert lived hard until he died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1981, but Mr. Stamp made a dramatic change in his life. He sought treatment for alcohol abuse in the late 1980s and became an addiction therapist.