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November 28, 2012

Three Tributes



Chris Stamp wasn’t just a good looking boy. He was tough, kind, creative and fun to be around. I can’t think of anyone with whom it was better to brainstorm. For me, our best idea will always be THE WHO SELL OUT. We got so excited when we figured we could sell advertising space between tracks on our records. Why leave that income to radio stations and pop magazines? We weren’t prepared for how irritated those guys would be with the idea. Chris was also very spiritually open, and later in his life focussed on the questions of the purpose of the soul. That said, he was never pious or pompous, never preachy. In his last days, despite terrible pain, we who were lucky enough to spend time with him, felt the presence of angels (or something like that) around him. There was a different kind of light in the room when he was fighting back at his cancer.


He had a wonderful life in his early and later years. The middle years, very much like my own, were tough partly because of his massive success. Track Records – which Chris ran for many years – had The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Marc Bolan and a dozen other big hit single successes. The Who’s success in the USA brought us all great notoriety, and Chris was as hard living as the rest of us. But he found recovery many, many years before it came into vogue to do so in the music business, and as a result became like a kind of recovery guru in the New York area, loved and respected by hundreds of people he met in his work as a counsellor.


Roger became especially close to Chris in recent years, all past arguments and complaints forgotten. Love prevailed between them. I never lost touch with Chris because together we continued to be partners in Fabulous Music who published all the early Who music in the UK and Europe.


I will miss him, but remember him with real gratitude and pleasure – always.





Mike Shaw worked with The Who for just a few years, from 1964 to 1967, when he had a car crash that rendered him paraplegic, wheelchair bound with limited use of his upper body.


In his time with us before the accident, he ran everywhere in Soho where Track offices were based, like a jinn. A definitive Mod, he was fastidious about his clothing, and good to look at. He had the most peculiar sense of humour, clipped and self-deprecating. Our early Goldhawk Mod fans remembered him with great affection. He went on to work at Track Records for many years, supervising several major Who repackages, and much more.


A childhood friend of our present manager Bill Curbishly, and our first manager Chris Stamp, he grew up in the East End, but seemed a little posh somehow. He was certainly discriminating. He acted as the first Production Manager in the rock business, dealing with band movements, hotels, equipment transport, dealing with the tough promoters of the day, and operating the first serious lighting rig ever used by a small band in the early ’60s. The Beatles never even had their own P.A. system let alone lights – though they did have a couple of great roadies of course in Neil (Aspinal) and Mal (Evans).


Eventually, in the ’80s, he found work too tricky and needed daily nursing, and moved to live in St Austell in Cornwall in a modest house, but one that had the most inspiring  view of the sea between the Fowey River over to Megavissy. That kept his soul alive, and although often lonely, he never lost heart. We all tried to see him as often as we could.


He and Chris Stamp passed away within weeks of each other. They were boyhood buddies.





Frank Barsalona was The Who’s agent in the USA from the beginning almost until the end. He arranged our first appearance in New York at the Murray the K Show in 1967, Woodstock in 1969, and every major tour from then until in the ’90s the big companies like Michael Cohl, Live Nation, Concerts West and AEG started to provide entire tour programmes for artists like The Who.


He was loved by all who knew him, a particular favourite with us and the Bruce Springsteen gang. He married his English wife June who we knew as an editor at the British fan magazine Fabulous back in 1964. She actually did our first such interview. Their daughter Nicole arrived much later, a cherished addition to one of the great families of pop and rock.


Frank was a great and discerning art collector, favouring modern work, and his first apartment in New York was designed around a stunning De Kooning that must be worth many millions today. His passing was not unexpected. He’d slowed down lately, and we all knew that Frank was not a man who would be comfortable living slow……..


Damn! First Mike Shaw, then Chris Stamp, then Frank. They all passed within a week of each other.  It’s been a strange time. I can’t feel sadness though. These three guys were the best, and helped build an industry that still prevails to this day – nearly fifty years on from when they started.


Frank was a gem. Just thinking about him always makes me smile.


Pete Townshend

November 28th, 2012










27 Responses to Three Tributes

Scott says: December 22, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Love reading your blog Pete! And you book is fantastic as well. I true treat to read and your talent is amazing. Can you help me with any digital audio or computer questions I might have?

Tommy1 says: December 19, 2012 at 1:03 am

Your tributes to the non-musicians in the Who family is very moving, particularly for Chris Stamp. After a rocky road the Who experienced with he and Kit Lambert, it’s touching to learn that you and Roger were able to mend things with Chris later in life.

After reading your memoirs, I continue to be touched by how you have become at peace with yourself and others in your life, as you reflect on it.

pauline norman says: December 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Just finished your bio, took me on a journey back in time to realise how lucky I was to be born in ‘your generation’ – I am 68 and you and The Who have given me so much pleasure over the years. The loss of good friends is happening to us all, it is life’s hard bits but just knowing them makes it all worth while and age just makes it richer. Thank you lovely creative man for sharing your life with all of us, however hard it must have been at times, it was all appreciated. I still remember the sweet smile you gave me one afternoon, walking up Richmond Hill when I said ‘hello’ to you, respecting your privacy I resisted all the temptations to give you a hug and perhaps a kiss and thank you in person. Keep at it Pete you are true star.

cw says: December 7, 2012 at 10:36 am

Frank and Chris both lived in my area on the East End of Long Island. By all accounts, both were wonderful people. I was just at my local music shop and the owner told me about the Chris Stamp memorial in Sag Harbor, NY. Chris was a regular at his shop. He tried to tell me that I must have seen/met him over the years. I couldn’t remember, but it was nice to hear that he was helping so many people with their addictions. R.I.P.

Julian says: December 7, 2012 at 6:45 am

Jasus Bru!

I just finished your bio, checked into this website to post some comments, and find this post showing that one of the threads of the book: your mates passing on, is continuing full on.

A bit of a shock to read that these full-blooded characters who I got to know a bit through your book have now moved on.


Some comments on the book ( apologies if this is the wrong spot to post this…I checked the bio thread on your site…too much ridiculous pollution/griefing there about Mick Jagger in pajamas ):

- having read more about the kids who went on to be The Who, little bits about the musical development, really caused my ears to be reborn to your musical acheivements. Live at Hull…instead of just hearing great music and super-tight musicians, apparently born that way or dropped from a different planet, I hear something that was evolved-to, which is more stunning. And the pure virtuosity of all four of you…wow. I do believe that you were playing in the moment in those days, channeling the real deal.

- have you checked out the little article in a recent BBC Classical music magazine, titled something like “15 worst behaved composers of all time?”

- Have you checked out the spiritual guide Eckhart Tolle? His audiobooks work for me, on long journeys. No evangelicism intended here, its just that throughout your biography, its glaringly obvious, to the point of multiple klieg lamps, that it could be helpful. Nothing really new in his teachings, it’s more that it’s well said and clears up some minor issues, catch 22′s for a soul in these times. In fact, there are little statements throughout your book, that show that part of you knows exactly what is what.

Best Wishes and thanks for sharing in your book! Again, condolences for the loss of your friends…and condolences to their loved ones. May we all encounter such rich and helpful souls in our journey!


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