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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

Bill Frisbie says: December 5, 2013 at 12:54 am

I met Chris Stamp in Sag Harbor, NY, when I lived there some years ago. I know he was doing therapeutic/spiritual work, which I admired; but what endeared me to him was his story-telling. It was clear that he knew EVERYBODY in music in London in those days, and his delivery was hilarious.

He told me this story about John Lennon: he had been with the Beatles during the filming of the ill-fated “Magical Mystery Tour” movie. One of Lennon’s ideas was to travel in search of odd folk, freaks and misfits, and film them for the movie. One of these was a man afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome, which caused him to rapidly turn his head and go “Hnaww!” every few seconds.

Chris: “So years later, I walk into this bar [I forget which one] in New York, and I see Lennon sitting there, nursing his drink. And I looked at Lennon, and Lennon looked at me, and all he said was, ‘Hnaww!'”

Just finishing your book “Who I am”. Quite a ride. I was at Woodstock and saw you there, also at New Paltz College in New York in 1970, and yet again at Madison Square Garden soon after John Entwhistle’s death. Does this make me a groupie? BTW, Roger’s voice is still the incredible instrument it was when I was younger, and Zak Starkey is my current nominee for Best Drummer On The Planet. Your singing got much better from the old days, and your guitar work was stunning. Thanks for the ride.

linda says: May 18, 2013 at 6:31 pm

In the last year during some low times I load your set from the concert for New York City, then watch and listen. I always find it very uplifting and inspirational. The band’s musical genius, showmanship and creativity have no equals. The Who have created a true legacy of great music. Thank you.

Jim Rice says: February 11, 2013 at 12:53 am

Hi Pete- although you’ve always been one of my favorite guitarists and lyricists, I don’t envy what a difficult road it has been for you in many regards.

Although the rewards (fame, glory, money, etc.) seem awfully tempting to those of us on the outside, I understand the heavy toll of the rock lifestyle. I admire the way you’ve managed to pursue your creative endeavors despite all of the obstacles, even the self-imposed ones.

What I admire about you after reading Who I Am, is that you accept your own failures and shortcomings, but you don’t let that hamstring you from trying to be a better person. All of us can be inspired by that determination.

On a closing note, I saw you in Phoenix on Feb. 6th, and thought you, Roger, and the band were in fine form. Well done! Hope you stay in good health and accept each day as a gift.


Richard Freeman says: January 16, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Hello Pete: First of all, my condolences on the passing of Chris, Mike and Frank.
I am going to see The Who on Feb. 1 in Oakland, forty-five friggin years since last seeing the band at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
(That “Long Live Rock” business sure has some mojo.)
I want to thank you for bringing Arthur Brown to our attention back then – what a phenomenal first record! Of mojo: am pleased to see that he is still at it. Marvelous!
My best to you and yours.

Still rocking in my sixth decade, too.

Richard (from Dalston, but decades in California)

Ron Harris says: January 30, 2013 at 3:43 am


I was at that same concert 45 or so years ago at the Shrine. Arthur Brown, with the flaming hair, was an amazing pairing to The Who. Saw the concert last night – 1-28- and it brought back those decades of Who memories. Did you see the premier of Tommy at the Hollywood Paladium in ’69? That,too, was a night to remember forever.

Richard Freeman says: February 2, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Ron – Did not see the “Tommy” premiere.
The show last night was excellent. Bravo to Pete and Roger for keeping the flame, and with such professionalism. The graphic accompaniment was truly world class, as was the syncing of the Entwistle and Moon footage.


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