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 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, his wife, Calixte, said.
“I was knocked out," Stamp recalled in 1966 of the night he first 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."
The band was wild, loud and stylish. Pete Townshend, its guitarist and songwriter, was among the first to incorporate the distorted feedback from amplifiers in performance; Keith Moon, its drummer, slaughtered his kit with his sticks. Both men enjoyed breaking their instruments intentionally.
When they met The Who, Stamp and a colleague, Kit Lambert, had been working at Shepperton Studios as assistant directors of films and were hoping to find an obscure but promising band to document as it made its way in the music world. 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 encouraged the musicians’ destructiveness, sometimes tossing smoke bombs onstage. And they helped choose some of the songs they should record; it was Stamp who insisted they record “My Generation."
The good times lasted for more than a decade, as The Who shot across the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, Stamp and Lambert formed a label, Track Records, and nurtured other artists, including the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In 1967 Track released the group’s second single, “Purple Haze," and its subsequent breakout album, “Are You Experienced?" later that year.
With The Who, 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 and Lambert ultimately did make a short film about the band’s formative phase, and some of the footage is included in “The Kids Are Alright," the 1979 documentary about The Who.
As sometimes happens in the music business, 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 Stamp and Lambert, though many years later the people involved largely patched things up.