We all know Elvis Presley would’ve been huge even without tyrannical manager Colonel Tom Parker. We all know that The Monkees weren’t a real band, but became one after being created for a TV show.
I’m a big fan of The Who, and I had no clue about how important Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp were as their managers. I had seen their names on the liner notes of my albums, but I’m convinced now they would’ve never made it without them. It was at the urging of Oxford grad Lambert that Townshend start writing songs. Lambert really pointed him in the proper direction (it helps that his dad was a big name orchestra director).
Stamp, we find out, is the brother of actor Terence Stamp; a former athlete who found he and Lambert were totally different personalities, but had the same taste in movies. They wanted to find an unknown band to make a film about, and after months of searching, they found the High Numbers (name was changed to The Who). Everybody figured this would last a few years, the movie would be completed, and that would be that. As Townshend himself says, “I didn’t expect to still be in a band when I was 61.”
It was a treat to see footage from the band’s early years, and it does make you realize that they probably weren’t going to go anywhere without these two managers intervening.
We find out some interesting things about everyone involved. Lambert is a closeted homosexual. Stamp didn’t mind borrowing money from his brother, or anybody else. Roger Daltrey, one of the best frontmen in rock history, felt out of place. You see, Keith Moon was the amazing, maniacal drummer; John Entwhistle was a talented bassist, and Townshend was the main songwriter.
Everyone that knew Lambert and Stamp wondered why they’d want such an ugly looking band. And to get that ugly lot – they actually paid them a salary! That meant they needed to work hard to keep that money coming in (and it usually didn’t come from gigs).
There were some nice touches in this documentary. For example, having them start with “Going Down” instead of “My Generation.” Speaking of the latter, it was Stamp who came up with the idea for Daltrey to stutter in the song. But when it comes to ideas, Townshend didn’t seem to want to give as much credit to Lambert when it came to his rock opera Tommy.
Yet for every nugget of trivia we got, we had stuff that was never covered. Those things would include: The Who playing at Woodstock, the cost of new equipment every time they smashed their instruments, and the biggest admission – how Kit Lambert died! We assume it was an overdose, but they glossed over it. We heard more about Moon’s death.
And with two key members of The Who and a manger dying from ODs (and Townshend in previous statements talking about his drinking)…it’s strange that we didn’t get more on the drug use.
Loved seeing clips of Arthur Brown (Fire) and Thunderclap Newman (Something in the Air), yet maybe because of the recent documentary The Wrecking Crew, I would’ve liked to see a lot more musicians talking about how important management could be.
This documentary was edited poorly and is disorganized. It’s certainly not as good as The Kids Are Alright from 1979. And that documentary on the band wasn’t mentioned, which is odd, because it’s exactly the type of movie these managers would’ve loved to have done. It was being made at a time when they were nearing the end of their time with the band. Perhaps they felt that since so much time was devoted to the movie Tommy, they didn’t need to mention Kids.
It might only be for fans of ‘60s rock, but I had a blast watching it. You could leave the theatre humming a Who song, without the ringing ears of a concert.
3 stars out of 5.