Note that the labels say Track Record, not as in most books ‘Track Records’.
Track was formed by Who managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, two larger than life sixties characters. Lambert was an ex-army officer, and assistant director on From Russia With Love and The Guns of Navarone. On an expedition to the Amazon jungle to research a film, his companion was killed by tribesmen, and Lambert arrested on suspicion of murder. When he got back to the UK, he worked with fellow film director Chris Stamp (brother of actor Terence Stamp) on a film about a pop group, for which they recruited The High Numbers, who became The Who. They became their managers, and eventually took over as producers too. They were the prime Swinging London double act. Lambert was the son of composer Constance Lambert with a cut-glass Advanced RP accent, while Chris Stamp spoke cheerful loveable Cockney. Roger Daltrey said:
Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp were the fifth and sixth members of the Who: Kit, with his outrageous behaviour and ideas on how to manipulate the media, and Chris, the expert in cool, menace, and scams! Their contribution to the band should never be underestimated
Like Reaction and Marmalade, Track was a “manager” label sponsored by and pressed by Polydor. Lambert and Stamp had tested the water with The Who on Robert Stigwood’s Reaction label, another Polydor-sponsored label. They had spent months researching the finances of record production.
Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp had been laying plans for their own record label, Track Records, since the previous summer. They realized that the bulk of the clout and cash in the record business did not go to managers or even producers but to the corporations that made and distributed the records. According to the figures the worked up before starting Track, the record company grossed up to 500% more profit than the performer on each Who record. The situation was worse in Britain than in some countries (notably the United States) because in addition to their powerful distribution setups, the four major recording companies also operated virtually all of the record- pressing plants. As a result of what were effectively pressing and distribution monopolies, the major UK record companies were able to drive nasty, often unfair bargains with anyone who wanted to start a label on their own.
Dave Marsh: Before I Get Old: The Inside Story of The Who, 1983.
Track gets started
No other label can boast four all-time classics in its first four single releases (Purple Haze, Pictures of Lily, Desdemona, The Wind Cries Mary).
LP Galleries… click to enlarge
The first three LPs were Are You Experienced? (UK#2) The Who Sell Out (UK#13) and Axis Bold As Love (UK #5). Tommy was a Track album.
Track held the ace: they had Jimi Hendrix, and quickly became the label new bands aspired to.
After getting nowhere with Decca’s Dick Rowe (the unfortunate chap who had turned down The Beatles), a momentarily crestfallen Chas Chandler found no trouble landing a deal with the fledgling Track label. Reportedly signed on a beermat at the Scotch of St James, the deal offered a £1000 advance, but the clincher was the promise of an appearance on the happening TV show, Ready Steady Go! Track belonged to the Who’s managers, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. The only problem was that the label was not yet fully functioning, so Hey Joe! would have to come out as a one-off with Polydor, Track’s distribution company.
Kris Needs, ‘Technicolour Dreams,’ Record Collector #330, December 2006
I would call Polydor the ‘sponsors’ as well as the distributors.
(Hey Joe) was all over the pirate stations, London and Caroline, not least because Jeffrey (Hendrix’s co-manager) had promised a cut of the publishing on ‘Stone Free’ in return for airplay. Later Kit Lambert unashamedly admitted that everyone – from Track staff to Hendrix’s girlfriend Kathy Etchingham – was dispatched to buy multiple copies of the single.
Kris Needs, ‘Technicolour Dreams,’ Record Collector #330, December 2006
After Hey, Joe they were all on Track, including Purple Haze, the very first Track record, and the only one with a white centre label. It was changed soon after its release to black. Lambert and Stamp had worked out that if they had led their release programme with The Who, they would look like a one man band. Or rather, a one band label. So starting out with Hendrix was a conscious decision.
Lambert and Stamp’s names and that of Pete Townsend crop up on other productions. Fire, by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown … Produced by Kit Lambert, Associate Producer Pete Townsend. Something in the Air by Thunderclap Newman … Pete Townsend, arranger, engineer, bass guitar. And Townsend assembled them. The Who had been promised involvement in the label.
This is from the first Track press release in 1967:
TRACK will be seeking promising new writers for its artistes and its associated publishing company
In association with TRACK, each member of The WHO will specialise in discovering, selecting and recording various forms of music.
Lead singer ROGER DALTREY heads the Soul and R & B section: KEITH MOON leads the Surf and Good Time Music section: lead guitarist PETE TOWNSHEND fronts the Jazz and New Sounds department, and bass guitarist JOHN ENTWISTLE will concentrate on orchestral material.
KIT LAMBERT is personally responsible for the Classical department of TRACK.
It never happened. The Who members were also promised directorships which never materialised either. Apart from the string of Who hits, an early release was The Who’s cover versions of The Last Time / Under My Thumb, released as a “benefit” during The Rolling Stones infamous marijuana bust.
I have some doubts about the Lambert / Stamp / Who image as cheerful looning diamond geezers. See my account of Keith Moon in the Reaction label article. (LINKED)
At Lambert’s suggestion, Marc Bolan had been drafted in to boost John’s Children for Desdemona, which briefly charted in some charts. The Laurence Olivier Othello with Olivier in ludicrous blackface make-up had been in the cinemas in 1965-66 and no doubt inspired the name. It was banned by the BBC for the line lift up your skirts and fly. Simon Napier-Bell was their manager and his book describes how they successfully bought their previous record into the NME chart at #28. For Desdemona, taking a front cover advert no doubt should have helped, but according to Guinness (based on Record Retailer), it didn’t chart. At the time Napier-Bell bought masses of radio play and it was on all the time on dying pirate radio. It’s now easily the most valuable of the first four Track singles. It was one of the memorable songs of the year, and there was a strong suspicion around that it got “Sex Pistoled” by the chart compilers after the BBC ban. That means it was decided not to admit its sales to the listings. Napier-Bell says the sales prove it should have charted, but to be fair, copies turn up very rarely. Their album, also produced by Simon Napier-Bell was called Orgasm, but never saw the light of day until the Cherry Red label issued it in 1982.
Kit put the group on tour with The Who in Germany. I helped John’s Children devise a suitably manic stage act in which they would appear to act out their frustrations with one another. A letter in Melody Maker from a British soldier in Germany described it well: ‘The lead singer … rolled on stage, had a fight with the bass guitarist, leapt into the audience several times, and collapsed crying into the back of the stage. The lead guitarist kicked his equipment, beat the stage with a silver chain and sat in a trance between the speakers … it was sickening.’
Simon Napier-Bell, Black Vinyl, White Powder, 2002
Track persisted doggedly with Desdemona, releasing versions by Marsha Hunt in 1969 and as their last single by Heartbreakers in 1978. They had faith in John’s Children, releasing three singles plus solo Andy Ellison, and years later a Marc Bolan track. A withdrawn single by John’s Children, Midsummer Night’s Dream is rated at £4000 mint (if one were ever to turn up … and beware, pirate copies do). The same catalogue number was assigned to Come and Play With Me In The Garden. Both Desdemona and Come and Play With Me In The Garden have rare picture sleeves on early copies.
Cherry Smash recorded Sing Songs of Love in 1967, and were produced by Manfred Mann’s Mike Hugg, featuring his brother on lead vocal. The band, like Manfred Mann a few years earlier, were based in Gosport. The track was on Manfred Mann’s Up The Junction soundtrack.
Marsha Hunt, star of Hair and dating Mick Jagger, added more cred. Track courted controversy. Marsha Hunt’s cover of Dr John The Night Tripper’s best known song was listed as WOGS in the International Times whole page advert with a naked pic of the Afro-haired Marsha, taken by David Bailey. WOGS stands for Walk On Gilded Splinters. Or is an extremely racist term to grab attention. The same ad has Thunderclap Newman’s Something In The Air.
Marsha Hunt had star (superstar?) quality. She was American, moved to Europe (compare Madeleine Bell, P.P. Arnold, Donna Summer), worked with Alexis Korner, John Mayall, Long John Baldry’s Bluesology (duetting with Reg Dwight, aka Elton John) and ended up in Hair (Donna Summer had the same role in Munich).
Marsha Hunt: Tony Hall brought Kit Lambert to see me at The Shaftesbury Theatre, and that’s how I ended up leaving the show and signing with Track. He (Lambert) thought he was stealing me from Robert Stigwood … they thought they had a female Jimi Hendrix.
Interviewed by Martin Ruddock, Shindig 106, August 2020
Lambert brought in Tony Visconti as her producer for I Walk On Gilded Splinters. Visconti claims she liked to sing naked, with newspaper taped over the vocal booth.
Tony Visconti: A song I had recorded with Marsha Hunt made the charts; hers was one of the most interesting projects I worked on in the first half of 1969. The gorgeous black American singer, who was appearing nightly in the London production of Hair, and I recorded Walk On Gilded Splinters. The song, composed by Dr John, entered the chart at No. 46 but dropped out two weeks later when it stopped getting any radio plays. Marsha had appeared on Top of The Pops and – shock horror- one of her breasts dropped out f her loose-fitting halter top; it was live TV … the BBC was united in condemning Marsha. I think they may have banned her for life.
Tony Visconti: The Autobiography, 2007
To me, the Top of The Pops incident smacks of a Lambert inspired publicity stunt. It backfired. Things were going well musically until Chris Stamp returned to the UK, furious that Lambert had signed her without consulting him. Lambert was told to take over from Visconti in the producer’s chair (to save money?)
Marsha Hunt: I got involved wth the coke-heads who ran the record company. What ended up happening was bullshit. (Lambert) took me into the studio to record Desdemona and he’s too fucking stoned to light his own cigarette. The next thing I know, Vicki Wickham’s going to finish the session. It’s her first production. My producer has stopped producing and given me to a new producer who’s actually the booking girl from Ready Steady Go.
Interviewed by Martin Ruddock, Shindig 106, August 2020
The cunning stunts went on:
At The Reading Festival, Arthur Brown was lowered on to the stage from a helicopter with his hair aflame. He’d just released a record on Track called Fire and this was Kit Lambert’s publicity stunt. But Arthur jumped around too much and set the stage on fire. The gig was cancelled and there was no music, but the press coverage was good and the record got to number one.
Simon Napier-Bell, Black Vinyl, White Powder, 2002
45 centre labels: click to enlarge
The Last Time: The Who 1967 604006, push-out centre
Burning of The Midnight Lamp, Jimi Hendrix Experience, 1967, 604007, closed centre
Track used plain sleeves, and though they settled on plain black, they started with white and tried buff. I suspect it was whatever plain sleeves were available.
45 gallery: plain sleeves … click to enlarge
The Wind Cries Mary: Jimi Hendrix Experience 1967, 604004, closed centre, white sleeve
Sing Songs of Love, Cherry Smash, 1967, 604017, push-out centre, buff sleeve
Fire, TheCrazy World of Arthur Brown, 1968, 604022, push-out centre, black sleeve
The first Fairport Convention recordings were done by Joe Boyd for Track with If I Had A Ribbon Bow being their debut single. The LP Fairport Convention was put out under the Polydor logo, rather than Track.
Polydor had had the rights to the small Detroit label, Ric Tic for a number of years, and they were due to expire in 1970. In 1967 and 1968 a number of the soul sides were released on Track, among them Tony Simon, The Parliaments, The Precisions, The Sand Pebbles, Al Kent and The Debonaires. They didn’t sell well, but are now much sought after by soul collectors. Backtrack 6 is an LP compilation of them.
Gallery – click to enlarge.
Excerpts from Tommy: The Who, 1970. An EP rather than a single and it plays at 33 1/3 rpm
Because Track was pressed by Polydor, some singles came new with large hole centres and fitted three-prong Polydor spiders. The Polygram group (Philips /Polydor / Mercury / DGG) was a German / Dutch company and they decided it would be more economical to press everything with large holes, suiting for most of Europe, then adapt with spiders for the UK.
Gallery – click to enlarge.
The Rare Record Guide rates Won’t Get Fooled Again in a picture sleeve at £35 with a small hole centre, but £25 with a large hole and spider.
Polygram were also responsible for introducing plastic pressed centres instead of paper labels., making Polygram releases aesthetically unpleasing
Gallery – click to enlarge.
Giving It All Away: Roger Daltrey, Track, 1973. Silver plastic centre and black sleeve
Louisa on A Horse: John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett, (Produced by Pete Townshend), Track 1976
By 1976, some Polygram labels dropped the ubiquitous black sleeve and introduced an indigo one, which must have been custom produced. It’s seen on all EG label releases, but also on the tail end of Track.
In America, Track was pressed and distrubuted by MCA with a brown and blue centre label, in standard MCA sleeves:
In 1999, Ian Grant who managed The Stranglers, The Cult and Big Country got permission from Kit Lambert to use the Track label again.
Track Record: selected singles discography:
|604001||Jimi Hendrix Experience||Purple Haze||1967||3|
|604002||The Who||Pictures of Lily||1967||4|
|604003||John’s Children||Desdemona||1967||28 (NME)|
|604004||Jimi Hendrix Experience||The Wind Cries Mary||1967||6|
|604005||John’s Children||Come and Play With Me In The Garden||1967||–|
|604006||The Who||The Last Time / Under My Thumb||1967||44|
|604007||Jimi Hendrix Experience||Burning of The Midnight Lamp||1967||18|
|604010||John’s Children||Go Go Girl||1967||–|
|604011||The Who||I Can See For Miles||1967||10|
|604013||The Parliaments||(I Wanna) Testify||1967||–|
|604015||The Sand Pebbles||Love Power||1967||–|
|604017||Cherry Smash||Sing Songs of Love||1967||–|
|604019||Eire Apparent||Follow Me||1968||–|
|604020||Fairport Convention||If I Had A Ribbon Bow||1968||–|
|604022||Crazy World of Arthur Brown||Fire||1968||1|
|604024||The Who||Magic Bus||1968||25|
|604025||Jimi Hendrix Experience||All Along The Watchtower||1968||5|
|604027||The Who||Pinball Wizaed||1969||4|
|604029||Jimi Hendrix Experience||Cross Town Traffic||1969||36|
|604030||Marsha Hunt||I Walk On Gilded Splinters||1969||46|
|604031||Thunderclap Newman||Something In The Air||1968||1|
|604036||The Who||The Seeker||1970||19|
|604037||Marsha Hunt||Keep The Customer Satisfied||1970||41|
|2094 002||The Who||Summertime Blues||1970||38|
|2094 004||The Who||See Me, Feel Me||1970|
|2252 001||The Who||Excerpts From Tommy (EP)||1970|
|2095 001||Jimi Hendrix Experience||Voodoo Chile||1970||1|
|2094 007||Jimi Hendrix Experience||Angel||1971||–|
|2094 009||The Who||Won’t Get Fooled Again||1971||9|
|2094 010||Jimi Hendrix Experience||Gypsy Eyes||1971||35|
|2094 012||The Who||Let’s See Action||1971||16|
|2094 102||The Who||Join Together||1972||9|
|2094 106||The Who||Relay||1973||21|
|2094 110||Roger Daltrey||Giving It All Away||1973||20|
|2094 115||The Who||5.15||1973||20|
|2094 116||Golden Earring||Radar Love||1973||7|
|2094 013||Marc Bolan||Jasper C. Debussy||1974||–|
|2094 131||Labelle||Miss Otis Regrets||1976||–|
|2094 134||Shakin’ Stevens||Never||1977||–|
LP gallery … click to enlarge
You Can’t Beat People Up and Have Them Say I Love You: Murray Roman, comedy LP 1968
Hollywood Dream: Thunderclap Newman, LP 1970 (Produced by Pete Townshend)
ThirdWorld War II: Third World War, LP 1972
Previous Convictions: Speedy Keene, LP 1973
Switch: Golden Earring, LP 1975
Shakin’ Stevens: Shakin’ Stevens, LP 1978
The Album Charts
|Jimi Hendrix Experience||Are You Experienced?||1967||2|
|The Who||The Who Sell Out||1967||13|
|Jimi Hendrix Experience||Axis Bold As Love||1967||5|
|Jimi Hendrix Experience||Smash Hits||1968||4|
|Crazy World of Arthur Brown||Crazy World of Arthur Brown||1968||2|
|Jimi Hendrix Experience||Electric Ladyland||1968||6|
|The Who||Live At Leeds||1970||3|
|Jimi Hendrix Experience||Band of Gypsys||1970||6|
|Jimi Hendrix Experience||Cry of Love||1971||2|
|The Who||Who’s Next||1971||1|
|The Who||Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy||1971||9|
|Pete Townshend||Who Came First||1972||30|
|Roger Daltrey||Daltry||1973||6 (NME)|
– (Rec Ret)
|The Who||Odds and Sods||1974||10|
One of Track’s innovations was the Backtrack series of recent LPs in plain covers. The reissue of Are You Experienced was plain brown, with the logos above in the corner, front and back. It was ‘Trackton’ at £1 or 100 New Pence … ‘doing the ton’ was driving at 100 mph.
Then they switched to 99p… think Tesco Value packaging, but that was in line with several other Polygram distributed labels. These Backtrack issues included Are You Experienced? and The Who’s A Quick One and The Who Sell Out.
The other Backtrack design was half and half with the child smoking a joint picture, and was used on the samplers the label released as well as reissued LPs and compilations at 99p. One compilation had six Hendrix hits on one side, six Who on the other.
The Who remained the centrepiece of the operation, with Lambert heavily involved in the Tommy concept.
The Who LPs on Track … click to enlarge
Direct Hits, 1968 (Reaction and Track singles)
Tommy, 2 LP set, May 1969
Live At Leeds, May 1970
Who’s Next, August 1971
Meaty, Big & Bouncy (Greatest Hits) October 1971
Quadrophenia, 2 LP set, October 1973
Odds and Sods, 1974
Pete Townshend has acknowledged how important Kit Lambert was in encouraging him on Tommy, sketching a storyline and in producing.
Pete Townshend: He (Kit Lambert) educated me by encouraging me. It’s what made him a great mentor. He could see that I was at my best when I was dealing with my conscience … Kit often used to fatasize about doing things on a grand scale. It as him pushing us to do things in a grander way, he was telling me I was a great writer and I believed him because I wanted to believe him.
(Various sources, quoted in Q: The Who Inside Story. Special Edition)
Tommy as a “masterpiece”, restored The Who’s finances and credibility. I had seen them live at the pre-Tommy nadir, I guess. It would have been early 1968 in Hull (NOT the 1970 one). They actually weren’t very good at all … nowhere near as impressive as in the I Can’t Explain era when I first saw them.
Pete Townshend: Tommy was definitely the result of image building. I mean, I’d spent two years writing the thing, but it was still more an image idea than a musical idea. And it was the whole thing of it being taken up in the States as a musical masterpiece that threw us. From selling 1500 copies of The Who Sell Out, right, we were suddenly selling 20 million or whatever it was, of Tommy … it had to have repercussions.
Melody Maker 25 September 1971
For me, a Who singles album, Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy surpasses any of the studio albums, even Tommy. I have a special affection for Live at Leeds with it’s ‘bootleg’ style sleeve. The set has been expanded in newer and much longer complete versions, and joined by Live at Hull in 2012, the other Yorkshire set they did the same week. Lambert said that everyone else did Live at The Hollywood Bowl or Live at The Paladium or Live at Madison Square Gardens or Live in Las Vegas, and he wanted a “real” live gig, taping Leeds and Hull. There is a dark rumour that Leeds was actually Hull, and so then Hull was actually Leeds, simply because Live and Leeds ran off the tongue, but it doesn’t matter in the end. Both were combined in the Live at Leeds box set, and the bass guitar on some tracks with technical problems was matched from Leeds into the Hull versions.
Live at Leeds was the first album I ever heard on headphones … yes, there was a time when headphones were an arcane specialist thing. I couldn’t believe that John Entwhistle’s bass guitar was like a chinstrap, running below my chin and joining up my ears.
LP centre labels … click to enlarge
Move over … let Jimi come in … click to enlarge
The first pressing of Electric Ladyland in the naked ladies sleeve, October 1968. It was organized by Chris Stamp, who offered a group of girls at a club £5 each to go topless, or £10 to strip completely. Marsha Hunt has pointed out that the photo was taken six weeks after the opening of Hair in London when nudity was all the news. Some shops banned it, but apparently Jimi Hendrix hated it most of all.
Jimi Hendrix: Folks in Britain are kicking against the cover. Man, I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t have put the picture on the sleeve myself, but it wasn’t my decision. It’s mostly all bullshit.
So … both Jimi Hendrix and ‘the female Jimi Hendrix’ Marsha Hunt came to the same conclusion about Lambert and Stamp: It’s all bullshit.
The girls didn’t like it either. One was interviewed by Melody Maker:
It makes us look like a load of old tarts, it’s rotten. Everyone looked great, but the picture makes us look old and tired. We were trying to look too sexy, but it didn’t work out.
Jimi Hendrix went to a great deal of effort sketching out the cover HE wanted for US release by Reprise. He didn’t get that either. When the 50th Anniversary Super De Luxe edition appeared in 2018 (3 CDs + blu-ray or 6 LPs plus blu-ray) they went for a totally different sleeve to either the Track original or the Reprise replacement. Mostly collectors would want the reissue to have a facsimile of the original artwork and much was made of Jimi’s original dislike in explaining why they weren’t going to follow that route. I suspect though, that in 2018, that original sleeve was simply too “un-PC’ and that’s the main reason it was not reproduced … I believe a facsimile original was the way to go, even if Hendrix had hated it..
Jimi’s next sleeve, Band of Gypsys (sic … most spell the plural as Gypsies) was also withdrawn and replaced at high speed. Seeking controversy, the puppets were Jimi, Bob Dylan, Brian Jones and major DJ John Peel. Brian Jones was dead, Jimi had covered Dylan, John Peel’s Top Gear had hosted him. It was replaced with a live photo, taken from the Isle of Wight Festival. Suffice it to say that a mint “puppet sleeve” is rated at £200. The replacement at £50.
The Cry of Love was posthumous, released in 1971 and a #2 UK album chart hit. It was promoted as a complete Hendrix album, which wasn’t true.
Although many songs had been laid down in a state of near-completion, there’s no telling what Jimi might have added, erased, or otherwise changed, especially bearing in mind his perfectionist nature … The biggest compromise, however, was the decision to make the record a single disc, rather than the double LP that Hendrix had envisioned. … For these reasons, [The Cry of Love] can’t be considered to be the fourth studio album Hendrix would have released had he survived, whether it would have ended up being called First Rays of the Rising Sun or something else
Richie Unterberger: The Rough Guide To Jimi Hendrix, 2009
Track truly sought controversy as publicity. An unusual Track release was in conjunction with Apple … John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Two Virgins. EMI declined to release it, probably because of the naked John and Yoko on the cover, but being musically abysmal would have been a valid reason too. Track stepped in to distribute … after Electric Ladyland they were used to nudity … though the discs were pressed by EMI. The first stereo releases carried a Track logo and catalogue number 613012:
Only 5000 copies were pressed in the UK, but in the USA it actually charted at #124.
Back to The Who …
Things didn’t end well.
Session for Who’s Next with Lambert were abandoned after a ‘series of disastrous drug and alcohol fuelled sessions” (Q: The Who Inside Story. Special Edition). Glyn Johns was brought in to produce instead.
Pete Townshend: I don’t think Kit really understood that the group wanted to improve its sound among other things. So we got slightly frustrated despite the fact that he’s an incredible producer. I think when Kit realized we were unhappy with him he was hurt and opted out completely rather than take a downward slide. We just generally moved apart.
Melody Maker, 25 September 1971, interview on release of Who’s Next.
By 1972-73 The Who had started to see Lambert and Stamp in a negative light. Townshend and Moon still supported the managers, Entwhistle was neutral, Daltrey was strongly against them. (compare, The Beatles … Paul McCartney v Allan Klein, The Band … Levon Helm v Albert Grossman).
Keith Moon was particularly close to Lambert, who nurtured his fantasies of aristocratic tastes. Eric Burdon was talking about The Animals’ manager, but you can extrapolate:
Eric Burdon: They worked us to death … we had Mike Jeffries who was an ex-British Army Secret Service guy, who used everything from drugs to fucking sex to manipulate people. He just fucked us up. Not to mention Jimi Hendrix. I was on the inside of that.
Eric Burdon, Record Collector #209, January 1997
John Entwhistle and Pete Townshend solo albums … click to enlarge
John Entwhistle had done two Track solo albums Smash Your Head Against The Wall in 1971 and Whistle Rhymes in 1972, then an oldies album Rigor Mortis Sets In was planned for 1973. Yet no one had worried about The Who splitting as a result of Entwhistle’s solo work.
Pete Townshend released Who Came First in October 1972, and it charted, but again, no one seemed worried about the group breaking up. Townshend had already issued two albums dedicated to Meher Baba for private distribution. This was the bootleg era and copies were soon circulating, so he decided to release them properly … basically they were demos for the abortive Lifehouse project re-thought. He played virtually everything and recorded in his home studio. No one thought of it as a serious attempt at a solo career.
Roger Daltrey? A different matter. They foresaw a Rod Stewart / Faces situation.
Lambert and Stamp had dismissed Roger Daltrey’s solo work out of hand for starters, and made every effort to derail the Daltrey album, which used songs by David Courtney and Leo Sayer and production by Courtney with Adam Faith . Daltrey got to UK #6 in the album chart, but a disappointing #45 in the USA, the single Giving It All Away was a UK #5. He must have felt vindicated.
Then The Who had started building their own studio in late 1972, and a few months later they needed cash to finish the job. Dave Marsh recounts what happened:
Bill Curbishley and the group’s accountants went to Lambert and Stamp, in their role as Track’s owners, to ask for the money, informing the duo that The Who were owed £100,000 ($250,000) in record royalties. (The Who, despite repeated promises, were still not directors of Track).
I told Lambert and Stamp what the figure was and they said, “We can’t give them all of that. We’ll give them sixty per cent or seventy per cent,” Curbishley recalled. ‘So they wrote the cheque out. Kit was going to Venice the next day and unbeknownst to me, he stopped the cheque before he went. The band went fucking crazy.
Dave Marsh, Before I Get Old: The Story of The Who, 1983
Keith Moon did his own star-studded solo album in 1975, Two Sides of The Moon but that didn’t worry anyone either, perhaps due to his total lack of singing ability. This was the effete character, absurd as it was, that Kit Lambert had encouraged in Keith Moon.
After The Who finally sacked Lambert and Stamp as managers in 1975 they moved to New York City and signed Labelle as one of their final stabs at the music business. Lambert died in 1981 – Tony Visconti’s autobiography suggests it was after being pushed downstairs by his drug dealer. Chris Stamp died in 2012