Sam Cutler, Tour Manager for Stones, Dies at 80

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Sam Cutler and Keith Richards via Cutler’s Facebook page

Sam Cutler, who served as tour manager for the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead and others, died July 11, 2023, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Born in England, he had lived in Australia for many years. The cause was cancer, said his family in a social media post. Cutler was 80.

Cutler, who was the road manager for the Stones during the group’s 1969 American tour, is credited with coining the phrase “Ladies and gentlemen… the greatest rock and roll band in the world” to introduce the group as it took the stage.

He was working with the Stones at the time the band performed free concerts at London’s Hyde Park and, more notoriously, the Altamont Speedway in California. At the latter, the subject of the documentary film Gimme Shelter, a young man was stabbed in front of the stage by Hells Angels as the Stones performed.

Cutler at Altamont (Photo, from the film Gimme Shelter, from his Facebook page)

Cutler’s two children, Bodhi and Chesley, posted the following statement on his social media pages:

“Our father was first diagnosed with cancer nearly a decade ago, and it is with gratitude that Sam’s family thank the wonderful doctors, nurses, hospital staff and administrators in ALL hospitals that our father received treatment within,” they said.

“Many people from across our big beautiful world crossed paths with Sam in his life, and many more formed timeless memories with him that are each beautiful encapsulations of the man that he was.

“Sam would want nothing more for his friends to continue to form timeless memories with whomever they meet, and to share those memories with him in the next life.

“As per our father’s wishes, his ashes will be scattered in the foundations of a newly constructed Buddhist temple at the Chenrezig Institute, due to be completed in 2025.

“Our family asks for privacy at this time, and we thank you all very much for your messages of support.”

Related: Read about the ill-fated 1969 Altamont concert starring the Stones

Sam Cutler was born Brendan Lawrence Lyons on March 10, 1943, in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England. His first jobs in the music business occurred during the mid-1960s, when he worked as stage manager for Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton and others. After the Hyde Park concert, for which he served as master of ceremonies, Cutler was hired by the Rolling Stones as the band’s road manager.

Sam Cutler and Bob Weir (Photo via Cutler’s Facebook page)

Following the debacle at Altamont, Cutler remained in the United States to work with the Grateful Dead as the band’s tour manager, later being promoted to the California group’s co-manager. He remained with the Dead through the early ’70s, helping to coordinate such landmark events as 1970’s Festival Express across Canada and the 1973 concert at Watkins Glen in New York State, which also featured the Allman Brothers Band and the Band. That concert became the most heavily attended of all time up to that point, attracting more than 600,000 fans. Cutler also worked with the Dead on their European tour of 1972, represented on the triple-LP Europe ’72.

Cutler subsequently created the company Out of Town Tours, which represented not only the Dead but such popular acts as the Band, New Riders of the Purple Sage, the Allmans, Mike Bloomfield and others.

After relocating to Australia, Cutler remained involved in the music business, working with local bands. He published his memoir, You Can’t Always Get What You Want: My Life with the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead and Other Wonderful Reprobates in 2008.

Watch a video of Cutler discussing the Altamont concert

Related: Musicians we’ve lost in 2023

Jeff Tamarkin

2 Comments so far

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  1. John Ellis
    #1 John Ellis 14 July, 2023, 17:20

    Thanks for the obit. The linked YouTube of Sam is really fun!

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  2. Jmack
    #2 Jmack 15 July, 2023, 12:57

    I met him at dark star Orchestra show maybe 10-12 years ago he was promoting his book and I bought it.. he came across as kind of a grumpy old man, not very pleasant , typical Englishman with attitude but he did have an interesting life

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