October 23, 2020

2015-04-24 – Arizona Republic

2015 04 24 Arizona_Republic_Fri__Apr_24__2015_

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Who? ‘Lambert & Stamp’ behind British band’s rise

BILL GOODYKOONTZ
THE REPUBLIC . AZCENTRAL.COM

It’s easy, as anyone who has ever seen
episodes of VHl’s series “Behind the Mu-
sic” can tell you, for rock-and—roll origin
stories to devolve into a generic blend of
sex, drugs and music.

We struggled, we got famous, we blew
it, we got clean, we’re back at it. Whose
story is that? Practically everyone’s. In-
sert your rock hero here.

But the best, like the episode about
the awful-but-popular band Styx, go in a
different direction. It was devoted to the
hilariously petty infighting that torpe-
doed the band at the height of its popular-
ity.

“Lambert & Stamp” is kind of like
that, only much, much better. It’s a riot.

James D. Cooper’s documentary is
about the Who, sort of. In reality, it’s the
story of Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert
(thus the title), the band’s first man-

****
‘Lambert & Stamp’

Director: James D. Cooper.

Cast: Kit Lambert, Chris Stamp, Pete Town-
shend.

Rating: R for language, some drug content
and brief nudity.

Note: At Harkins Camelview.

agers. Not that they cared to be. They
wanted to make movies, and thought that
maybe the story of finding and manag-
ing a new band would be a good subject
for one.

They latched onto the High N umbers,
a motley bunch playing pubs who
lacked direction. Enter Stamp, the son of
a tugboat captain, and Lambert, the OX-
ford—educated son of a classical compos-
er.

An unlikely pair (chalk and cheese, as
one person describes them), they helped
make one of the greatest bands in history

as a sidelight to their real moviemaking
mission. The movie never got made, but
the band did, and for most of us, that’s a
fair trade.

What really counts here, of course, is
the music and the stories. “Lambert &
Stamp” is generous with both. Richard
Barnes, known as Barney, tells great
yarns about coming up with the name for
the band, of what life was like in London
in the 19603 tagging along with the in-
creasingly famous band.

Stamp, who died in 2012 but
is featured in lengthy interviews, is the
younger brother of the actor Terence
Stamp.

The elder Stamp also shares some
tales of his brother’s early aimless days
trying to figure out what he wanted to do.
He finally got him to admit to one inter-
est: girls.

Lambert, who died in 1981 but shows
up in archival interviews and footage the
pair had filmed, was gay at a time when

admitting it was illegal in England. He
was as polished as Stamp was raucous,
and the mix proved magical.

Pete Townshend, the Who’s chief
songwriter and windmill—armed guitar-
ist, talks about his debt to the pair as a
performer and composer. They spotted
him as something special early on and
moved him to a nicer apartment.

Meanwhile, Roger Daltrey, the
group’s lead singer (and the only one
Stamp’s family didn’t think was too ugly
to be a rock star), talks about living in the
back of a van at the same time, until his
girlfriend insisted he move into Stamp
and Lambert’s office.

Like almost all of these stories, the
mix was far too volatile to last forever.
Lambert’s descent into drugs and mental
illness, along with the deaths of Keith
Moon and J ohn Entwistle, are reminders
that rock is a dangerous game.

But “Lambert 8: Stamp” is also a re-
minder that it’s great while it lasts.

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