Within the heady pantheon of 60’s rock and roll it’s fair to say that Sam Cutler has seen, heard and experienced it all.
From tour managing the Rolling Stones during their turbulent late 60’s period (including the infamous Altamont episode – google it if you need to) through to his involvement in turning around the financial fortunes of the Grateful Dead and hobnobbing with a veritable plethora of 60’s and 70’s musical taste shapers (hello Hendrix, Joplin, Clapton and Pink Floyd!)
Having stepped out of the musical spotlight and now residing in the idyllic surrounds of Byron Bay, Sam delivers a special reading from his 2008 memoir You Can’t Always Get What You Want at the Dust Temple on Saturday 2 May at 3.00pm. In the lead up to this unique and reverent event, Anthony Gebhardt fired off a few questions to the man himself…
Your occupations have been listed as; tour manager, stage manager, master of ceremonies, teacher, author and even executive nanny! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Father of two sons, sculptor..
You’ve been credited with turning around the financial fortunes of The Grateful Dead s…was it difficult to juggle the hard-nosed, business requirements, dealing with personalities and egos and maintaining friendships and respect for the artist?
Sometimes it was very difficult, BUT the job was made easier by the fact that the Grateful Dead were sick of being broke and wanted to learn how to be a financially successful band.
What are your memories of the 1973 rock festival The Summer Jam at Watkins Glen – in the history books as having the largest amount of paid attendees at 700 000?
Stressful LOL!!!! BUT it is all a matter of ‘degree’. A concert/gig is the same (in a sense) whether one has a thousand people at it or 700 thousand. The sound systems have to work, catering has to
function, security has to be dealt with…
You’re credited with coining the phrase “ladies and gentlemen, the greatest rock and roll band in the world” when introducing The Rolling Stones during their 1969 tour. Are there any other bands that come to mind as possibly being worthy of such a mantle?
To my mind no band comes even close to The Rolling Stones.
Did you manage to catch up with any of The Stones when they were here on their most recent tour?
When the Stones were here last year I took my two sons to visit with them and we had an amazing time. The Stones were very welcoming and we are all old friends.
Your background with The Rolling Stones and The Grateful Dead has been quite well documented. Can you tell us about a few of the other artists who you were involved with during those heady times?
I worked with many of the artists of the British 60’s, particular highlights were doing the Pink Floyd shows at The Roundhouse and Blind Faith’s free concert in Hyde Park.
Does your relationship with Pink Floyd go back far enough to include knowing Syd Barrett, what were your interactions with ‘The Madcap’ himself?
Yes I knew Syd quite well – it was like being friends with a ‘concrete perfume’ – easier to experience than describe!! Syd was very ‘ethereal’ and always had the most gorgeous girl on his arm, some
wispy hippie, and it was difficult to pay attention to him when a trippy goddess was so close nearby. LOL
What are your thoughts on the evolution of the music festival experience over the decades?
I think I’m over standing in muddy fields listening to music BUT if the music’s right and the bands are hot, who can resist going ‘one more time’?
What is your opinion on the state of the music industry in general in this day and age of DIY and digital downloads?
I think it’s harder to be a GOOD musician, so much mediocrity about!!!
Are you still directly involved in the music side of the industry in any capacity?
I play guitar for my own pleasure and mentor several people.
So how did a worldly chap at the epicentre of rock and roll end up residing in a sleepy little neck of the woods such as the Byron Bay area!?
BECAUSE I LOVE IT!!!!
Do you have any other rock and roll memoirs in the pipeline outside of your 2008 book?
Yes, it’s busy being born.
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Sam Cutler reads from his memoir You Can’t Always Get What you Want at the Dust Temple, Currumbin on Saturday 2 May from 3.00pm.
The event will also feature a performance from that talented English Miss, DJ Sixties Sarah, who will be exclusively spinning 45 RPM vinyl from her collection of classic 60’s sounds.