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‘Fare thee well, Sam Cutler…’ (A farewell letter to the Rolling Stones’ tour manager, by Roxanne Fontana)

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‘Fare thee well, Sam Cutler…’ (by Roxanne Fontana)

Sam Cutler was an English tour manager for groups like The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, and others. He was born Brendan Lawrence Lyons and passed away in Brisbane, Australia from cancer.on July 11, 2023 at the age of 80. Cutler was credited with creating the Rolling Stones’ famous introduction, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World” fare

I knew Sam Cutler before I knew him. We all do. The voice that opens the Rolling Stones’ top ‘live’ album, ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out’. Sam Cutler was the person who dubbed that band, “The Greatest Rock N’ Roll band in the world,” in 1969, which proved prophetic in the decade (s?) that followed. The title that surprisingly made Mick Jagger cringe back then, according to Mr. Cutler. Mick also never forgave Sam Cutler for the admirable task of staying behind in San Francisco after Altamont, for soothing the rift between the Hell’s Angels, and the rock music world after the debacle we all witnessed in the film ‘Gimme Shelter’.

Sam stayed in California after band left, he intuitively left swinging London behind to die, and embarked on his new life affiliated with the USA. His introductions became legendary, introducing to the stage everyone of the era, from Janis Joplin to the Allman Brothers, and The Grateful Dead who adopted him and never let him go. fare

rolling stones sam cutler roxanne fontana fare thee well
Fontana and Cutler (wearing Roxanne’s jewels)

Sam Cutler’s main accomplishment in life isn’t really the association with rock music, nor his image and libido – shadily immortalized in the Stanley Booth book ‘True Adventures of the Rolling Stones.” It was his energy and desire and achievement to grow intellectually, spiritually, sociologically and of course geographically. Such was his character that the dignified and elegant Charlie Watts, who bristled at rock n roll life, once stating to Ron Wood’s face, that he keeps people like Ronnie out of his dressing room, was visibly thrilled to see Sam Cutler when the band visited Australia on their last visit.

The whole band, except for Mick harbouring ancient grudges which some agree with, were all smiles to see Sam. Further, the ever-discerning Charlie invited the man to visit him at his home in England. This came to pass, and I have to believe this is also testament to Sam’s intellectualism however Bohemian, as well as Charlie’s own smarts. Sam’s personality took care of his livelihood, even until the end. fare

He philosophized, via facebook, that in his final years, he should abandon houses or apartments, and live on a bus. Admirers worldwide, mainly Grateful Dead fans, contributed financially to this dream sending him the funds to actually hire locals in Australia to build a bus for him to live in, which he graciously and ecstatically did. Beyond his development as a whole person growing old, he became an incredible writer, really – far better than pretty much any of his peers, including the songwriters.

There are more than a few people that I find fascinating from the Golden Age of the 1960s and some of these people took to technology and emerged on social media, and I have reached out, usually honoured to be noticed by the many who dig me right back. Such was the case with Sam Cutler. We began a friendship via private messages, and when he visited London to promote his book, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” I went to his party. We finally met in real life. fare

This voice from the album I’ve played so many times, my vinyl laughably worn. We spoke, smiled and compared rings. Years later I got him involved with the hit Brian Jones’ film, directed by Danny Garcia: Rolling Stone: The Life and Death of Brian Jones. My biggest thrill however was in 2015. It so happened that he was going to be in New York City (rare), when I was there. Those who follow me know that when I visit my home I am honoured with a party and a gig, with acts I get to choose which have included legends who have also recently left us: Alan Merrill – the most tragic victim of Covid 19, and David Peel.

Knowing Sam would be in town I obviously not only had to invite him to my show, but insist he baptize me, his holiness of the music stage, and introduce ME. He obliged, we laughed and a snippet of the moment was caught on film thanks to legendary NYC sound chickadee Brooke Delarco. Thank you Brooke! I cherish this forever. fare

Most in the audience didn’t realize who he was, although there were a few whispering, “Is that Sam Cutler??!” “Do you know who that is? – Sam Cutler!” In the years that followed my lucky break, Sam became very ill. He’s nearly left us all several times, via illnesses of all sorts including cancer. It became a breath-holding situation for all his followers and admirers around the world as he bounced back from each near-death experience. He had a very humorous attitude towards all of this, especially our concerns. But a few weeks ago, he finally left the building, and sadly left all of us with a void.

He let us go mercifully though, sparsely on facebook the past few months. Although we all know how many extra leases on life he was given. I am horrified to actually learn he reached out to call me on messenger about a week before he took his final breath, I didn’t see it there waiting for me. I have an image in my head of HEAVEN’S Angels, gathering by the pearly gates as they slowly open, and a humorous God announcing, “Everybody seems to ready. Are you ready?” God bless, RIP. fare

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