Sam Cutler

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Sam Cutler
Sam Cutler.jpg
Background information
Born1943 (age 75–76)
OriginHatfield, Hertfordshire, England
GenresRock music
Occupation(s)Tour manager, band manager
Years active1969-1974
Associated actsThe Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, The Band, The Allman Brothers, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, The Sons of Champlin, Mike Bloomfield, Ramblin' Jack Elliott

Sam Cutler (born Brendan Lawrence Lyons in early 1943[1]) is best known as the former tour manager for The Rolling Stones[2], Grateful Dead[3], and numerous other major acts.

Early life and career[edit]

He is an Honours Graduate in Contemporary History (Open University) and a qualified teacher (University of Cambridge Institute of Education 1963-66).Cutler's O.U degree was gained at the end of the 1980's.

Cutler worked for Blackhill Enterprises, stage manager and master of ceremonies on a series of 1960s gigs in the U.K. and Europe with different artists, including Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Alexis Korner, et al. In 1969, he acted as master of ceremonies at The Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park London.

Following the Hyde Park show, Cutler was asked to be the personal road manager to The Rolling Stones during their 1969 Tour of America, which culminated in the infamous Altamont Free Concert where Afro-American arts student Meredith Curly Hunter, Jr. was killed in front of the stage. An autopsy revealed methamphetamine in his system at the time of death. Hells Angel Alan Passaro was charged and found not guilty of murder on grounds of self-defense.

Cutler is commonly credited with first uttering The Rolling Stones' famous intro line, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World…The Rolling Stones!”

Cutler can be seen in many scenes in the documentary film Gimme Shelter which covers the events of the 1969 American tour, and can be heard on The Rolling Stones live album Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! introducing the band. He can also be seen in the film Festival Express and Stones in the Park.

Throughout his rock and roll career, Cutler was around and was agent for some of the largest rock and roll shows in history outside of Woodstock including The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park, the Grateful Dead's Europe '72 tour and the Dead's participation in the Festival Express train tour across Canada.[citation needed] However, the Festival Express was a huge loss for the promoters and Europe ‘72 wasn’t as profitable as promised.


The Altamont Free Concert was planned by the Grateful Dead and included West Coast American bands which included the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Santana, and others.

The Hells Angels were hired as security to protect the generators, as they had done at Grateful Dead shows in the past, on the recommendation of the Grateful Dead, for $500 worth of beer.

In the documentary Gimme Shelter Hells Angels Oakland chapter head Ralph 'Sonny' Barger states that the Hells Angels were not interested in policing the event, and that organizers had told him that he and his fellow Angels would be required to do little more than sit on the edge of the stage and drink beer. Other accounts also state that the initial arrangement was for the Hells Angels to watch over the equipment, but that Cutler later moved them, and their beer, near the stage to placate them or to protect the stage.[citation needed]

Fights broke out from the very arrival of the Hells Angels at the event, i.e. since noon. During the performance by Jefferson Airplane, lead singer Marty Balin was knocked out by a Hells Angel on stage. The Grateful Dead opted not to play after learning of the incident with Balin. By the time the Stones hit the stage, the crowd was especially restless.

While The Rolling Stones were performing "Under My Thumb", Meredith Curly Hunter, Jr. who had been severely beaten by the Hells Angels already[4], attempted to escape from the mob and took out his revolver. Hunter died during the stabbing and thrashing that followed, and the revolver was stolen from him. Hells Angel Alan Passaro was exonerated from murder on grounds of "self-defense". Cutler can be seen whispering to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards onstage, rushing towards the mortally wounded Meredith Hunter and returning to the stage to convince the band to retreat.

The subsequent mess was blamed on The Rolling Stones—although nobody employed by The Rolling Stones was directly involved in organizing the Altamont gig until shortly before it was meant to happen. Sam Cutler arrived on the West Coast to help co-ordinate the event two days before it was staged.

Following the concert, The Rolling Stones left for England, leaving Cutler behind to deal with the aftermath. While his friends, the Stones, promised to "take care of him", Sam never spoke to the Stones again until many years later. He had been left practically penniless and left to deal with the mess on his own.

Cutler was eventually called to testify in court proceedings relating to the matter some time later.

Since that time, Cutler has been somewhat vindicated as various authors have recognized the role of some particularly strong, or possibly tainted LSD circulating at the event, a bad choice of venue, bad staging area design, and the role of Hells Angels prospects, non-patch wearing Hells Angels "wannabes", rather than bona-fide, full-patch wearing Angels themselves, as contributory factors in the bad vibes and violence that consumed the day.[5]

Rock and roll management career[edit]

Following the events at Altamont, Cutler stayed in the U.S. to deal with the aftermath, was befriended by Jerry Garcia, and subsequently hired by the Grateful Dead as their tour manager. He went on to become a co-manager of the band (with Jon McIntire and David Parker) and eventually became their agent and tour manager.

Cutler organized the Dead's appearances at a number of memorable events including: the 1970 Festival Express Tour of Canada, The Summer Jam at Watkins Glen (at 700,000+ paid admission the largest single paid admission events in rock n roll history), and the 1972 European Tour of the Grateful Dead, the musical results of which can be heard on the Dead's triple live album Europe '72.

Through his company, Out of Town Tours, Cutler coordinated the appearances of many artists including: Grateful Dead, The Band, The Allman Brothers, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, The Sons of Champlin, Mike Bloomfield, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and others.

In 2006, Sam collaborated with Melbourne (Australia) indie-rock group Black Cab on the track "Valiant" which appeared on the band's 2006 release Jesus East. In the track, Sam reminisces on his days with the Grateful Dead and preaches advice for the kids of today. Sam is currently on tour around Australia and Asia, promoting his book.


  1. ^ "Brendan L Lyons, "England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008" —".
  2. ^ Gerard Van der Leun (2009). Let It Bleed: The Rolling Stones, Altamont, and the End of the Sixties. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 9780446558334. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  3. ^ Rock Scully & David Dalton (2001). Living with the Dead: Twenty Years on the Bus with Garcia and the Grateful Dead. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 303. ISBN 9780815411635. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  4. ^ "The Rolling Stones at Altamont: What Went Wrong?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  5. ^ Cutler, Sam (2010). You Can't Always Get What You Want. Toronto: ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-55022-932-5.