Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead Tour Manager Sam Cutler Dead at 80
Cutler's children, Bodhi and Chesley Cutler, shared the news in a statement on his Facebook page. "Sam Cutler, our father, your friend, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday, July 11, at age 80," they wrote. "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.
"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 [than] for his friends to continue to form timeless memories with whomever they meet, and to share those memories with him in the next life."
Born on March 10, 1943, in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England, Cutler worked as a stage manager and master of ceremonies for several U.K. and European gigs throughout the '60s, crossing paths with the likes of Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. He became the Stones' road manager for their 1969 U.S. tour, which ended with the disastrous Altamont Speedway Free Festival that resulted in the murder of 18-year-old Meredith Hunter and three other accidental deaths.
Following the Altamont debacle, Cutler stayed in California while the Stones returned to Europe. He became close with Jerry Garcia and began working for the Grateful Dead as their tour manager and eventual co-manager. Cutler helped the Dead reinvent themselves into a primarily touring entity, and the band watched its fortunes blossom as a result.
Cutler eventually retired from the touring industry and decamped to Australia, where he enjoyed a quiet, nomadic lifestyle. He detailed his misadventures in his 2008 memoir You Can't Always Get What You Want.
"My career as a tour manager, as it were, didn't last that long. I was involved for maybe 10, 15 years," Cutler told Please Kill Me in 2022. "But at the end of working with the Grateful Dead, I was talking to myself like, 'Well, what do you want to do?' I certainly didn't want to help other people realize their fantasies yet again."
He gleaned plenty of wisdom from his illustrious career. "We learned some valuable lessons, not least of which is: provide a stage that's the right fucking height so people can't get on it," he said. "That's the major lesson of Altamont."