Tom Wright, whose extensive career spanned the photography of many rock greats and time spent as tour manager for The Who and other major bands, has died. He was 78 and details of the location and cause were not immediately available.
Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center for American History, remembered Wright in a statement posted on the organization’s website. Wright appointed the University of Texas Center as a repository for his archive of over 120,000 photographs and thousands of rock music tapes and phonograph recordings.
Wright’s “compelling and intimate photographs of performers, audiences and concert halls provide a true insider’s perspective on the history of rock music from the 1960s to the 1990s,” the statement read.
“He skillfully used his camera to document the life and work of some of rock’s most influential bands, including the Rolling Stones; Rod Stewart and Faces; Joe Walsh’s first band, The James Gang; the Eagles, and specifically Pete Townshend and The Who,” Carleton said. “His work was greatly enhanced by his close friendships with members of the bands he traveled and covered with. These relationships gave Tom intimate off-stage access that allowed him to photograph these performers as they prepared for their their concerts and traveling on tour. I am deeply saddened by his passing.”
Wright studied photography at the Ealing Art School in England in the early 1960s. He met fellow student Pete Townshend, founder of The Who, and they bonded over an enthusiasm for the big names in American blues. Wright became the Who’s official photographer in 1967.
“One thing is certain, if I hadn’t met Tom Wright, The Who would never have been successful,” Townshend said. “We would have remained a solid little pop band doing what hundreds of others were doing around the same time.”
Wright then toured with, managed and photographed musicians and the reality of life on the road. His insight led guitarist Joe Walsh to call Wright “the Jack Kerouac of rock and roll photography”.
In 2007 Wright published Road works: rock and roll upside downchronicle of his photographs and road stories.
No information on survivors or memorial plans was immediately available.