Tom Wright, whose wide career embraced photography of many rock greats and time spent as a tour manager for The Who and other major acts, has died. He was 78 and details on where and the cause were not immediately available.
Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center for American History, remembered Wright in a statement posted to the organization’s website. Wright named the University of Texas center as the repository for his archive of more than 120,000 photographs and thousands of rock music tape and phonographic recordings.
Wright’s “compelling and intimate photographs of performers, audiences, and concert venues provide a true insider’s perspective into the history of rock music from the 1960s to the 1990s,” the statement said.
“He skillfully used his camera to document the lives and work of some of the most influential rock bands, including the Rolling Stones; Rod Stewart and Faces; Joe Walsh’s first band, The James Gang; the Eagles, and most especially, Pete Townshend and The Who,” said Carleton. “His work was greatly enhanced by his close friendships with members of the bands with which he traveled and covered. Those relationships gave Tom an intimate, off-stage access that allowed him to photograph those artists as they prepared for their concerts and as they traveled on tour. I’m deeply saddened by his passing him.”
Wright studied photography at England’s Ealing Art School in the early 1960s. He met fellow student Pete Townshend, founder of The Who, and they bonded over an enthusiasm for American blues greats. Wright became The Who’s official photographer in 1967.
“One thing is certain, had I not met Tom Wright, The Who would never have become successful,” Townshend said. “We would have remained a solid little pop band doing what hundreds of others were doing around the same time.”
Wright went on to tour with, manage, and photograph 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 Roadwork: Rock and Roll Turned Inside Outa chronicle of his photogaphs and road stories.
No information on survivors or memorial plans was immediately available.