Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chris Stamp: from rock and roll to role play and addictions

Christopher Stamp 

Chris Stamp, the star-making co-manager of The Who – who became a psychotherapist and brought psychodrama and experiential therapy to many organizations that served the addicted and the homeless – died of cancer on Nov. 24 in New York City at the age of 70. 

Never far from theater, he began his career as a young man as a prop handler in his hometown of London. He co-discovered the rock band The Who in 1963 and created Track Records, the first independent record label in England. He later served as executive producer of Ken Russell's 1975 film adaptation of The Who's rock  opera "Tommy." 

Chris went to rehab for serious drug and alcohol problems in 1987 and later returned to school, obtaining credentials as a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) and a credentialed alcohol and substance abuse counselor (CASAC) and a certified experiential therapist (CET).

He worked in the addictions field since 1995. I met Chris when I worked at the Caron Treatment Centers in Pennsylvania and he was associated with Caron's New York City office. I imagine that he must have brought the same considerable energy, talent and creativity to treatment that he had brought to the music business, initiating and innovating experiential groups at Gracie Square Hospital and at Arms Acres and  work with the homeless population for two years at the Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter.

He worked for a decade as a consultant at the Freedom Institute in New York, bringing psychodrama to expand its addiction treatment programs. He maintained a private practice in New York and East Hampton, Long Island -- where he became a kind of guru to many recovering alcoholics and addicts -- with his wife Calixte Stamp, a certified experiential psychotherapist.

He was active in the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama as a member of its executive council and its international committee.

In addition to pursuing training in psychodrama, he became a certified auricular acupuncturist and a Reiki Master. At the time of his death, he had been the subject of a documentary film titled “The Stamp and Lambert Story,” based on his business relationship with drug-using Kit Lambert, who died of a brain hemorrhage in 1981; he was reportedly  writing his autobiography.

Pete Townshend remembered Stamp with a touching essay on The Who's web site, calling him "loved and respected" by hundreds of people who he met in his work as a counselor. News of his death has appeared around the world, including Rolling Stone and The New York Times, no doubt introducing many more readers to the presence of psychodrama and experiential therapies.

His  funeral service is scheduled on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at Old Whaler's Church, Sag Harbor, N.Y.