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Tom Wright Photographic Archive - page 1

Joseph E. Kruppa, Professor of English, University of Texas at Austin

In the early 1960s, Tom Wright, a native of Alabama, traveled to England to study photography at the Ealing Art School. There he met Pete Townshend, a painting student. Townshend, a very shy person in those days, later recalled that Wright was the first person who spoke to him at school. The two soon became close friends, and Wright shared his extensive collection of American blues, jazz, and rhythm and blues recordings with Townshend.  When Wright left England, he gave Townshend his record collection; Townshend later observed that the music in Wright’s collection greatly influenced his development as a musician and composer.

Despite their separation, Wright and Townshend stayed in touch, and when Townshend’s band, The Who, came to the United States in 1967, Wright joined the tour as photographer and road

manager. Wright recalls that on tour he "fixed the hotel bathrooms up to function as [wet lab] darkrooms. Townshend would want to get involved, screw with the enlarger and blow things up. 

He would like to fiddle around with the equipment. It was fun for everybody. The photograph was only 45 minutes old. Someone would ask, ‘Well did you get a shot of when Pete busted the cop over the head with the guitar?’ ‘Well, sure.’ ‘Well let’s see it. Let’s blow it up six feet high.’"

From 1967 until The Who’s Twenty-fifth Anniversary Tour in 1989, Wright traveled with the group whenever it played in the United States.  Wright also managed the Grande Ballroom in Detroit from 1967 to 1969. It was at the Grande

Dr. Don Carleton

View Video  "A few people have asked me why an American history research center would establish an archival collection of rock and roll photographs." Dr. Don Carleton, Executive Director, Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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