I’m so annoyed that I didn’t try harder to reconnect with my old friend Robert Stigwood before he died. We always had such fun together and he was a grand supporter of The Who and me in particular. He was one of the few men I met who openly confessed to finding me attractive and I was grateful he had the courage to tell me.

His more practical work with and for The Who started in 1966 when we needed a shelter label to release ‘SUBSTITUTE’ while fighting a court case against Shel Talmy. Robert’s new label Reaction was probably the first real independent UK label coming before our own Track and providing a model.

Later he produced the movie of TOMMY and he and I had spoken recently about a possible remake, maybe using animation.

There is no question the Bee Gees were his master stroke, a complex band of brothers each immensely talented in his own way. But Robert’s work as a stage and film producer was what made him unique in the modern music business. He could make decisions quickly and his instincts were so often dead right. A natural producer with a real sense of what the wider public would most enjoy. He had no time for snobbery.

He was also a yachtsman in a style as grand as Onassis or Niarchos, living on board his stunning classic motor yacht for many years, and irritating the tax men around the world as a result.

I’ll always remember him as Stiggy. Funny, sometimes tipsy, always sharp and really unashamedly and joyfully gay. I won’t miss him too much because I’ve been missing him since I last spoke to him about eight years ago. Take my advice: don’t leave it too long to reconnect with cherished old friends. Butt into their lives and be annoying. I wish now I’d tried harder.

Bon Voyage Stiggy.

– Pete Townshend, 5 January 2016