The full-time professional Savages, Touring & Recording: May - September 1961

Dave Sutch eventually came to Douggie Dee & The Strangers, a local Harrow based semi-professional group - in which Carlo Little was drumming for nearly a year, and Pete Newman was on Tenor Saxophone for 5 months - and proposed them to be his new backing band. The Strangers did do only a few gigs where they played the main show and Sutch came on as the star turn, but it was only Little and bass player Ken Payne who accepted to give up their jobs and tour with him. So Sutch and the 2 remaining Strangers put up an ad in the Melody Maker in order to recruit other musicians.

They auditionned 8 guitarists, among them Rodger Mingay and a very young Ritchie Blackmore, only 17, who both had previously been part of a Chiswick-based skiffle group called The Vampires at various times.

Mingay, who had not only been lead guitarist with semi-professional groups The Skyways, alongside future bassist of The Searchers Frank Allen and sax player Rupert Claher (later with Mel Turner's Red Devils), and The Satellites for several months, but also stood in for Cliff Bennet & The Rebel Rousers, was deemed more experienced and got the job. He remembers very well his first gig with Sutch & his Savages - at Wisbech Corn Exchange, on Whit-Monday in May 1961 - because his very old car caught on fire after the show and had to be towed back to London. That night, they shared the bill with Keith Kelly, and Nicky Hopkins was briefly back on piano, billed as "Freddie Fingers Lee, The wizard Rock'n'Roll Vocalist-Pianist".  In fact on the posters advertising the gig, all the members of the band had a nickname: Carlo Little was billed as "Slasher", Ken Payne as "Hopping Ken Rupert Payne", and Rodger Mingay as "Scratch & Scrape Bailey, the Top Pop Guitarist" because their manager Tom Littlewood couldn't remember their real names. A more oriented blues piano player Andy Wren eventually replaced Hopkins the following day, in Wealdstone, where they supported Cliff Bennet & The Rebel Rousers.
Dave Sutch started coming on stage in a coffin as Screamin' Jay Hawkins did, sword fencing, and using a toilet seat around his neck with this set of Savages. They first used to wear orange shirts, white cowboy boots and black pants as the band uniform and then the animal skins, reminiscent of Wee Willy Harris when he was performing Neil Sedaka's "I Go Ape" at The 2 I's and television dressed as a caveman. Sutch would stab the hapless pianist before flinging heart and liver (bought from the butchers) into the audience.
They became full-time professional and played all over the country, then toured Scotland from June 5th to 16th, 1961. As Rodger Mingay remembers "that was when Dave got arrested for firing a starting pistol - then Carlo accidently fired it again in the police station the next morning." Screaming Lord Sutch also made the front pages there for eloping with a 16-year-old  inspiring the original "Would You Let This Boy Marry Your Daughter?" This was a "story" set up by the agent: the girl that he "eloped" with was actually Ken Payne's sister.

This line-up also cut the Joe meek-produced first single "Till The Following Night" b/w "Good Golly Miss Molly" (HMV POP 953) with the remaining Midnighter Pete Newman on Tenor Saxophone (1), and which was released only in late 1961, several months after the band had split up!

In fact, Joe Meek spotted Screaming Lord Sutch, enjoying his "wild stage show", whilst the latter went in a 2I’s package tour with Adam Faith and Joe Brown, across the Country. Consequently Sutch had signed a 5-year contract with Joe Meek’s RGM Sound recording Organisation and then they started to put together and record this "original" number first untitled “My Big Black Coffin”.
Initially lined up for Halloween 1961, the record introduces us to the frightening world of Screaming Lord Sutch with creaking coffins and doors, with howls and screams echoing into infinity. Joe Meek actually borrowed this atmospheric Sound effects from “Night Of The Vampire” a track he had recorded earlier with the Moontrekkers.

During its recording, Ken Payne used his brand new bass rig - a valve amp with a tuned cabinet, with a 15" speaker.
Rodger Mingay didn't use any sound effect on the guitar - it was a gibson Les Paul Junior plugged straight into Joe Meek's mixer (2)
Carlo Little was wondering what would the band get out of it but Dave Sutch was pretty non-committal about it and trusted in Meek's skill. This sound magician knew exactly in which style he would evolve with Sutch.

According to Pete Newman, "Good Golly Miss Molly" was recorded later by another line-up hence the delay for its release (1).
Unfortunately the single failed to chart but its ban on the BBC got the publicity that Sutch was looking for.


(1) Pete Newman:
"I met Joe Meek through an advert I saw in the Melody Maker asking for bands to record at his studios in Holloway, North London in early 1961. I only did the one session with Dave Sutch to do "Till the following night" and "Good golly miss Molly"....
If you listen to "Good golly miss Molly", you will note that in the short time that records were made then there were a sax solo by me, a guitar solo by Bernie Watson, a piano solo by Nicki Hopkins and a drum solo by Carlo Little. Many years after that record was made because it was played at a high speed many other musicians would not believe the record was made and said it must have been a trick recording but in fact the count in was to fast and we all had to go along with the speed we started with Joe Meek loved it and that take was the one you hear now..."

(2) Rodger Mingay remembers: "Dave standing in the middle of the room with a whole bunch of old chains and a biscuit tin and screaming while Joe recorded it - to get that effect at the beginning of the track"

Read more about the full-time professional Savages in the Confessions of the Sixties Drummer Carlo Little

1 comment:

  1. Does anyone have contact details for ANDY WREN. Thanks, Tony

    Tony Freer
    Woodstock, Ontario