Lord Caesar Sutch' & The Roman Empire: December 1966 - May 1967 after J.C.

Touring Germany, France, Sweden:  September - October 1966

Tony Dangerfield, who took over from John Lawson, stayed on with Carlo Little and brought into the Savages his mate from The Travellers and The Thrills, guitarist Johnny Bedder. After The Thrills folded, Bedder sessioned for Joe Meek for about a year, then toured with the Winstone G Set and then joined Jimmy James & The Vagabonds while Dangerfield returned to Birmingham where he fronted various bands. Among accompanying musicians were Mike Kellie, Martin Barre, Bev Bevan, Richard Tandy, John Bonham and Jeff Lynne - with whom he cut a single for Polydor: “Evening Blue”/”Times Are getting tougher than tough” which remained unreleased. They were joined by former Crusader Tony Marsh and returning Peter Green.

On saturday 8th October 1966, Screaming Lord Sutch and his Savages were touring Germany and Dave Sutch popped out to get a copy of the previous day's Evening Standard newspaper. He returned to base, deeply shocked at having just read that Johnny Kidd had died in a car-crash, and the rest of his band just wasn't able to take it in either.

On route back from Italy, on October 28th, they took part of a "British Gala" at Villeurbane Palais d'hiver, near Lyons, France, along with The Who and The Stormsville Shakers. Phillip Goodhand-Tait recalls that Keith Moon threw a bucket of water over Carlo Little, and Dave Sutch was taking a rescued kitten from the Colosseum back to England in his Transit van (1).

They then did a months tour of Sweden from late October 1966. Peter Green remembers that Carlo Little drove the group van during that tour. He particurlarly remembers the local accommodation: they spent the night in a Swedish police station after a gig (2)...
Tony Marsh eventually left and stayed there. He later formed Freedom with two ex-Procol Harum members, Ray Royer and Bobby Harrison in the late summer of 1967.

Read more about Tony Dangerfield

(1) Phillip Goodhand-Tait: "We met Sutch "on the road" in France and he was returning from Italy... and he told us how he'd "rescued a kitten" from the many strays breeding below The Colosseum in Rome. He was taking it back to England in his van... For the Lyons gig with the Who, Sutch and ourselves were booked into the same hotel... After the Lyons gig, we left the hotel early (4am). The Hotel was to have been paid for by the Lyons promoter.
Six month's later we ran into Sutch "on the road" and he berated us for leaving Lyons without paying for the hotel! Evidently Sutch had to pay our bill as well as his own however he later retreived the hotel money from the promoter."

(2) Peter Green: "I had the pleasure of playing Tenor sax with the Savages... on a months tour of Sweden... Tony Dangerfield was also in the band (according to Tony that would make me a real savage)! we also spent the night in a Swedish police station when we couldn't find anywhere to stay, and the police let us stay the night in some pretty comfotable cells...they even gave us breakfast !..."

Lord Caesar Sutch' & The Roman Empire:  December 1966 - May 1967 after J.C.

After his last recording sessions with Joe Meek in November (1), Ritchie Blackmore rejoined The Savages for a 3rd stint, initially as additional guitarist playing alongside their then current guitar player John Bedder, after their successful Scandinavian tour (2).

By December, new line-up of Carlo Little, Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Dangerfield along with organist Matthew Fisher, who had just been elbowed from the Downliner Sect, and American saxophonist Joel James from The League Of Gentlemen, underwent a name and image change to Lord Caesar Sutch & the Roman Empire (3). They were required to dress as Roman Gladiators for publicity during this cold winter 1966/67 (4).

The first gig they did - in Fulham, London  - was a benefit for the wife of the late Johnny Kidd. They then played at Dunfermline Kinema Ballroom, Scotland, on December 5th, 1966.
Robert Stigwood agency put them on to support Cream. They actually supported Clapton, Bruce and Baker only at Sussex University, Brighton on December 15th 1966.  As Tony Dangerfield recalled “Ritchie had pulled out all the stops out and we got thrown off the next gigs with Cream” . 

They went back to Sweden in January 1967, touring for 10 days. As Carlo Little remembers "It was thick snow... We were driven around in a big American 4-wheel drive with a little trailer for the equipment to go in towed behind. The promoter had sent a roadie to drive it. It had snow chains on the wheels, that's how deep the snow was. We went down well with the crowds, who were really excited. We met and talked to the 'Hep Stars' in one of the dressing rooms, who later turned out to be members of Abba."

From 14 January to 3 February 1967, they toured Germany promoting “Purple People Eater” that had gone in the local charts (5). They started to play at the Jaguar Club, Scala Herford, supported by The Rainbows. They then had a residency at Kiel Star Palast with The Xceptions. The last night, Dave Sutch paid Ritchie Blackmore short because he had lost an AA book about 6 months ago. They arrived back to London the day after Joe Meek had died.

Though he had recorded 'Whiter Shade Of Pale' with Procol Harum during his spell here, Matthew Fisher actually stayed with the Sutch's Empire for financial security until the record took off.

Sutch’s continuing desire for ridiculous group images was losing favour with Carlo Little, Ritchie Blackmore and Tony Dangerfield who finally defected to Neil Christian in April. Christian indeed got them together to do a short tour of Germany where he had a record out: “Two At A Time” (Strike JH 319) which became his biggest German hit. They were doing some shows and live TV in Berlin, opening a club for teenagers there. After an argument over a slice of bread between Carlo Little and Tony Dangerfield in a restaurant, in Hamburg, the band broke up. Blackmore and Dangerfield then decided to stay in Hamburg for a few more weeks of carousing at the Star Club and the Top 10 Club. About 3 or 4 weeks later, they finally flew back to London and lost in touch. Indeed Ritchie Blackmore returned to Hamburg, living with an exotic dancer and top stripper called Bärbel Hardie he had met in the Blockhütte (6). This was when the idea for Deep Purple came about, first with Mandrake Root (7) ...


(1) On 11th November, 1966, Ritchie Blackmore recorded 3 Glenda Collins tracks for which he was paid a session fee of £9.00. He then played on “No More You And Me” for the New Tornados first vocal A-side. But as Joe Meek was still clutching at the possibilty that Blackmore might become a part of the band, the latter went away...

Robert Huxley (guitarist the New Tornados from 1965 to 1967)
"Joe turned to us and said "It's gonna be a double A side" "Theme from Lawrence of Arabia with No More You and Me". We made arrangements to meet the following day to put on the vocals and as we were all filing out of the studio Joe stopped us at the door at the top of the stairs and said "I'm going to ask Richie Blackmore to play on your record.
Roger said he thought Ritchie was a decent bloke but was most impressed with the fuzz box that he used. Ritchie listened to the track as Joe set up the mikes for the girls and with a few suggestions from Joe came up with a nice line. Ritchie completed his part in about an hour. The Twins put on their back ups together with Ritchie and may have possibly double tracked them after Ritchie left..."
"Ritchie’s session with us… late in ’66 when we put down the backing track… I put the vocals on before Ritchie did his part and by the way, the Diamond twins, Sonia and Sandra had put down backing vocals at the same time as Ritchie put down the guitar parts… Joe would like to get a mad guitarist for the New Tornados… but Ritchie had higher aspirations and probably wasn’t interested…" 

(2) Tony Dangerfield
“We’d just come back from Sweden... Then Ritchie joined the band and Johnny [Bedder] really admired him - he was so in awe that he left! But that was the first gig I did with [Blackmore].”

(3) Tony Dangerfield
“We had this photo shoot, Marble Arch in December… Roman Empire clothes, togas and stuff…there’s a Christmas shopping going on… it stopped the traffic in Oxford St… we used to do an opening set and we didn’t break the set like we did in The Savages... we did about 20 minutes before Sutch came on.”

(4) Nick Simper :
"Screaming Lord Sutch was about to go on stage with his new outfit The Holy Roman Empire, with Dave dubbing himself Screaming Lord Caesar Sutch! I had recently witnessed this new act at Johnny Kidd’s tribute night, held shortly after his death.
The players were drummer Carlo Little and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, a U.S. saxophone player called Joel, Tony Dangerfield on bass and Matthew Fisher on piano. The trademark leopard skin loin cloths usually worn by the band were now replaced by Roman soldier’s garb, with Sutch himself resplendent in a Centurion’s outfit, complete with breastplate! Dave Sutch thought it would be a splendid spectacle for the audience to witness a sword fight between him and myself, in Pirate dress. My cue was to enter stage left, and attack ‘Caesar’ just as he ignited the tin of petrol-soaked newspaper which was the highlight of his version of the Jerry Lee Lewis classic, ‘Great Balls of Fire’. Sutch had provided me with a very piratical sabre which I brandished with gusto, right on cue. Sutch came close to decapitating me with the largest two-handed sword! The audience roared their approval as the fire blazed, whilst Sutch chased me around the stage, accompanied by a blistering Ritchie Blackmore solo. Finally I was forced to leg it for the safety of the dressing room before a demented Sutch could accidentally cause me serious harm!

The Kelvin Hall was one of Scotland’s landmark concert halls. On the 24th, 25th and 27th of march we were to share the bill with several big acts, including Unit 4+2, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, Screaming Lord Sutch, and, The Mack Sound. Face to face with Solly, of course, the insults flew, but Dave Sutch intervened as peace-maker, and we soon ended up as pals once more."

(5) Tony Dangerfield
“We went back to Germany first and that was eventful. That was where Ritchie and I gelled because it became commonplace… always together… Over there we had the big limo, the business...” We didn’t want to do any more backing work…

(6) As Tony Dangerfield Bärbel Hardie had very big tits.

(7) Ritchie Blackmore started putting a band together with drummer Ricky Munro (of Rite Tyme from Dundee) he had met at the Star Club. They then recruited a German bass player Kurt Lungen and keyboardist Graham Waller, who had previously been in The Crusaders...

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