Screaming Lord Sutch & The "Best Qualities": 1967 - 1969

Screaming Lord Sutch & The "First" Quality: Summer 1967

By Summer 1967, Dave Sutch was brieftly backed by a trio consisting of Carlo Little, guitarist Ged Peck and another founding member of Deep Purple, bassist Nick Simper. They all three came from Billie Davis' backing-group,The Quality, and then they were hired for playing as the live band for The Flowerpot Men in October 1967.

Upon the demise of the Pirates who had limited appeal without Johnny Kidd, Nick Simper joined brieftly The Gods before being brought by Carlo Little into The Quality, backing Billie Davis from late May 1967.
The trio, managed by Johnny Toogood, originally comprised a South African pianist named Neville who was more suited to playing lounge music. So Neville was replaced with Freddy Mack's guitarist Ged Peck who impressed a lot Simper with his tremendous turn of speed, in Mid June 1967. Billie Davis & The Quality first toured North England, Scotland and then Germany where Carlo Little re-united with ex-Savage Ritchie Blackmore and introduced him to Simper. 

Back in Britain, they played the Northern club circuit and were joined by Hammond organist Arthur Regis who'd earlier been with Mel Turner & The Red Devils and The Arthur Brown Union.
When several months’ work with Billie Davis were suddenly cancelled in July 1967, they switched to Screaming Lord Sutch's backing group, teaming up with Freddy Fingers Lee (1).
When Screaming Lord Sutch came on stage at Clapton-on-Sea Town Hall, on July 1st, he wore a toilet seat round his head and so the stage-staff closed the curtains on his act. All the Savages stopped playing except for Carlo Little, who refused to stop and continued drumming for a considerable time!
On August 5th 1967, in Narberth, Wales, some toughs launched themselves at the band in a crazy sea of flying fists and bottles after Dave Sutch threw a bucket of water over their leader. Arthur Regis stood in for Freddy Fingers Lee during some odd gigs.
By the end of August Billie Davis had secured a few more gigs (3), and so their work was now divided between her and Screaming Lord Sutch until Spencer Davis Management asked them to support a vocal act, named The Flowerpot Men, to promote the Carter-Lewis single "Let's Go To San Francisco" (4).

(1) Nick Simper, Chapter 15 of his own biography: Savages & Flowerpot Men
.... Billie Davis’ situation took a turn for the worse, with the cancellation of several months’ work... panic gripped Carlo, Ged, Arthur and myself, as we realised that our regular earnings had come to a halt! Carlo immediately rushed out to find his old boss David Sutch, who promptly engaged three of us to work as his group, the Savages. Arthur, however, was not included, as Sutch was using his famous one-eyed pianist, Freddy Fingers Lee.
There was little doubt that Sutch’s act had suffered recently, mainly due to the fact that he was unwilling to pay for good musicians, often recruiting the cheapest available, but he always relished the chance to use Carlo Little, knowing that he added class to the show. And so I found myself a “Savage”, working alongside Carlo as he played in that heavy style which always made him stand out. Freddy ‘Fingers’ Lee was also of legendary status, and with Ged Peck’s virtuosity we really could not fail!

The difference with Dave was that you had to brave fire, water and assorted weaponry whilst playing with the panache demanded by Carlo, who was also band leader and choreographer! The highlight for me was seeing Freddy Fingers Lee cartwheel across the stage, landing with his head on a cushion strategically place on the keyboard of the piano, whilst Sutch, standing on top of the piano would grab Fred’s ankles, holding him in hand-stand position. Fred would then play an amazing solo, Arguably playing better upside down than most pianists could achieve the right way up! Usually he would screw a car wing mirror onto the piano, thus allowing him to see the rest of the band with his one good eye. He also had a disconcerting habit of removing his glass eye band resting it on your shoulder, usually accompanied by the phrase “I’ve got my eye on you!”

One memorable night, August 5th 1967, saw us playing in Narberth, Wales. The ball room was packed to capacity with a lively crowd, and as usual most of the girls were frightened to death by the spectacle of Dave Sutch doing his stuff. A handful of toughs stood at the front, led by a large bloke wearing a light blue suit, who seemed intent on causing trouble. He attempted to hold on to Dave’s microphone cable whenever possible, which limited Sutch’s stage movements. I could sense Dave getting annoyed. The moment arrived during our version of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls Of Fire” when Sutch set fire to a container of newspaper and petrol, resulting in flames four or five feet high... Sutch then ran across, ringing his big brass fire bell, carrying a 2 gallon fireman’s bucket of water to extinguish the flames with. The sight of the leering yobbo was too much for Sutch, however, and, instead of putting out the flames, he gave the bloke the 2 full gallons right in the fact! Retaliation followed in the form of the tough guy’s pals launching themselves at the band in a crazy sea of flying fists and bottles. Under this onslaught the Savages retreated, whilst I wondered if we would survive! Suddenly the voice of Screaming Lord Sutch boomed over the P.A. system announcing that the police were in the building. Like magic, our attackers ran for the exit. Of course, there were no police, but Dave’s presence of mind had saved us from almost certain injury!

(2) Ged Peck
"Sometimes, Sutch would suddenly run across the stage with a axe whilst the support band were playing. We had no rehearsals at all and although we knew the numbers he would play, we didn’t know what to do in his stage act. Carlo would play the drums and then shout instructions to us…”do this”…”do that”…”run this way”…”move to the right”…get ready to duck the axe”…etc. Sutch would be chasing you around stage while you still tried to play.
The photo is of Sutch setting fire to the stage. The band that night was me, Nick, Carlo, and Freddie ‘Fingers’ Lee, who used to take his false glass eye out and place it on top of the piano!"
"The last gig I did for Sutch was somewhere in Central London... The thing about Dave Sutch was that he wouldn't pay you much money, therefore, anyone who could really play would not work for him and he had to hire some pretty average guys."

(3) On September 10th 1967, Billie Davis and the Quality began a week long engagement at Manchester’s Embassy Club, which was owned by Bernard Manning, the famous television performer

(4) The Flowerpot Men was a studio concept created by the duo Carter-Lewis, who recorded and released "Let's Go To San Francisco" in August 1967. As it became a huge hit in Britain, reaching number 4, a touring band was quickly assembled Their Garden. While on tour, the original keyboard player, Billy Davidson caught the flue, and thus Simper's old mate Jon Lord was brought in for the remainder of the tour.
Both Simper and Lord left in early 1968 to join Roundabout which transformed itself into Deep Purple.

Read the Chapter 15 of Nick Simper's biography: Savages & Flowerpot Men
Photos courtesy Ged Peck

Screaming Lord Sutch & The "Second" Quality: Late 1967

Upon the demise of The Wheels, lead guitarist Herbie Armstrong and bass player Rod Demick joined Sutch's new band "The Beautiful Quality" in September 1967. Alongside drummer Spud Davies, they toured Holland and Germany as well as the UK for about six months. Herbie Armstrong remembers he was still playing his old 1958 Stratocaster as shows the above picture taken at Amsterdam Centrum 2000, Netherlands, on 17 November 1967.
They worked with Screaming Lord Sutch until January 1968, when his Lordship decided to travel overseas with his Rolls Royce but without his musicians.

From there Herbie Armstrong and Rod Demick began writing songs together, releasing a couple of singles for Page One records, as the James Brothers - "I Forgot to Give You Love" b/w "The Truth About It" and "Does It Have To Be Me" b/w "You Don't Really Love Me" - before forming "Demick & Armstrong" with Gordon Smith on guitar, David Watkins on keyboards, and Henry Spinetti on drums.

     Herbie Armstrong:
"I joined Sutch's band "The Beautiful Quality" around 1967...
We toured Holland & Germany as well as the UK... That was while I was still playing my old 1958 Stratocaster! From there I went on to form Demick & Armstrong..."
Check out his official website <

Screaming Lord Sutch & The Beautiful Quality Touring USA: Early 1968 - Late 1969

At the beginning of 1968, Screaming Lord Sutch decided to leave Britain and spent the rest of the decade in America. He travelled there with his 1955 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith which was painted in a Union Jack design and incorporated leopard skin print seat covers. He would spend nearly 2 years there: First gigs at The Scene, The Cheetah, The Hullababaloo (Clubs in New-York, New England), appearing on various TV shows: Johnny Carson, Dick Clarke & Merv Griffin (early february 68, $265 for a one-hour appearance).

During this couple of years Dave Sutch was backed up by a New Jersey based group rechristened "The Beautiful Quality", including Ron Kellerman and Hal Hollander on guitar, who had previously been drummer for the Paul Butterfield Blues and the James Cotton Blues Band. Incidentally Hollander later worked with another luminary from New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen who had supported Screaming Lord Sutch & The Beautiful Quality at the Freehold Hullabaloo whilst being guitarist of The Castiles, on June 6th, 1968.

Dave Sutch confesses to his friend Ronnie Long that he did not like the American musicians that backed him because he could not get them to move on the stage.

By August 1968, Screaming Lord Sutch met Elvis Presley at the International Hotel Performance in Las Vegas, Nevada. With his name of Lord David Sutch he managed to convince the organizers that he was the British Ambassador for Rock 'n' Roll and was issued press tickets for the concert. Dave Sutch now lived in Los Angeles, California.

On 24 August 1968, his involvement with the backing Britain’ Campaign saw a personal appearance at Capwell’s New Have-A-ashery Teen Shop in Oakland, California. 

    Late October 1968, Sutch and Kellerman were in New York to see Led Zeppelin who were touring America too.
2 weeks later, on 10 November 1968 - the day of his 28th birthday - Dave Sutch started to write several of the tracks which would appear on his debut album. He then enlisted guitarist Jimmy Page to help with his project. However the recording sessions only held from 24 April 1969 to 5 May 1969, at the Mystic Sound Studio in Los Angeles, California. Somehow, Page found the time between Led Zeppelin sessions (to complete Led Zeppelin II) at Mirror Sound, LA, to do just that, and he enlisted drummer John Bonham and bassist Daniel Edwards to bang along (1). They played on 6 numbers including "Baby Come Back", which was a transposed remake of Roy Head's "Treat Her Right." Page also enlisted 3 members of the Californian band "Fat": guitarist Kent "Henry" Plischke, drummer Bob "Crusher" Metke, and bass player Martin Kohl, who were managed by Buck Munger of Jason Ltd. in Hollywood (2). Also participating in the recording sessions were Noel Redding, between his very last jobs with The Jimi Hendrix Experience (3), and Jeff Beck playing with 3 former members of the Savages: keyboardist Nicky Hopkins, drummer Carlo Little and bassist Rick Brown. In fact most of the recorded songs during this jam session were remakes. Jimmy Page and others accepted to play on these sessions with the promise of not to credit their names...

Shortly after the end of the recording sessions, Screaming Lord Sutch took part of the Rock’n’Roll Revival Peace Festival at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium with The Doors, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band, on 13 September 1969.
While in America Dave Sutch stated that Alice Cooper used to come and watch him play, and stole his act.

"Lord Sutch & Heavy Friends" was first released in America in February 1970, where it sold 70,000 copies in one month.
The sleeve shows Dave Sutch posing on his Union Jack painted Rolls Royce drivin'.

After the U.K. release in May 1970, Jimmy Page said that he'd been duped as to exactly what the album would be like. Five of the 12 songs were credited to himself, not only credited as composer, also as a producer, but Page insisted that he wasn't involved in any songwriting.

The album "Lord Sutch & Heavy Friends" was named in a 1998 BBC poll as the worst album of all time, a status it also held in Colin Larkin's book The Top 1000 Albums of All Time.

(1) Jimmy Page, John Bonham and Dan Edwards played on "Wailing Sounds", "Cause I Love You", "Flashing Lights", "Union Jack Car" and "Baby, Come Back". Strangely, John Paul Jones, who played bass on the track "The Cheat" along with Jimmy Page, in 1966, didn't take part of these sessions.    

(2) Kent Henry Plischke, Bob Metke, and Martin Kohl played on "Smoke & Fire", "One for You, Baby", and "L-O-N-D-O-N".
They were managed by Buck Munger, who was the S. California agent for Sunn music amplifiers, made in Oregon. Munger used Kent Henry as a promotional guitar demonstrator for Sunn amplifiers and the latter gained much notoriety for maximum sound level guitar tests with the amps at full volume and distortion. Thus Munger allowed Henry to make guitar recordings with other bands he was managing and then introduced him to Jimmy Page. Kent Henry later joined Blues Image ("Ride Captain Ride") and various versions of Steppenwolf in the 1970's...

(3) Noel Redding:
"Marshall Brevitt opened a club called The Experience on Sunset Strip, Los Angeles...We were encouraged to jam with Led Zeppelin and The McCoys...waiting it out in LA for the Denver concert to come round... I hung about killing time. Dave Sutch pulled the 2 Lord Sutch & his "Heavy Friends LPs together by hiring Jimmy Page, John Bonham, Jeff Beck, Nicky Hopkins and myself for some sessions"

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