When The Crusaders became Savage: February - May 1965

By 1965 Screaming Lord Sutch wanted a new direction and his idea was to start a Showband with saxophones in it instead of keyboards. Why did Sutch suddenly want a saxophone-powered line-up? Did he really decide to concentrate on R&B/Soul music or did his management want him to go in a different direction?

According to Moody Blues bass player John Lodge, the Kiel Star Palast’s proprietor Manfred Woittalia had booked Screamin’ Lord Sutch & the Savages however, the locals found these rather too tame for their liking and The John Bull Breed, a very tight Soul/Blues band from Birmingham with a sax-powered line-up, stepped in as replacement for a month-long residence, though they initially had just a one-night booking there.

The remaining member of the Savages, Ronnie Harwood approached Brian Hammick, who was lead guitarist with The Burnt Oak-based Easybeats, to form a new rhythm section. After a few rehearsals at the White House and some odd gigs, they both finally left and went on to join Winston G, becoming the core of The Wicked with drummer Tony McIntyre.
Nevertheless Brian Hammick remembers doing a bit of session work with Screaming Lord Sutch during his spare time about mid '65.

Bass player Arvid Andersen (1) explains the departure of Harwood and Hammick in another way.
According to him, soon after Ritchie Blackmore had joined up Neil Christian & The Crusaders, Screaming Lord Sutch came up with a tour covering the whole of the UK mainland with some double dates included. So Andersen, who was interested, phoned him. Sutch then sacked his existing band as soon as Blackmore told he was available with a shit hot trio.
" As Sutch offered them more money than Neil Christian, The Three Crusaders - Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Arvid Andersen on bass & Jim Evans on drums - became The Three Savages [prior becoming The Three Musketeers]...
The Three ex-Crusaders were augmented by 4 saxophone players including Dick Errington ("Richard Errington III") (2); Noel McManus previously with The Blues By Five (3); and Ashton Tootell who had just finished a year-stint as roadie with the Tornados. It's still unclear who was the fourth player (10).

At the Farnborough Tech on 12 February 1965, these saxophonists also known as "The Four Saxes" were all dressed in football shirts. When Dave Sherrington, saxophone player with support act The Stormsville Shakers, asked him why he didn't give the "The Four Saxes" more than one michrophone, Dave Sutch replied that he liked to see them all "fighting to get near the mike"!
Strangely, according to The other Stormsville Shakers, Ritchie Blackmore wasn't the guitarist on that day but another famous name played instead of him.
From there Screamin’ Lord Sutch became friendly with The Stormsville Shakers, and they collaborated on some projects.
In April 1965, visiting Americans, Larry Williams and his longtime friend Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson toured the UK and, backed by the Stormsville Shakers, they recorded two albums together. The 2nd album "Larry Williams on Stage" was recorded in the presence of a frenzied audience, led by Screamin’ Lord Sutch as cheerleader with football rattle and including Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, on 6 April 1965, at Marquee Studios, London.
Roger Drew, drummer of The Starliners, caught Ritchie Blackmore with the Savages at the California Ballroom, on 13 February 1965: "There was a low overhanging ledge above the stage, and during one breathtaking solo he swung the guitar up and accidentally smashed the end of the neck into the ledge, he did not even flinch or bat an eyelid!"

When the band appeared at Parr Hall, Warrington, on 15 February 1965, supported by The Clayton Squares from Liverpool, they were advertised as "The Screaming Lord Sutch Showband."

They backed Sutch on a single for CBS records including two numbers previously recorded by The Johnny Burnette Trio, "The Train Kept A Rollin’ " and "Honey Hush" (4). Those both numbers predicted heavy metal guitar solos with interesting fuzz box effects, probably first tested on "Get Away" (5). They did a TV show up in Birmingham in May 1965 to promote the record. This spot of TV promotion on Thank Your Lucky Stars was broadcasted on Saturday May 22nd, but The eight piece line-up proved too ambitious and did not last for long (6).

As Arvid Andersen and Ritchie Blackmore said "It was like 2 bands: One half of the band consisted of rock and rollers, the other half were jazz soloists" (7)...

At the time, Arvid Andersen was signed as a solo artiste by Tony Calder and started to record an album with Jimmy Page as producer. Guitar maestros Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton took part of the recording sessions as well as Nicky Hopkins and Carlo Little. Andrew Loog Oldham eventually released the tapes as "Blues Anytime" on his own label Immediate (IMLP 019) (8).

Meanwhile Ritchie Blackmore, worked for producers Derek Lawrence and Joe Meek, recording with the Outlaws - rechristened The Ritchie Blackmore Orchestra (9) - and the new set of Tornados.

From there he released his first "solo" single: "Get Away" b/w "Little Brown Jug" on Oriole label in April 1965. It's still unclear who is playing saxophone on the record. Some claim it to be Liverpool sax player Reg Price (10) but Mick Underwood recalls the two players from The Savages were drafted in for the session (11).

Joe Meek brought Ritchie Blackmore and drummer Mitch Mitchell (later to be one of the members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience) in to assist the Tornados on a few sessions. They both are often rumoured to play on "Early Bird", which featured sax player Roger Warwick and was released in May 1965. As Tornados keyboards player Dave Watts recalls "Mitch Mitchell was a very flamboyant player with rolls and fills but Ritchie Blackmore had little problem adapting to this because he could work round it..." During one of these sessions Joe Meek became so irritated by Mitchell’s flashy drumming that he stormed out of the control room armed with a shotgun and a promise: “If you don’t do it properly I’ll blow your fucking head off."
It's likely that both Mitch Mitchell and Roger Warwick were in the Savages during that period but probably only fleetingly.

Being anxious to repeat the same level of success ‘Telstar’ had achieved, Joe Meek wanted to involve Ritchie Blackmore in a new version of the Tornados. He even offered him his other flat at 224 Holloway Road. In fact, Joe Meek had him there for his own agenda as he worked at Meek's studio every day...
But Blackmore ended up falling out with Meek and then went off to Germany for several weeks in May 1965 (12).

Consequently the Savages carried on without lead guitarist for a while, visiting Paris, France where they performed the main local Rock venues - Golf Drouot" 
and "La Locomotive" Club - in mid June 1965. Dave Sutch was even arrested at Orly Airport in Paris for wearing panther-skin gladiator trunks and a floating green velvet cloak.

Back in England, Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages took part of the “Big Beat Night”, at Dunstable California Ballroom on June 18th, supported by The Prowlers and The Knight Errants.

After two last gigs at Kiel Star Palast, Germany, Andersen and Evans decided to leave and went on to join Blackmore in Hamburg to back Jerry Lee Lewis during a residency at the Star Club towards the end of the year (13).

Indeed Jerry Lee had to find new musicians because guitar player Charles « Redman » Freeman, bass player Herman « Hawk » Hawkins and drummer Robert “Tarp” Tarant were arrested by Texan police after a gig at Grand Prairie Private Function,Texas, on 11 October 1965.

They then formed their own band, The Three Musketeers (14). The original idea was to turn The Musketeers into a 4-piece with black American singer Tony Cavanaugh who'd earlier been drummer with The Jets, The Tony Sheridan Trio and The Beat Brothers. But as Arvid Andersen recalls Cavanaugh just sort of dropped out of sight… They were contracted to play a week at the Star Club in Bochum in January 1966. At the opening night of their residency there, Andersen, who got extremely drunk, allegedly started urinating on the audience and The Musketeers were fired straight. Along with Andersen, Evans and pianist Tony Marsh, Ritchie Blackmore became part of the new line-up of The Neil Christian & The Crusaders, touring from April to July 1966 throughout the UK & Europe.

When the stint with Neil Christian finished, Andersen and Blackmore were recruited by drummer Ian Broad to back Italian singer Rikki Maiocchi for a month’s residency in a club on the Adriatic.

However Ritchie Blackmore and Arvid Andersen retained their links with Jim Evans when they recorded together the final single of Neil Christian & The Crusaders, "My Baby Left Me" b/w "Yakkety Yak" for German label Deutsche Vogue (DV 14744, 1968) in May 1967.


(1) Arvid Andersen aka "Silas Wegg" (or Andy Anderson) has danish roots, and is related to writer Hans Christian Andersen.

He was previously with Neil Christian & The Crusaders before joining the Savages. Tony Calder signed him up as a solo artiste, and Jimmy Page produced the recording sessions of his "unreleased" solo album, in 1965. After a last stint with Neil Christian, he spent many years in Italy as bass player of The Trip from 1966 to 1974 before moving to Switzerland. He now leads the re-constitued Trip since 2009.

(2) Dick Errington aka "Richard Errington III" also played saxophone for Geraldo and on The "Soul Survival" recording project in May 1967.

(3) Noel McManus was born in Hampstead, North London. He joined the London-based Blues by Five that backed Screaming Lord Sutch at Blackpool South Pier while touring with Big Dee Irwin in 1964.

(4) Incidentally "The Train Kept-A-Rollin’" and "Honey Hush" were both recorded by The Johnny Burnette Trio in 1956.

"The Train Kept-A-Rollin’" was written by Tiny Bradshaw, Howard Kay and Lois Mann, who first recorded it in 1951.

2 very widely heard versions were by The Yardbirds who did a first cover recording of the song in 1965 (produced by Sam Phillips at Sun Studios, Memphis, September 1965), and played a reworked version, retitled "Stroll On", in Michaelangelo Antonioni's film classic "Blow Up", in 1966 (Advision Studios, London, September 1966).

Screaming Lord Sutch included "The Train Kept-A-Rollin’" in his set list since the early days, but first recorded it in 1964 as a demo. It was the only recording Geoff Mew made with the Savages. Sutch released a reworked version with a sax-powered line-up. Despite being a punchy rock'n'roller, it failed to make any impression on the charts...

(5) Mick Underwood:

"Ritchie was very taken with a solo on a PJ Proby track [Hold Me]... Ritchie discovered if he used little speakers and trash them and then played the guitar through them... they fuzzed and he could get the sustain."

(6) Arvid Andersen:

"Dick Errington played the sax solo on that record, he was top notch. He would probably have been happier playing with the Graham Bond Organisation... We did the TV show up [in Birmingham]. The only problem was they only had room for a singer and 6 musicians - we were 7 so one of the sax players had to stay behind. Sutch wanted Errington up front of the camera. Sutch wanted him to leap forward so it would be like he was in the lounge of the people watching TV... Dick was not pleased..."

(7) Dave Ling ("Record Collector" #228, August 1998): You have a lot of nice memories of the early days?

Ritchie Blackmore: "Not just good ones of course. The hungry days were mostly nice times but I often played with musicians I hated, too. Some of them were real snobs who only wanted to see the negative sides of playing rock'n'roll. This was really bad when I played with Screaming Lord Sutch And The Savages. One half of the band consisted of rock and rollers, the other half were jazz soloists. They drove me nuts. There were good times though, especially in the Star Club in Hamburg in 1965/66."

(8) see also "British Archive Series - Blues for Collectors Vol. 3" - RCA LSP 4488E

(9) Derek Lawrence reassembled the Blackmore version of The Outlaws in order to tape a few singles for the US market.

As the Outlaws, they provided some backing for a girl trio called the Murmaids, and as The Lancasters, they recorded a cover of Edvard Grieg's "In The Hall Of The Mountain King".

As the Ritchie Blackmore Orchestra, they released "Get Away"/ "Little Brown Jug" on Oriole label (CB 314) in April 1965.

(10) Reg Price (Born in 1933, Liverpool - died in 1984, Honk Kong) played in the Ted Heath Band, Don Lang's Frantic Five, Frankie Vaughan & 'The X Men', and then became the featured sax player with Lord Rockingham's XI and The New Orleans Rockers. In the 60s, he led his own band, The Red Price Combo.

(11) From Ritchie Blackmore "Getaway - Early years" CD Compilation: Also playing on "Getaway" were Nicky Hopkins on piano and Reg Price on sax, both of whom were members of the then-current line-up of Screaming Lord Sutch and The Savages.

(12) The real reasons why Ritchie Blackmore left The Savages in May 1965 are still unclear. This may occure later in the year. Joe Meek indeed offered Ritchie and Margrit Blackmore his other flat at 224 Holloway Road, in which Robb Huxley, who was by then working in the New Line-up of Tornados from January 1966, was living.

(13) Ritchie Blackmore: "Jerry Lee Lewis was interesting. We were supposed to rehearse for a week, then it was five days, then three days, and we were going, "When are we going to rehearse with this guy because we don’t know what we’re doing". The tour was coming up and we hadn’t played one note with him. Finally, on the day of the first show, he strolled in during the afternoon. We were petrified because we’d been told if he didn’t like you, Jerry would just whack you in the face. Luckily he liked me and wanted to bring me back to Memphis where he lived. He’d come over to me and go "Play boy, play". I’d be looking up, waiting for that whack."

(14) Ritchie Blackmore: "They were the first band I actually enjoyed playing in. We were the first three piece: people had never heard of three-piece bands. All the songs we had were really fast and the big thing in Germany in 1965 was that you played music to dance to.

We’d open the show with something called "The Plainsman" followed by "Yakety Sax". In the middle of the act, we’d do our special, a really fast number which was "Flight Of The Bumble Bee". You can imagine the audience watching us. It was great for me but terrible for them. So they used to disappear and our work went downhill. That’s how I ended up back with Sutch again.
He was brilliant, actually. When we were in the key of A, he would sing in C sharp. I don’t know how he did it - it’s very difficult singing in this totally unrelated key to what was being played."

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