Who were The Original Savages???: February - November 1960

Building a rock horror act, inspired by black bluesman Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and now wearing 18 inch long hair, David Sutch renamed himself with the stage name "Screaming Lord Sutch" 3rd Earl of Harrow, though he had no connection with the peerage.
There are variations on the derivation of Screaming Lord Sutch’s title and about the roots of the band name "Savages". According to Carlo Little, founder member of the Savages "Sutch got his name because he used to run up and down the Underground trains screaming. When he and his mates used to go out on Saturday night in the late Fifties, he used to be the life and soul of the party, and he always had on his top hat, which made him look a bit like a lord, by a stretch of the imagination."
But sax player Pete Newman, who was there at the genesis of what became The Savages, recalled his sister Pat telling him, “All You can do is scream, Dave: how about calling yourself Screaming Sutch?” Later he turned up at rehearsal with a top hat our baritone sax player Jeff Wickens said, “Hey, Dave, you look like a lord” (1).

However Dave Sutch would apparently use the top hat just to hide his long hair as guitarist Vic Clark recalls:
" In 1959/60 it was really extreme to have long hair. He would pull it up over his head and wore a hat during the day. No-one would be seen in public with hair like that in those days. When he went on stage David Sutch kept his hair under his Top hat and during a song the hat would be thrown off, his hair would fall down and this created quite an impact. Girls would scream from sheer fright."

The Future Cyril Davis & His R&B All Stars
On February 6 1960, Dave Sutch met drummer Carlo Little, who was fresh out of the army, at The Cannibal Pot Coffee Bar in Sudbury, Harrow. They got a Rock & Roll group together, recruiting pianist Nicky Hopkins, then guitarists Rick “Fenson” Brown and Bernie Watson. All very young musicians between 15 and 16 year old.
Originally planed to be an instrumental band whom Sutch would be the manager and just copying American records, they started rehearsing in the back room of The Swan Pub in Sudbury, Middlesex, then at a school in Wembley. Shortly thereafter, Carlo Little suggested Sutch to be the singer of the band after he saw him leaping around and screaming while  Bernie Watson played a 12 bar rock and roll jam with Dougie Dee & the Strangers at the Oldfield Hotel, Greenford, and got a screeching sound out of his guitar. He looked unusual enough to do a stage act... As a result, the new frontman adopted the name Screaming Lord Sutch and the rest became the Savages after The Shadows’ hit “Apache” (2).

Three months later the new group had perfected enough songs - essentially Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Elvis Presley numbers - for an act.

By June 1960, Screaming Lord Sutch made his first public appearances with The Savages on the stage of the Park Royal Hotel on Hangar Lane and the Clay Pigeon Pub at Eastcost, and at the British Legion in South Harrow. They created their own small posters to stick up over existing advertising billboards: putting the cost of entry at 2 bob but “A couple of dozen only turned up…”  There, dressed as King Neptune, covered in “Seaweed”, Sutch started his shows by jumping on a table amongst screaming girls, leaping off and landing in a heap on the floor...

They then got their first gig gigs outside London for promoter Bob Potter - owner of the Lakeside Country Club, Surrey - who included them on one of his innovative package show alongside Baby Bubbly, Lance Fortune, Karl Danger and Mel Turner - a black ventriloquist and whose use of blood in his act may well have given Sutch ideas. 

They played Agincourt Ballroom and Camberley Aldershot’s Palais de Dance but it was disastrous. As rhythm guitarist Rick Brown admits, they were so terrible that Potter spent the first show jumping up and down waring his fists at them... A guy called "Alfie" from the Oldfield (a tree surgeon by day) took them there in his van and became their first road manager. As this 'roadie work' was free, they used to let him get on stage and sing a couple of songs.

Though Bob Potter sacked them after the second gig, he still has good memories of Sutch who used to sleep in the bath, his fur coat around him to keep warm, and asked an elderly chemist for pills to thicken his hair. According to Potter, "A great live act doesn’t always make for hit records".

In spite of this, another promoter Lionel Dibby booked Screaming Lord Sutch & his Savages to play on a tour of West country. He even remembers going to an antiques shop with Sutch, helping him look for a coffin for his act.

However they parted company soon after and Carlo Little joined local Harrow based semipro group Dougie Dee & The Strangers while the rest became the "Saxons" backing a girl called Sylvie and managed by a small-time film extra and con-man called Frank Maher.

The Very Dark Midnighters
Meanwhile Sutch teamed up with a North London-based outfit called the Midnighters for more than 6 months, that he spotted at The Black Bull, Whetstone, and which included 3 musicians who had previously worked with Johnny Kidd: tenor saxophone player Pete Newman, baritone saxophonist Jeff Wickens, and guitarist Vic Clark.

In fact, Pete Newman knew Dave Sutch since late 1957, thanks to his sister Pat who had met him at Cricklewood Rollin Skating Rink, in North london, and brought him back to their house in Cobbold road, Willesden, because at that time he had just started playing in a local band called Freddie Heath & his Rock & Roll Combo, whose lead vocalist was later to become "Johnny Kidd" (3). Pete and Pat remember their father wanted Dave to be thrown out because of his unusual apparel on that day. Therefore Dave became Pat's boyfriend, and Pete occassionally backed him at the Two Eyes between jobs with Johnny Kidd (4). When Johnny Kidd decided to work with a power trio, Pete Newman and Jeff Wickens teamed up with Vic Clark - who stood-in several times for Pirates' guitarist Alan Caddy - to form the Midnighters, backing singer Johnny Dark, whose father owned The Black Bull and allowed them to have free rehearsals and then a residency there.

According to Vic Clark, Pete Newman invited his friend Dave Sutch to see them during one of their residency at The Black Bull (5). He told them about his act (6) which was inspired from Screaming Jay Hawkins, and they then invited him to their next rehearsal there.
Their very first gig with Screaming Lord Sutch as his Savages was at a local youth club Church Hall in Willesden, and was announced by a huge banner with words - "Tonight Screamin' Lord Sutch & the Savages!" - which they tied between two trees...
At the beginning they used to play venues such as The Athenium, Muswell Hill, North London, The Clay Pidgeon Pub, Harrow, and The Top 20 Club, Swindon, without bass player or borrowing one from another band (7), until a young engineering student called Chris Dors definitely played with them. 

They did some gigs for promoter Bob Potter in an army drill hall, in Camberley, Surrey.
Pete Newman remembers a gig in Peterborough when the band finished playing only to find their van had been stolen. So Dave Sutch called the police, who drove him around until they found the van - in fact, he had forgotten where he had parked it. But the policeman noticed that the vehicle lacked windscreen wipers and wing mirrors (8)...
At the Soho's annual street parade, on July 14 1960, Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages were on their own float. Sutch virtually 'stole the show' as he was jumping off the float and going crazy amongst the crowd lining the streets. This event received media publicity. Dave Sutch changed disguise depending on songs whire were essentially american cover stuff such as Tim Bradshaw’s "The Train Kept-A-Rolling" - Wearing Top Hat; Bobby Darin’s "Bullmoose" - Wearing huge horns or "King Kong" - Wearing a massive crown (6)...  Vic Clark describes their sound as the same genre as George Thorogood, but 20 years ahead of him (9). So The record companies considered them un-commercial though they were considered and often billed as Britain's Top Rock Group in music papers.
They also played the 2I's Coffee Bar very frequently where Vince Taylor & the Playboys was the main act at that time. Incidentally the Playboys would taken over from The Savages at the end of the year after a last gig with Sutch at The Bongo Club, Canning Town.
As Vic Clark explains, Tom Littlewood, who was now managing singers too, signed-up Dave Sutch after a successful audition at the 2i's but refused to pay his musicians 20 Pounds each per week to tour with him.  

Pete Newman went on to join semi-professional group Douggie Dee & The Strangers, alongside Carlo Little, and then worked with Joe Meek as session musician. He subsequently toured with the Tornados for a while before they backed Billy Fury who decided to replace the brass section with an organ (10).
He was the only one member of the Midnighters who still worked with Sutch, playing saxophone on his debut single "Till The Following Night" b/w "Good Golly Miss Molly ", released the following year.
He kept working with Screaming Lord Sutch in the late 1980's, backing him with the band he formed with his son Paul and that became known as "Some Like It Hot" (11).

Vic Clark teamed up with Chris Dors in The Del Fi's, who were first signed to Phillips records, also recording
with Joe Meek, then released a couple of singles on the Fontana Label. He then joined up with Newman again in a band called The Beat Society which evolved into The Felders Orioles.

(1)  From "The Man Who Was Screaming Lord Sutch" by Graham Sharpe (Aurum Press, 2005) p.29
Here is Pete Newman's own recollection about that:

"As far as I remember Dave Sutch turned up at a very early rehearsal in late 58, with a top hat he had bought from a junk shop and put it on when our baritone sax player Jeff Wickens said "Dave, you look like a lord with that hat on" and somehow it stuck. Later after a meeting in a cafe with my sister Pat and the band Dave wanted a stage name and my sister jokingly said "Dave you can't sing. All you can do is scream" and as it happened Dave was buying an american blues magazine which fearured a blues artiste called Screaming Jay Hawkins, so Dave like the idea of "Screaming Sutch" and somehow the name "Screaming Lord Sutch" evolved...
We went out as "Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages" sometime in 1959...
The very first gig with Dave Sutch as his savages was at a youth club church hall in Willesden, North London, and Dave made a huge banner with words - "Tonight Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages" - which we tied between two trees..."
(2) Though The Shadows had released “Apache” on Columbia records in July 1960.
 They had also released a number intitled “The Savages” in late 1961.

(3) Incidentally, Pete Newman was an old crony of Shadows bass player Jet Harris’ from his Dudden Hill School where they formed their very first band with John Welsh on clarinet, Ray Edmunds (aka "Ray Taylor") on drums, and Jeff Wickens on guitar, in the early 50s.  Pete Newman and Jeff Wickens both joined up The Fabulous Fred Heath Band in September 1957, before moving to the Mike West Group. 
Pete naturally introduced Dave Sutch to Freddie Heath (later known as Johnny Kidd), unaware of his debuts as "Bats Heath & The Vampires".

(4) Pete Newman and Jeff Wickens wrote an instrumental called "The Werewolf" which inspired Freddie Heath to write the B side of the his debut release, "Feelin".  Mike West and Pete Newman did the backing vocals on both sides of that record - "Please Dont Touch" as well as "Feelin" - which was made at abbey road studios and became the first Johnny Kidd's hit single.

(5) Vic Clark: "One night Dave Sutch approached us, while we had a residency at The Black Bull. He introduced himself and said he had this fantastic Act inspired from the American performer Screaming Jay Hawkins but he needed a band. So we invited him to our next rehearsal at The Black Bull. Dave Sutch did his first live gig ever with us the following Saturday at 'The Athenium' at Muswell Hill, North London, the place where Emil Ford had been discovered. He did just one song called 'The Train Kept On Rolling' It absolutely 'brought the house down'... Once we became The Savages, Johnny Dark went, then Pete and I took over the vocals With Dave finishing off the shows."
(6) Pete Newman:
"Dave Sutch was very funny and retained his humour until he died, most of the things he wore on stage for years later were from junk shops like old fur coats he created a thing which he called the minge pole which was my mum's old bird cage stand and tied on the end was part of a Davy Crocket hat which he use to jump off stage and chase girls in the audience with it...
He aquired a pair of buffalo horns from somewhere which he glued at first on to a bowler hat and at one of the first gigs as the Savages at the Athenium Hall in North London, he ran on stage looking like a mad man and the heat from the then stage lights melted the glue and the horns slowly sagged down and stayed like that so if you look at some late photos of Dave with the horns on his head you will see that they look down and not up as were originaly intended."

(7) Pete Newman: 
"We have a bass player at one time called "Whip"... He was in fact Whip Taylor who played with a band called the Johnny Rebs at the same place we did gigs in, The Clay Pigeon Pub, near Harrow. The drummer of that band was none other than the now world famous Jim Marshall inventor of the Marshall amplifiers."

(8) Pete Newman (
From "The Man Who Was Screaming Lord Sutch" by Graham Sharpe, Aurum Press, 2005)
"Dave never had a tax or insurance in those days, he said he "didn't believe in it" and his vehicles frequently lacked essentials like wing mirrors, windscreen wipers and brakes. This van was no exception, so when we arrived in front of it the copper was looking at it suspiciously as Dave went to get in and drive away. He thought quickly, and said, "Oh, no - not only did they nick the van, they've taken my windscreen wipers and wing mirrors..."

(9) Vic Clark: "We had a sound unlike anything in England at that time. We were probably ahead of our time. The record companies considered us un-commercial. I guess the best way to describe our sound was the same genre as George Thorogood, but remember we were more than 20 years ahead of him! So the Midnighters sound became the Screaming Lord Sutch sound."

(10)  Pete Newman was, in fact, part of The Charles Blackwell Orchestra which used to back John Leyton, Mike Berry, Billy Davis and The Avons, and later backed Billy Fury as the Tornados and then recorded best seller hit "Telstar".

(11) Pete Newman:
"I could tell you a million stories of being on the road with Dave Sutch... it was a bit of a nightmare doing gigs with him. I still have very fond memories of him. I still did many gigs with Dave over the year mainly with the band I had at the time called Some Like It hot a very high standard soul band through the 80s to the late 90s."
Read more about the formation of The Savages according to drummer Carlo Little in his confessions; Johnny Dark & The Midnighters
and The Forgotten Savages in the second part of 1960

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