jeudi 6 novembre 2008
The eccentric singer was born at New End Hospital, in Hampstead, North London, on 10th November 1940 and was named after 'David Copperfield' from Charles Dicken's novel.
Brought up by his devoted and resourceful mother, Dave Sutch was an admirer of the entertainer Max Miller and an eager theatre-goer.
"My mother used to take me to the Metropolitan Theatre in Edgware Road to see the big illusionist acts. I was intrigued and, from then on, I was always dressing up in magicians' cloaks and top hats. She also took me to Punch and Judy shows. I was so smitten, I made my own little horror puppets".
He therefore began his career of entertainer with puppet shows as a very young child.
Later, he entered a talent contest at Butlins Holiday Camp in Clacton-on-Sea and and won a clockwork mouse with his rendition of Patti Page's 1953 Hit "How much is that doggy in the window".
By 1956, he left school and started to work as a sheet metal worker in a factory in Hanger Lane, Willesden. Soon after he became a plumber's apprentice for a while and then ended up as assistant mechanic in a garage.
From October 1957 to February 1958, Dave Sutch had Worked for the Dayton Cycle Company from where he had picked up a weekly pay of £6 ¼ d at the end of the term prior to running a window-cleaning business (See last chapter).Meanwhile he had developed a real passion for american Rock'n'Roll listening to his new idols, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry or Little Richard, on Radio Luxembourg. In March 1957, he even attended Bill Haley & his Comets' concert in Brixton during their unique European Tour. He had the occasion to see Jerry Lee Lewis twice in May 1958, at Kilburn State Theatre and at the Dominion Theatre, in Tottenham Court Road, London.
Like most of great fans of Rock and Roll, he and his friends spent a lot of time at various Coffee Bars where they could listen to their favourite music such as the Ace Cafe, the Cannibal Pot Coffee Bar in Harrow and the Two I's Coffee Bar in Soho.
At that time, Dave Sutch met up with Pat Newman whose brother Pete was sax player with the Fabulous Freddie Heath Band (a band fronted by a singer later most known as “Johnny Kidd”) prior to being part of one of the very first line ups of the Savages during 1960. Pat brought Dave from Cricklewood Rollin Skating Rink.
There are variations on the derivation of Screaming Lord Sutch’s title. 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 Pete Newman 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 and I said, “Hey, Dave, you look like a lord”.
Indeed inspired by illusionist Max Miller, Dave Sutch was always dressing up in magicians' cloaks and top hats (read the previous chapter).
He actually met drummer Carlo Little, fresh out of the army, at The Cannibal Pot Coffee Bar in Sudbury, Harrow, on February 6 1960. They got a Rock & Roll group together which was initially planed to be an instrumental band whom Sutch would be the manager. Soon after, Carlo Little suggested Sutch to be the singer of the band while Bernie Watson played a 12 bar rock and roll jam with Dougie Dee & the Strangers at the Oldfield Hotel, Greenford.
When Watson got a screeching sound out of his guitar and Sutch started leaping around and screaming. As a result,
the band decided that Sutch should be the singer though he couldn't sing and he then adopted the name Screaming Lord Sutch.
"At the Oldfield Hotel, Greenford, David Sutch was dancing to the live band, Dougie Dee & the Strangers. Bernie Watson played a 12 bar rock and roll jam with them.
Excited by Bernie's playing who screamed his guitar loudly, Sutch shook his head, letting his hair fall down and all over his face, then screaming his head off, 'Yeah, man!'... He looked unusual enough to do a stage act..."
In those days, Dave Sutch discovered another act from America: the eccentric black singer "Screaming Jay Hawkins" who started his shows by coming out of a coffin in flames, always accompanied with a flaming skull named Henry and whose biggest tune “I Put A Spell on you” (later covered by the Alan Price Set), released on OKeh Records in late 1956, was banned from radio stations across the USA, deemed cannibalistic. He also spotted Wee Willy Harris singing Neil Sedaka's "I Go Ape" at The 2 I's and television dressed as a caveman.
In June 1960, the band that backed Screaming Lord Sutch was renamed the Savages after The Shadows’ hit “Apache”, according to Pete Newman (1) . However the latter only worked with Sutch when his band The Midnighters from Whetstone, North London, became the new Savages a few weeks later and The Shadows released “Apache” on Columbia records in late July 1960.
The first photo of the Savages was taken at a school in Wembley, in June 1960, where they were rehearsing.
The new name of the band can be seen cartooned on Carlo's drumkit.
Could there be another origin of Savages' band name such as "The Wild Ones" from the movie starring Marlo Brondo or from another instrumental number: "Comanche" by Link Wray & The Wraymen, shouting "like Savages" in the intro?
(1) The Shadows released a number intitled “The Savages” in late 1961.
His Lordship never slept in a palace in those days
According to promoter Bob Potter: "Screaming Lord Sutch used to sleep in the bath, his fur coat around him to keep warm He asked an elderly chemist for pills to thicken his hair. When le left me I knew he’d never have a hit record - A great live act doesn’t always make for hit records"
Playboys' pianist Alan LeClaire remembers that during their first tour of Devon and Cornwall, "Sutch slept in the back of the van to save on expences."
Jess Conrad recalls:
"During The "1961 All Stars" in February 1961, Screaming Lord Sutch was living in a horsebox - sleeping on straw in the back."
By 1958, Dave Sutch and a friend of his Colin Dale, who later became roadie of his band, started to go to the famous Two Is Coffee Bar in Old Compton Street, Soho, London. The coffee bar run by Tom Littlewood being a mecca to budding pop stars - was The hottest place to be - as it was here that Tommy Steele, Terry Dene, Marty Wilde and Cliff Richard were discovered. One night they took to the stage in the cellar and earned a plate of fish and chips each as wages. Obviously Littlewood never paid much at any time.
In early 1959, resolved to be a rock'n'roll singer, Sutch attended auditions there which were interrupted because the auditioners got fed up with all the Elvis Presley look-alikes who came.
“It was just a cellar in a basement of a Coffee Bar, where they sold frothy Coffee, but It was a breeding ground for Rock’n’rollers. I got an audition. They said at the time that they didn’t want any more guys just coming and copying Elvis...”
Littlewood advised the newcomer: “Get a gimmick, and you’re in”. So Sutch decided to swap his former apparel for the 'wild man of Borneo' look after he saw a pair of old buffalo horns for sale at 15 shillings in a place called "Jack's Second Hand Shop".The next day, Sutch returned to the Two I's Coffee Bar, disguised with buffalo horns glued to his crash helmet and his aunt's leopard skin jacket, which he tored the sleeves off. Flaunting his wild man image, he impressed at his audition, singing an old song called “Bullshit Boogie”.(2)Tom Littlewood remembers his first encounter with Screaming Lord Sutch:“One afternoon a strange individual came in, presenting himself as Mr. Sutch and asked if he could do an audition. I was very much amazed when he arrived, looking like a rag-and-bone man. He had with him a large bundle of miscellaneous equipment - sheepskin, pair of Buffalo horns, a man-trap, snow shoes and so forth. He sang an obscure old number called “Bullshit Boogie”.He therefore landed a spot singing at the Two I's, and began to pick up bookings for gigs. However he spent the proceeds of his first two gigs reimbursing his aunt the cost of the coat. The material of his debut is impossible to pinpoint though his early influences were Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Bo Diddley. His repertoire probably included then current hits such as Jerry Lee Lewis' “Great Balls of Fire”, Little Richard's “Good Golly Miss Molly” or Bobby Darin’s “Bullmoose” and “Splish Splash”. Did Sutch already know Tim Bradshaw’s original and bluesy version of “The Train Kept Rollin’” or was he inspired by its more rockabilly oriented rendition of the Johnny Burnette Trio? Also impossible to determine: who was backing him at that time? Probably the Two I's house band which comprised Tony Harvey on lead guitar and Bobby Woodman drums who both later worked with Vince Taylor as members of his Playboys.
(2) It seems that it would be a legend from a newspaper:
Obviously Rock star Vince Taylor, who was one of the main acts at the venue, would recommended Sutch to Littlehood after he heard him scream somewhere.
On September 28th 1960, The Sunday Pictorial ran a photograph of Screaming Lord Sutch - arms outstreched, eyes shut, mouth wide open, hair hanging around his face - with the head line “he’s the daftest yet”.
The 19 year old screamer was plain Dave Sutch from South Harrow, Middlesex, when he asked Rock star Vince Taylor for work with his group. Vince heard Dave scream and recommended him to his own backer, Tom Littlehood, who runs the 2I’s… Tom advised the newcomer: “Get a gimmick, and you’re in”.
So, plain Dave Sutch went away and bought a pair of buffalo horns in a Second Hand Shop for 15 shillings. He fixed them in a hat, and returned to Two I's as Screaming Lord Sutch, the 18-inch hair just grew, along with the gimmick, and now he is touring with Vince’s group. Says Vince: “When the screamer starts work, the fans don’t know wether to laugh, jive or run away”. Sutch described the group’ style at that time as “Rock’n’Roll, Wild and Frantic”.
When Tom Littlewood put “Screaming Lord” Sutch out on the road with Keith Kelly and Vince Taylor, in Autumn of 1960, the all-purpose backing band was held together by Bobbie Woodman.
The first tour Screaming Lord Sutch and The Playboys did together was of Devon and Cornwall, during which their pianist Alan Le Claire used to drive the old van of the band as Sutch had no driving licence.
“While we were with Taylor, we were introduced to Sutch. He didn't have a band at that time, so he toured with us for a few months before getting his own group together… The first tour we did was of Devon and Cornwall. He had an old van, but no driving licence. I drove it and it kept on breaking down… Sutch slept in the back of the van to save on expences… He act was general lunacy and quite funny. He couldn't sing, but just shouted while we played…
His stage show was really a visual performance of organised insanity. A real good laugh, but not much musical value…”
In late 1950s, Dave Sutch lived in South Harrow, Middlesex. Originally he had an Elvis Presley look-alike apparel and hopped onto his newly acquired second-hand BSA Bantum 125cc motorbike (3) , he used to head to Coffee Bars such as Ace Cafe on North Circular Road and the Cannibal Pot Coffee Bar on Harrow Road. (3) It seems that it would be another legend: David Sutch would never had a motorbike in those days but just a Vesper scooter that had to be push started.
Those places became his favourite haunts. There he met an acquaintance called 'Big Ginger Bill' who persuaded him to buy his window cleaning round for £15.Now as self employed and part-time window cleaner but outlandish full-time layabout, he was free to develop his desire to stardom.
Dave Sutch:“The work gave me the freedom to be myself, let my hair grow long and wear whatever I liked as well as practise songs as I went on my rounds. All the money I earned I kept. I was on my way...”“I was the first of the longhairs... I had grown my locks to 18 inches long and turned myself into a freak years before the hippies came along”.
Another explanation of Screaming Lord Sutch’s title. Dave Sutch would apparently use the top hat for a special reason as guitarist Vic Clark recalls:" In 1959/60 men’s hair was generally kept short. So 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."
In March 1959, Dave Sutch even took part in a walking between Aldermaston and London to campaign for the nuclear disarmament. This was his great debuts in politics...
Check out the following links about Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages
· Their Complete Story
· Their early days: 2i's Coffee Bar time
· A Forgotten lineup of The Savages in 1960
· Their Golden Years in the 60’s
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