· The Forgotten Savages : 1960 – 1961
(Vic Clark’s Recollections)
The period from June 1960 to April 1961 regards Screaming Lord Sutch’s carrer still unclear.
Though, according to rock historian Pete Frame, he was booked by 2i's Coffee Bar manager Tom Littlewood for a summer package tour, this latter seems to omit a line up of The Savages during this period evolved out of a London based Rock’n’Roll band called Johnny Dark & the Midnighters.
In fact, according to their guitarist Vic Clark, David Sutch approached them one night, while they had a residency at The Black Bull in Whetstone, North London.
He introduced himself and said he had this fantastic Act inspired from the American performer Screaming Jay Hawkins but he needed a band.
So the members of the Midnighters invited him to their next rehearsal at The Black Bull.
According to Vic Clark, Screaming Lord Sutch did his first live gig ever with them the following Saturday at 'The Athenium' at Muswell Hill, North London, the place where Emil Ford had been discovered and where they were playing once a month.
Sutch renamed them The "Savages" whom line up was to be Vic Clark (Lead Guitar), Charlie Parker (Piano), Pete Newman (Tenor Sax), Jeff Wickens (Baritone Sax) and the late Brian Norman (Drums).
At that first gig, sax player Jeff Wickens introduced David Sutch as the "Wild Man from Borneo". They did their usual act - comprising Chuck Berry's numbers "Johnnie B Goode", "Sweet Little Sixteen", Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day", "Peggy Sue", Cliff Richard's "Move It", Johnny Kidd's "Please Don't Touch", instrumentals such as Johnny & the Hurricanes "Red River Rock", "Beatnik Fly" and "Wild Child"- and then Sutch did just one song " The Train Kept-a Rolling", a Bradshaw/Mann/Kay number popularized by the Johnny Burnette Trio, to close the show. As Vic Clark said “It absolutely 'brought the house down”!
"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."
According to Vic, It seems that David Sutch never had a motorbike but just a Vesper scooter that had to be push started. "It was quite an experience trying to jump on the back of a moving scooter while holding my guitar with one hand. Those were the days!"
Once They became The Savages, the vocalist Johnny Dark (who, according to Vic, wasn't a very good singer but whose father owned The Black Bull and that allowed them to have free rehearsals there) went, then Pete Newman and Vic Clark took over the vocals With David Sutch finishing off the shows.
Both Vic and Pete had played in the Mike West's band and did stand-ins for Johnny Kidd & the Pirates for whom Mike was a back-up singer until late 1959 ("Please Don't Touch" and "Feelin").
Jeff Wickens was first to leave the band after having meeting a girl with who he fell in love.
Charlie Parker was a great Honkey-Tonk-Blues Pianist. But because in those days it was virtually impossible to Mic-up the piano, he couldn't be heard. Some venues never had a piano. So Charlie couldn't play some gigs then he had to go.
As they had difficulties to get a permanent Bass player, they borrowed Bass players from other groups. They used occasionally a guy nicknamed "Whip" who used to freelance at the 2 I's. Then Chris Dors, who was studing at the Engineering Department of The Willesden Technical College, joined them. He definitely played Bass Guitar with Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages for 6 months.
On Sunday June 26th, 1960, they performed The Top 20 Club, Swindon, where they were supported by Johnny Haynes and introduced as "Britain's Top Rock Group Direct from The Two Eyes Coffee Bar Soho Triumph Recording Artistes."
They played the 2I's very frequently where Vince Taylor & the Playboys, featuring Tony Harvey and Bobby Woodman, was the main act at that time.
According to Vic, Bobby Woodman was "an amazing rock drummer who really worked his kick-drum - Carlo's inspiration who responded well. One night when they were watching, Sutch grabbed Carlo and said "Thats how I want you to play the drums".
Both bands also played the same venue at The Bongo Club, Canning Town, on Sunday November 27th, 1960 where Lord Sutch was obviously making his East End Debut.
At the Soho's annual street parade and Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages were on their own float. Vic Clark: "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."
Most of the songs they performed were american cover stuff. Sutch changed disguise depending on songs :
· The Train Kept Rolling - Wearing Top Hat;
· Bullmoose - Wearing huge horns;
· King Kong - Wearing a massive crown.
Other numbers were Good Golly Miss Molly (Little Richard), Don't You Just Know It, Honey Hush (Big Joe Turner).
They used to let roadie Alf get on stage and sing a couple of songs and for that his 'roadie work' was free.
Here is a funny anecdote that Vic related about those seminal days:
"We arrived at a gig and while we were back-stage before the show started we noticed one of our supporting bands looked well equipped, possibly they were being financed by someone. Their stage clothing was immaculate and their instruments were brand new American guitars and amplifiers. Sutch felt intimidated and concerned as he thought they might put on a better show than us. So when no-one was looking Sutch found a pair of pliers and cut off all the jack plugs from their guitar leads. I can still see their faces when they were due to go on stage standing there looking bemused holding their plug-less guitar leads. All they could do was pack their gear and go home. Sutch was happy!"
After six months their association with Dave Sutch broke off.
Vic Clark:"The manager of the 2I's Tom Littlewood signed-up Sutch and then asked us how much we wanted to tour with Sutch. We said we wanted 20 Pounds each per week. Tom Littlewood just laughed in our faces saying he has musicians hanging around the 2I's who would do it for half of that. So that's when Screaming Lord Sutch and the original Savages parted company."
Pete Newman went to work with Joe Meek as session musician, still working with Lord Sutch on his debut recordings, then joined the Tornados for a while before they backed Billy Fury who replaced the horn section by an organ.
Vic Clark also worked with Joe Meek, at first with Chris Dors & the Del Fi's, who recorded at RGM studio and Phillips from june 1961 and had a couple of releases on the Fontana Label, then with the Sack'o'Woes whose Sax player Pete Semmens played the long continuous note on clarinet that became the high pitch shrill that was used on Screaming Lord Sutch recording of Jack The Ripper. This band supported The Rollingstones then Jerry Lee Lewis in Brighton circa 1964. Then Vic teamed up with Pete again in a band called The Beat Society who evolved into Felders Orioles.
However Vic Clark never played in the Savages along side Carlo Little, they would have a band project together.
"Sometime later, Myself, Carlo, Pete Newman, Johnny (Fruit) Gordon and
Mike West (both from Johnnie Kid & The Pirates) got together to form a band. We rehearsed a few times but it never really worked out. My house was in Federal Road and I suggested the band be called The Federals."
Courtesy Vic Clark
Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages in 1960
Vic now lives in Australia. He’s the father of Malcom Clark, drummer of Aussie succesful band Sleepy Jackson