It seemed that Screaming Lord Sutch ran in every election and by-election in the UK from the early 1980s until his untimely death in 1999. There he would be on every election night, standing on the podium with his leopard spot jacket, top hat and rainbow rosette. Sutch was the perennial candidate of the Official Monster Raving Looney Party, which he founded in 1983. In fact, he had been standing for parliament on a regular basis under different guises since 1963, when sickened by the hypocrisy and corruption of British politics as exposed through the Profumo scandal, he started the National Teenage Party. Alas, Sutch never won, which was a shame, as his presence always ensured some anarchic, intelligent fun was added to the usual gaudy proceedings.
But Screaming Lord Sutch was more than a prickly whoopee cushion in the lives of unaccountable politicians, he was a well-loved sixties rock star, an early pioneer of shock rock, garage rock, psycho-billy who mixed monster movie aesthetics with rock ‘n’ roll long before Alice Cooper and The Cramps came along.
David Edward Sutch was born in Hampstead, London on November 10 1940. He left school at sixteen and worked at a variety of jobs, before he started his performing career at the 2 i’s Coffee Bar (the “birthplace of British rock ‘n’ roll”) on Old Compton Street, Soho in the late 1950s. Sutch took his name from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and with his eighteen inch locks, bizarre outfits (a giant headpiece of cow horns) and outrageous stage act, Sutch and his band The Savages soon attracted the ear of legendary producer (and future murderer) Joe Meek leading to their pioneering singles in the early 1960s.
When I first heard Sutch’s early recordings with The Savages, such as “Jack the Ripper,” “‘Til the Following Night” and his cover of Johnny Burnette’s “Train A-Kept A-Rollin’,” I couldn’t understand why he never became a major international star. Sutch appeared to have done most of pop’s rebellious things before anyone else (long hair, the wildest clothes, act, songs, etc. ) but never received the credit for any of it.
Screaming Lord Sutch and The Savages recorded and performed from the sixties to 1999, when Sutch tragically committed suicide, and during that time the line-up of The Savages included future actor/singer Paul Nicholas, guitar legends Ritchie Blackmore, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, bass player Noel Redding, drummers Keith Moon and John Bonham, and piano-wizard Nicky Hopkins.
Maybe Sutch relied too much on his “shock” tactics shows, or did too many covers of old rock ‘n’ roll classics, or was held back by his own personal problems (he suffered from depression all his life), who knows? But for sheer power, energy and good times rock ‘n’ roll, there’s nothing to beat Screaming Lord Sutch.
More after the jump…