Friday, 20 November 2009
Screaming Lord Sutch
Screaming Lord Sutch singing Dracula's Daughter. A Joe Meek Production from the 60's. I must admit I have a soft spot for rock stars that dress up as Count Dracula and have a coffin and a skull on stage as a prop. In fact I think he used to emerge from the coffin at the start of his act! Great sound effects too. One of the very first records I ever bought was "Jack The Ripper" accompanied by suitable blood curdling screams. After his brief pop career he ventured into politics and became infamous as the leader of the Raving Loony Party and thus cheering us all up on those depressing polling day evenings - he stood in full witch doctors costume holding a trident with all the suits on the runners and riders podium.
Sutch was born at New End Hospital, Hampstead, North West London. In the 1960s, inspired by Screamin' Jay Hawkins, he changed his artist name to Screaming Lord Sutch, 3rd Earl of Harrow, despite having no connection with the peerage. His legal name remained David Edward Sutch.
After his career as an early-'60s rock 'n' roll attraction, it became customary for the UK press to refer to him as Screaming Lord Sutch, or simply Lord Sutch. Early works included recordings produced by audio pioneer Joe Meek.
During the 1960s, Screaming Lord Sutch was known for his horror-themed stage show, dressing as Jack the Ripper, pre-dating the shock rock antics of Alice Cooper. Accompanied by his band, The Savages, he started by coming out of a black coffin. Other props included knives and daggers, skulls and "bodies". Sutch booked themed tours, such as 'Sutch and the Roman Empire', where Sutch and the band members would be dressed up as Roman soldiers.
Despite self-confessed lack of vocal talent, he released horror-themed singles during the early to mid-'60s, the most popular "Jack the Ripper", covered live and on record by garage rock bands including the White Stripes, The Black Lips and The Horrors for their debut album, Strange House.
In 1963, Sutch and his manager, Reginald Calvert, took over Shivering Sands Army Fort, a Maunsell Fort off Southend. This was to be Radio Sutch, intending to compete with other pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline. He planned to play music and broadcast Mandy Rice-Davies reading Lady Chatterley's Lover. It didn't happen and Calvert took over the project, renaming it 'Radio City', which lasted for a couple of years. In 1966 Calvert was shot dead by Oliver Smedley over a financial dispute. Smedley was acquitted on grounds of self-defence. About this time Ritchie Blackmore left the band to form Deep Purple. Roger Warwick left to set up an R&B big band for Freddie Mack.
In 1968, Sutch toured parts of the United States in a Rolls Royce with a Union Flag on the roof and a trailer of Marshall amplifiers to sell.[clarification needed] He had a share interest in the Marshall company.
Sutch's album Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends was named in a 1998 BBC poll as the worst album of all time, a status it also held in Colin Larkin's book The Top 1000 Albums of All Time, despite the fact that Jimmy Page, John Bonham, Jeff Beck, Noel Redding and Nicky Hopkins performed on it and helped write it.
For his follow-up, Hands of Jack the Ripper, Sutch assembled British rock celebrities for a concert at the Carshalton Park Rock 'n' Roll Festival. The show was recorded (though only Sutch knew), and it was released to the surprise of the musicians. Musicians on the record included Ritchie Blackmore (guitar); Matthew Fisher (keyboard); Carlo Little (drums); Keith Moon (drums); Noel Redding (bass) and Nick Simper (bass).
In the Rolling Stones song "Get Off of My Cloud", the guy who shows up "All dressed up just like a Union Jack" was Lord Sutch uninvited in Mick Jagger's room."