More Savages Memories

 
Being a 'Savage' in the early 1960s meant being a part of musical history. Below are some testimonies from guys who were there helping Carlo and Dave Sutch create the most exciting club band on the British circuit.

 

Ken Payne | Ray King

 

Ken Payne - The Savages, April-Sept 1961

 

Ken Payne played bass on the classic Savages singles 'Til The Following Night' and 'Jack The Ripper'. He now lives in New Zealand and works as a recruitment consultant.

"I first met Carlo when he was a stand in drummer for Dougie Dee and The Strangers (June 1960 to April 1961) and I was the bass player in the band. The Strangers were the first band that I played with but I do not remember how I got to meet up with them. I do remember going to the lead guitarist's house in Sudbury for rehearsals. At the time I lived in Acton and used to get the train to the various gigs, unless they were out of town when I would go to Sudbury to meet up with the van (I remember that the van used to be a new Commer van). I remember that the rhythm guitarist was a strange guy. Brain, the lead guitarist was pretty straight and Douggie Dee was a good performer. Anyway, Sutch came to The Strangers and asked if the whole band would like to be his backing band and we did do a few gigs where we played the main show and Sutch came on as the star turn, but it was only Carlo and me who wanted to give up our jobs and tour with Sutch. I can remember Carlo giving drum lessons at the time but did not know that it was Keith Moon, how about that!

Photo: Dougie Dee and The Strangers c.1960-61

L-R: Dougie Dee, vocals. Norman, rhythm guitar. Ken Payne, bass. Carlo, drums. Brian, lead guitar. Geoff, sax.

Anyway, I was a bit fed up with the Strangers and Carlo was pretty keen to set up the Savages again, so we did auditions and ended up with Roger Mingay (guitar) and Andy Wren (piano). This was April 1961. I thought that Andy looked like an old man when we first met, I think that it was part of his charm. I think that Roger went to live in Melbourne with his parents. I am not sure if it was Carlo's idea or my idea to have the white boots, black pants and orange shirts as the band uniform but it was pretty impressive at the time. I think that the very first job we did was in Harrow where the Cliff Bennet and The Rebel Rousers use to play (according to Carlo's records, this could have been 26 May 1961). I can remember spending many happy afternoons at Carlo's mums house, and always remember Carlo saying that the only thing that you could really eat for tea was salad (he was a big salad eater in those days).

 

The first tour that we went on was the Scotland tour and the agent had set up this "story" that Sutch was eloping to Gretna Green. Well, the girl that he "eloped" with was actually my sister! Anyway, it got the publicity that we were looking for. We started in Peterhead and the place that Sutch had booked us into was such a dive that for fun we started a pillow fight and as a result of that Sutch broke his arm (but he still did the shows). Another tour I remember was to Manchester where we played at the Southern Sporting Club and the Yew Tree Inn (Wythenshawe), the most memorable things for me were some of the conversations that I had with Carlo (it was here that he told me that when you are using somebody else's toilet you need to put paper down on the seat to protect your bum). I will always remember the jobs at Banbury and Kirconnel. In Banbury we had the wally get up on stage and kick a hole in my amplifier and in Kirkconnel the same thing happened, except that we were wearing our orange shirts on Orange Day and we were in a very catholic village (we needed a police escort out of there in the end). Anyway, this bloke got up on the stage and went towards Carlo, who just picked up his ride cymbal and smacked this guy on the forehead. Naturally his head opened up and there was blood everywhere so that started a riot and we had to get out of there." (Click here to see the 1961 gig list).

 

According to the Screaming Lord Sutch biography 'The Man Who Was': "By July (1961) papers were carrying the news that he had tried to elope 'in his pink horsebox' to Gretna Green with a sixteen-year old fan. The tryst was foiled by her mum rushing to Scotland where, it was reported, she discovered her daughter and Sutch, the latter clad in a Tyrolean hat, tartan shirt, Italian suit and cowboy boots. A week later in this eventful year he was fined £12 for assault, following an on-stage brawl at a Dumfriesshire miners club. He told a paper what happened when he was wolf-whistled by a group of workmen: 'I waved a dirty great bunch of fivers in their faces and said I might be a long-haired nit, but I didn't muck about in dirty holes for ten quid a week. That shut them up'. Rodney Johnson, who acted as a general factotum cum roadie for the band in these days, remembered that Sutch, "used to drink whiskey & coke - almost always when someone else was paying. He was a mean man: you could tell by the way he ate eggs - never missed the least bit of the white. It took me a while to realise Carlo's real name, becuase when Sutch was around he always addressed him as 'F'fucksake Carlo' - it was "F'fucksake Carlo, what's happening? F'fucksake Carlo, where's this or where's that?"

Ken Payne: "the horsebox was actually a black Gown van. The sixteen year old fan was my sister Carol who still lives in London. My Mum was not a willing partner to all of this (she saw it as very dishonest). We met up in a hotel in Glasgow somewhere and I had to pretend that I did not know my Mum (because the press would have realised that it was a setup). The report of Sutch being fined £12 was the Kirkconnel event. I do vaguely remember what he said about waving fivers to be true. 

 

I remember Rodney the roadie. My most lasting memory of him was that he was a real drinker. One day he was so drunk that he was driving the van (it was his van, not the gown van) that he decided to climb onto the roof whilst the van was still moving. He got somebody else to take the steering wheel and he stood on the roof of the van whilst it was going and took a piss from the roof, then climbed back into the van and carried on driving. It's true!!!! I think that it was Rodney who took us to meet the Ricky Barnes All Stars and we stayed for a couple of days with the family of one of the band (I still have a photo of Carlo and me standing with the mother of this family, I remember that it was  small mining hamlet just a few miles out of Glasgow on the road to Edinburgh but I cant remember the name of the place (just a village as I recall not far from Bathgate).

"I can remember some of the rehearsals that we did at Roger Mingay's house and some that we did at Carlo's mum's house, Sutch used to wind Carlo up about rehearsals and Carlo used to have this saying that Sutch would only be around for a while but Carlo (as a drummer) would always have work. It was a bit of a love-hate relationship between Carlo and Sutch. I also met Tom Littlewood at the 2I's coffee bar and even have a letter from him telling us about a gig that he had arranged for The Savages. I have a copy of the poster for one of the big gigs with Sutch, which was a concert with Jackie Lynton, Vince Taylor, Johnny Kidd and some other big names of the time.

 

My only memories of recording the Savages' first single 'Til The Following Night': I was pretty proud because it was the first time that I used my new bass rig. Basically it was just a valve amp with a tuned cabinet, with a 15" speaker but at the time it was pretty grunty. I remember some of the discussions between Sutch and Carlo, where Carlo was saying to Sutch, what would we (the band) get out of it (the recording) but Sutch was pretty non-committal about it. I remember that the guy who managed the recording (I guess this must have been Joe Meek) was quite a small bloke and I think that he might have also been bald, but that is all I remember about it all.

Rick Brown (aka Fenson) took over from me in the Savages but Carlo had some sort of relationship with Rick and Bernie Watson even whilst they weren't in the Savages then. I remember the Savages later turning up at my house one time after I had left the band. It seems that Rick was sick or something so I did the gig for them, but Sutch stiffed me for 10 pound so I never worked for him again and soon after went to Australia.

Photo: Dougie Dee and The Strangers, c.1960-61.

Back - Geoff, sax. Ron, manager. Carlo, drums.

Front - Brian, lead guitar. Ken, bass. Norman, rhythm guitar.

I used to have an album by a bandleader called Peter Shickell called 'Good Time Ticket' and this was very meaningful for me because he was saying the the music business was a "good time ticket" for him. Well, I reckon that the music business has been a very good time ticket for me as well, starting with The Strangers, then working with Carlo in the Savages, then on to country show bands, doing ships cruises (out of Australia), working with some other drummers in Australia including Keith Harrison (who then came to the UK with Rolf Harris), Colin Rae (who was working in the London scene in the late 80's and early 90's) and some good drummers in NZ. All in all, starting with light rock, going to flat-out rock with Sutch, going to country show bands, then into dance hall and restaurant music has been a hell of a journey and I am the richer for having met people like Carlo. He was always a generous person and I enjoyed all of my dealings with him. I was proud to call him a mate." 

 

Ray King - The Savages, 1963 

 

Ray, a guitarist, worked with Carlo in The Savages and on a single for Casey Jones, who is best known for his band The Engineers. The single was called 'One Way Ticket' and was previously demo-ed as 'Casey Jones And The Savages' (see Discography). According to Ray, bass player Danny McCullough and pianist Nicky Hopkins were on the final recording. Ray is now a jazz musician in Germany.

 

"It was a shock to see that both Carlo and Nicky have left us, and I felt that I had to say a little bit in their memory. Nice guys are few and far between these days. Generally speaking, one has to excercise caution with all of these things-people forget, and some sadly won't give credit where it's due. I'm full of sour grapes in that respect, as I was without doubt one of the most important players of the day, and nobody, but nobody has given me a word of credit anywhere. I was determined not to let that happen to Carlo, whom I regarded with the greatest respect for his work with Johnny Kidd and others, and simply for being a damned nice guy.

When I played with Carlo and Lord Sutch, the line-up was Freddie 'Fingers' Lee on piano, Danny on bass, myself on guitar. There was a young  sax-player too, on a couple of gigs, I only remember him as being called "Toots". Freddie sounded more like Jerry Lee Lewis than Jerry himself - he was terrific! In Hastings, the Pier Ballroom, Dave set the stage curtains alight! Happy days. I think the threads all came together in Lord Sutch's band, though how Casey got involved there I've no idea, but then he was getting into everything. He stole Dave's stage show down to the last beat of the bass drum, and copied 'Jack the Ripper' after he had his hit in Germany with 'Don't Ha Ha'. There were two versions of that, both released, and the B side of one version had a stupendous blues guitar instrumental on there. Never found out who it was. 

Picture of me being 'beheaded' by Dave Sutch Nov 1965, the last-but-one time we met, taken in the Kassel Town Hall, Germany, by drummer Brian 'Scotty' Wilson >>

 

Casey performed with me in the Bob Xavier-Jackie Lynton Band for a while, and can be heard shaking one maraca on Lynton's awful version of  'I Believe'. That abomination was ruined by the production team, and I read recently that I wasn't on the thing, which although I was, doesn't really upset me too much! We were all in the 2i's when we were handed that release, and I think we all had a little weep of disappointment and rage at the result. Tom Littlewood nearly choked on his chewing gum.

As far as Johnny Kidd is concerned, clearly the Pirates don't seem to want to recognise that perhaps someone else played in there, and in fact, it may have only been a couple of gigs that Carlo did, but unless I really am senile, it was. I saw him with Johnny in Malvern. Clem Catinni had the massive hit with 'Telstar', so the drummer's stool would indeed have been empty in the Pirates, and I imagine that Carlo helped out, and forgot about it.

 

Strange things used to happen in those days. I remember going to a gig somewhere out in the wilds, when our management told us: "you lot are Johnny Kidd and the Pirates tonight", and we said "WHAAAT"! They said somebody messed up the bookings, and not to worry, nobody would notice. Nobody did. But an example of how people forget, I was very friendly with Chris Farlow in those days, and gigged with him and the Thunderbirds when Albert Lee took off once more to the Everly Brothers. I didn't stay with Chris, because I had the gig with Lynton, or so I thought. But when I saw Chris here a couple of years back, he'd forgotten me completely.

 

THE meeting-place for us lot in those days was an Italian-run cafe in a small alley off Wardour St. We used to call it 'The Court', and it was always full of musicians having a meal before leaving for a gig. So, one way of identifying if someone really knew the "scene" at that time would be to ask where everybody met. Of course, there's loads more I could rant on about from those great, but hard years. 'The Court' is now a very seedy strip-joint, as is most of that area. It wasn't like that in our day, although I suppose it was all there, just far more concealed, and therefore more pleasant. I remember seeing the Stones' van parked in Old Compton St. It was a red Commer van, with no windows. Lord Sutch had a blue one, with gigantic buffalo horns mounted on top.

The lad watching Dave is the keyboard player of my band, Joe McGhee >>

 

After the first gig with Lord Sutch and the Savages, they were all knocked out with the sound of my little Gibson amp-but it was not loud enough. So Dave, Carlo and I met early before the next gig and went to see Jim Marshall in his shop in Harrow, to see if he had a louder amp.

 

At that time, he hadn't started to make amplifiers as I remember, but he had produced a bass-loudspeaker cabinet, and Danny McCullough had that. It was, unless I'm mistaken, the first product that came out of the Marshall company. Well, Jim didn't have an amp any bigger than mine, he had a Fender, which was no louder, so we hooked both amps together.

 

I think it should be mentioned that Dave was one of the people that helped to get Marshall up and running. Also, that without Lord Sutch and Carlo, the "heavy metal" scene would never have started, of that I'm certain.

At the end of my stint with him, Dave advertised in the Melody Maker for a replacement for me, and asked me to choose a guitarist for him. So we duly went to Putney Ballroom one Saturday morning - and we were amazed at the response. There were literally hundreds of guitar players, queuing two-deep around the block! Eventually, I picked out a young lad who had a blue Fender Stratocaster and a big Fender Showman amp. (Dave wanted him to be LOUD!) Dave took him on, but a few months later I met the lad. Stuart Taylor was his name, on a gig with Clem and the Tornados, so Stuart wasn't with Sutch for long. (During his time with the Savages, Sutch gave Stuart the nickname 'Daffodil'. Stuart was with the Savages from October to December 1963. According to a newspaper report, he in turn was replaced by a Malcolm Johnson from Liverpool - Ed.) A note about Dave Wendels. He was with Jackie Lynton just before I joined, and we got along famously. Dave left Lynton to join Lulu, and I never saw him again. We (the Lynton band) used to play often in Walton-on-Thames, and the promoter-Dennis Cordell always asked about Dave Wendells, saying "that boy looked like a Greek God". I think Dennis rather liked young men, as so many in the business did!

 

There is often confusion about who played what and when, and I've been the victim of that a few times. That's why you won't find anything about me on the net. I was often confused with Albert Lee, in fact on one of his albums he is credited with playing with an instrumental band called the 'Cruisers' (no, not those of Dave Berry) when in fact t'was I. In those days, we all knew each other, and used to swap bands according to who was available. Thus, I stepped in many times for Albert. Casey knew me by working with Bob Xavier and Jackie Lynton, and I knew Carlo by working with Dave Sutch ,and we often met when he was touring with Johnny Kidd. Nicky Hopkins, I believe, was with Neil Christian at that time, or had just joined the Stones. My old friend, and bass player for the Lynton band, Mick Brunning came out to Germany with me, and stayed on too. He was one of the best bass-players in the London scene, but he had a stroke a while back, and won't be persuaded to start playing again. Before I joined them, Jackie and the band were the first rock unit to get their own show on BBC radio. So Mick was another important  member of the 'clan' who lost all contact when he came here. Jack did come over to be best man at Mick's wedding. I haven't seen Jack now either for a long time. He was enormously talented, but didn't take much care of the friends who thought a great deal of him. The production team at Piccadilly Records kept back our version of 'Unchained Melody', and the vocal on the Righhteous Brothers version was an EXACT copy of Jackie's. The producer was the same man, Ivor Raymonde I believe.

I remember last seeing bassist Danny McCullough at a club in Bückeburg, Germany, the owner of which was supposed to be managing the band I was in. That's a very long story. But, on one Saturday, not long after I had arrived there, The Savages turned up to play. I really don't know any more if Carlo was with them, but Danny certainly was. This, I'm sure, was after his stint with the Animals. The Savages did tour around Germany for a while, we often saw the posters in the clubs we played in. I couldn't understand why they were doing it without Lord Sutch. However, the trail ends there, I never saw Danny again, or heard of him. The Savages did not play on that Saturday, and there was much acrimony between them and our gangster manager (I sued him later, and won the case, but never cashed in the damages as the manager died.) This would have been early in 1965. As I say, there was turmoil and a lot of bad feeling that day, and I can only really remember Danny being there. I'm not sure whether they were perhaps gigging with Casey, but he wasn't there on that day. He was also renowned for not paying his musicians. 

 

Ray King today >>

I was very friendly with Dave Sutch, and last time I saw him was here Kassel, Germany, when he performed to a half empty gig, because he was regarded as "second fiddle" to Casey, who had already achieved fame by copying the Savages show in every aspect. Dave gave me a big hug, and asked me if I still used the little three-cornered Gibson guitar amp - he even remembered that. In fact I still use it, and the amp is more famous than me! Dave never forgave Casey, and neither will I. By getting myself stuck in Germany, of course I've missed out on keeping in touch with all the lads, so I'm a bit sad about that".

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