Ritchie Blackmore undertook several stints with Screaming Lord Sutch between October 1962 and May 1967.
And it was in 1962 that his career began to take off when he first joined Sutch.
Blackmore recognizes that he learnt a lot of showmanship from him. He started developing his stage routine with him.
Ritchie was guitarist with the Dominators and had a cherry red Gibson ES835 guitar (identical to the one Chuck Berry used).
During May 1961, Blackmore and Roger Mingay both from the Vampires went to audition for Screaming Lord Sutch. Mingay was deemed more experienced and got the job, so Blackmore joined Mike Dee's band instead.
According to Ritchie Blackmore, he actually passed the audition - then turned it down because he was too young and they toured so much he just didn’t want to leave home.
Ritchie Blackmore did join Screaming Lord Sutch & his Savages replacing Dave Wendells who supplied Bernie Watson for some weeks in May 62. Dave wendells later became guitarist with Love Affair and Hurricane.
In fact when Watson left to replace Mickey King the Cliff Bennett’s Rebel Rousers, Blackmore accepted the gig, but had to fulfill his commitments as guitarist with Mike Dee & The Jaywalkers who were backing the Kestrels and Danny Rivers on the Johnny Burnette/Us Bonds/Gene McDaniels package tour until mid May 1962.
According to Ritchie, Pete Townsend of the Who also attended the audition for Sutch but had strangely failed.
In the beginning Ritchie, ill at ease dressed in animal skin, used to hide behind his amps and in the wings. So Sutch used to grab him and pull him out.
At one such gig on June 25, 1962, Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages headlined at Wembley Town Hall.
Keith Moon, another future Who, was in the audience and saw Ritchie Blackmore whose devastating runs up and down the guitar were leaving people gasping for breath.
Blackmore’s Last Sutch gig during this first spell was at Putney on October 12th 1962; he then left to replace Mingay in The Outlaws, another outfit produced by Joe Meek.
After his stints with Heinz and Neil Christian, Ritchie came back to the fold in early 1965 for three months. Screaming Lord Sutch recruited all the members of the Crusaders, Neil Christian’s backing band. Ritchie Blackmore, bass player Andy Anderson and drummer “Tornado” Evans, supplemented by four saxophonists featuring Ashton Tootell, Noel "Mac" Manus and Dick Errington, recorded a single with Sutch: Honey Hush/The Train Kept A-Rollin' (CBS 201767), released in May 1965. They promoted it at London Marquee Club, and then during a “Thank Your Lucky Stars” TV appearance. However the eight piece line-up prove too ambitious and Ritchie Blackmore eventually would leave the band, along with Anderson and Evans, to back Jerry Lee Lewis during a residency at the Star Club, in Germany.
Ritchie Blackmore rejoined once again Sutch in late 1966 and toured Sweden then Germany with him, this once disguised as roman soldier in his Roman Empire. He finally decided to stay in Germany until his next adventure… Deep Purple, the following year.
Ritchie Blackmore finally admits that Screaming Lord Sutch had a fantastic hand and had an amazing band.
His last gig with him was a jam at The Country Club, in Hamstead, London, in April 1970, in which he reunited with several ex-Savages such as Matthew Fisher, Carlo Little or Nick Simper. Blackmore was paid $500 for playing that night. The recordings were later released as "Hands Of Jack The Ripper" album.
Interviews of Ritchie Blackmore
"Record Collector" #228, August 1998
RC: In 1962 you started playing with Screaming Lord Sutch & the Savages. Was that a big step up in your career? RB: Yes it was. I went to rehearsals with this guy, who was offering a lot of money. I’d never heard of him, but I went and passed the audition - then turned it down. I was only 15 or 16, and they toured so much I just didn’t want to leave home. Then I went back about six months later and said I’d try it. I’d only rehearsed with him and I didn’t know the stage set-up, I didn’t know what was going to happen. We started playing "Jack the Ripper", and Sutch entered the stage in a coffin. I thought, "This guy is nuts and I’m playing in his band! I’ve got to go home with this guy, and he’s driving the van." I was not amused.
RC: Sutch has commented on how shy you were. RB: Yeah, that’s right. He used to grab my guitar neck and go, "Come on, move, move!" RC: And you used to hide behind your amps? RB: Oh yeah, behind my amps and in the wings. He used to grab me and pull me out. I learnt a lot of showmanship from him. He taught me you can get out there and act like an imbecile, and people will think it’s wonderful. It’s very interesting, it’s like a whole psychology. You go out on stage and if you look self-conscious people will watch you. If you go out and throw yourself around like a fool, it’s like a show, a whole masquerade. But the moment you start taking yourself too seriously and go into a shell, people see it. He taught me to just get out there and run around. In the end I was running around in a Tarzan outfit and these people were going for it. I can’t believe it! RC: The same year, you rejoined Sutch’s Savages. RB: When the bills started to mount up, it was back to Sutch. You’d get to the point where everybody in the band would go, "I can’t take this any longer". They would leave, but you knew they’d come back. It was like breaking out of a prisoner-of-war camp: a month later they’d come back in. They would hate it, it was like a penance, but he was the only one who would pay any money. You could go with all the fancy bands but they didn’t pay any money.
RC: The Three Musketeers got a mention on the "Shadow Of The Moon" album. You must have fond memories of that time. RB: Yeah, very fond… All the songs we had were really fast and the big thing in Germany in 1965 was that you played music to dance to… In the middle of the act, we’d do our special, a really fast number which was "Flight Of The Bumble Bee". You can imagine the audience watching us. It was great for me but terrible for them. So they used to disappear and our work went downhill. That’s how I ended up back with Sutch again. He was brilliant, actually. When we were in the key of A, he would sing in C sharp. I don’t know how he did it - it’s very difficult singing in this totally unrelated key to what was being played.
“Guitar Player” - From Deep Purple to Rainbow (Steve Rosen)
Your work with Screaming Lord Surch was before Purple?Yes, I forgot about that. The Screaming Lord introduced me to showmanship. Before that I used to play in the wings, and when I met him he pulled me out front and demanded I jump around and act stupid. My first impression of him was that I thought he was mad. In those days nobody had that kind of long hair; God knows how long it was. And he had his own act. But he had a fantastic hand, he had an amazing band.Who was in the band with you at that time?Ricky Benson, who later went with Georgie Fame, and Carl Little, who the Stones wanted and he turned them down - he's heen kicking himself ever since. And [pianist] Nicky Hopkins used to come along now and then, because we all lived around the same area.You started developing your stage routine with Sutch?Yeah, that's right. He pulled me on the stage and I was slightly electrocuted, because he was touching the mike and me. After that I thought if he can get away with it, I can do that, because I could see how well he was going down and how much money he was earning. I thought, "I can run around the stage and act like a maniac. Maybe I'll get paid for it, too."
“THE MASTER SPEAKS”
Dave Ling: You have a lot of nice memories of the early days?
RB "Not just good ones of course. The hungry days were mostly nice times but I often played with musicians I hated, too. Some of them were real snobs who only wanted to see the negative sides of playing rock'n'roll. This was really bad when I played with Screaming Lord Sutch And The Savages. One half of the band consisted of rock and rollers, the other half were jazz soloists. They drove me nuts. There were good times though, especially in the Star Club in Hamburg in 1965/66."
Some appearances With Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages
June 2nd 1962 - England, Peterborough, Corn Exchange supported by The Escorts
June 11th 1962 - England, Dunstable, California Ballroom supported by Jeff Knight & The Challengers
June 25, England - Wembley Town Hall supported by Paul Dean & the Dreamers
August 17th 1962 - Buckingham Town Hall supported by The Senators
October 12th 1965 - England, Putney Last gig
February 12th 1965 - England, Farnborough Technical College supported by The Stormsville Shakers
February Saturday 13th 1965 - England, Dunstable, California Ballroom
March 24th 1965 - England, Bradford, Top 20 Club
March 29th 1965 - England, Hitchin, The Hermitage Ballroom supported by The Cortinas
April 27th 1965 - England, London, Marquee Club: launch of single 'Train Kept A Rolling'
May Saturday 22nd 1965 - Thank Your Lucky Stars TV appearance promoting 'Train Kept A Rolling'
May 1965 - Germany, Star Club
In Late1966 – early 1967
· December 5th 1966 - Scotland, Dunfermline, Kinema Ballroom
· December 15th 1966 - Brighton, Sussex University Supporting Cream
· January 14th 1967 - Germany, Scala Herford, Jaguar Club supported by The Rainbows
· February 1967 - Germany, Kiel Star Club supported by The Xceptions
· April 14th 1970 - jam at The Country Club, in Hamstead, London
Screaming Lord Sutch & his Savages
Heinz & The Wild Boys