Screaming Lord Sutch

By: Patrick Cates
November 10, 2009

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If you grew up glued to a television set in England in the ’80s, as I did, nothing irritated you more than local and general election broadcasts, which your parents insisted on watching while you fantasized about The Sweeney, The Professionals and other cop dramas full of violence and swearing. The only ray of light peeking through this dark televisual cloud was provided by SCREAMING LORD SUTCH (1940-99) and his Official Monster Raving Loony Party. On election night, decked out in a gaudy topcoat, top hat, and a panoply of badges, rosettes, and other paraphernalia, he would take up position on the podium next to his electoral rivals and cause colorful uproar as the results were announced. He was the political equivalent of a loud fart emitted in a two-hour church service. It’s easy to write Sutch off as an attention-hungry nutter, but he was an influential enabler in the British ’60s music scene, nurturing the likes of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Noel Redding at the bosom of his schlock-horror combo, The Savages. He was also a catalyst of genuine political change: thanks, in part, to Sutch’s campaigning, 18-year-olds were given the vote, commercial radio was legalized, and Carnaby Street was pedestrianized. When he hanged himself in 1999, after a life spent suffering silently from severe depression, British music lost a grandfather and British politics lost a splash of technicolor.

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HUMORISTS at HILOBROW: Michael O’Donoghue | Jemaine Clement | Andy Kaufman | Danny Kaye | George Ade | Jimmy Durante | Jack Benny | Aziz Ansari | Don Rickles | Godfrey Cambridge | Eric Idle | David Cross | Stewart Lee | Samuel Beckett | Jerry Lewis | Joanna Lumley | Jerome K. Jerome | Phil Silvers | Edward Lear | Tony Hancock | George Carlin | Stephen Colbert | Tina Fey | Keith Allen | Russell Brand | Michael Cera | Stan Laurel | Ricky Gervais | Gilda Radner | Larry David | Chris Pontius | Dave Chappelle | Jimmy Finlayson | Paul Reubens | Peter Sellers | Buster Keaton | Flann O’Brien | Lenny Bruce | Sacha Baron Cohen | Steve Coogan | PG Wodehouse | A.J. Liebling | Curly Howard | Fran Lebowitz | Charlie Kaufman | Stephen Merchant | Richard Pryor | James Thurber | Bill Hicks | ALSO: Comedy and the Death of God

READ MORE about the Anti-Anti-Utopian Generation (1934-43).

Categories

Haw-Haw, HiLo Heroes

What do you think?

  1. Screaming Lord Sutch was a genius, he still played with his band, the Savages, at the time when I used to see him on the bus on my way to or from work in the Harrow-on the-Hill area roundabout the late ‘8o’s, he was my mate’s Mums neighbour, she said he loved his gardening.
    Just what the Po faced, upper class, public school populated parliament needed to remind them that they are the same as the rest of us, ‘The Emperors New Clothes’ springs to mind…
    Anyway, the last gig I saw him perform was in the back room of The Clay Pidgeon pub, a psychobilly/metal head hang out in Eastcote, he started the show with a full snifter of brandy, wearing his full length leopardskin pimp coat, mirrored Top Hat, with a skull mounted walking cane, about halfway through his set he sang ‘Jack the Ripper’, halfway in a fake bobby climbed on stage to arrest him, so he pulled out a dagger with a penis as its hilt & stabbed away merrily whilst lots of fake blood spouted out, at this point the rock’a’billys went nuts, two of which mounted the stage to sing the rest of his set for him, as he seemed a bit worse for wear after finishing a few of said brandies, he looked happy enough sitting on a table to the side of the stage toasting the crowd. He was the UK’s answer to Screaming J Hawkins, or as close as we’ll ever get, total awesomeness in suburbia.

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