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Screaming Lord Sutch

Screaming Lord Sutch

David Edward Sutch (10 November 1940 – 16 June 1999), also known as 3rd Earl of Harrow, or simply Screaming Lord Sutch, was an English musician. He was the founder of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party and served as its leader from 1983 to 1999, during which time he stood in numerous parliamentary elections. He holds the record for losing all 40 elections in which he stood. As a singer he variously worked with Keith Moon, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Charlie Watts and Nicky Hopkins.

Musical Career

Sutch was born at New End Hospital, Hampstead, London. In the 1960s, inspired by Screamin' Jay Hawkins, he changed his stage 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 1960s rock and 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 (once being trapped inside of it, an incident parodied in the film Slade in Flame). 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 1960s, the most popular "Jack the Ripper", covered live and on record by garage rock bands including The White Stripes, The Gruesomes, the Black Lips and The Horrors, the latter for their debut album.

Screaming Lord Sutch

In 1963, Sutch and his manager, Reginald Calvert, took over Shivering Sands Army Fort, a Maunsell Fort off Southend and in 1964 started Radio Sutch, intending to compete with other pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline. Broadcasts consisted of music and Mandy Rice-Davies reading Lady Chatterley's Lover. Sutch tired of the station, and sold it to Calvert, after which it was renamed Radio City, and lasted until 1967. 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. Roger Warwick left to set up an R&B big band for Freddie Mack.

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).

Political Activities

In the 1960s, Sutch stood in parliamentary elections, often as representative of the National Teenage Party. His first was in 1963, when he contested the by-election in Stratford-upon-Avon caused by the resignation of John Profumo. He gained 208 votes. His next was at the 1964 General Election when he stood in Harold Wilson's Huyton constituency. Here he received 518 votes.

He founded the Official Monster Raving Loony Party in 1983 and fought the Bermondsey by-election. In his career he contested over 40 elections, rarely threatening the major candidates, but often getting a respectable number of votes. He was easily recognisable at election counts by his flamboyant clothes and top hat. In the mid 1980s, the deposit paid by candidates was raised from £150 to £500. This did little to deter Sutch, who increased the number of concerts he performed to pay for campaigns. He achieved his highest poll and vote share at Rotherham in 1994 with 1,114 votes and a 4.2 per cent vote share.

Screaming Lord Sutch

His most significant contribution to politics came at the Bootle by-election in 1990. He secured more votes than the candidate of the Continuing Social Democratic Party (SDP), led by former Foreign Secretary David Owen. Within days the SDP dissolved itself. In 1993, when the British National Party gained its first local councillor, Derek Beackon, Sutch pointed out that the Official Monster Raving Loony Party already had six.

He appeared as himself in the first episode of ITV comedy The New Statesman, coming second ahead of the Labour and SDP, in the 1987 election which saw Alan B'Stard elected to Parliament.

Adverts in the 1990s for Heineken Pilsener boasted that "Only Heineken can do this". One had Sutch at 10 Downing Street after becoming Prime Minister.

Personal Life

Sutch was friends with and at one time lived at the house of Cynthia Payne. However, he suffered from depression and committed suicide by hanging on 16 June 1999, following the death of his mother the previous year. At the inquest, his fiancée said he had "manic depression".

Sutch is buried beside his mother in the cemetery in Pinner, Middlesex. He was survived by a son, Tristan Lord Gwynne Sutch, born in 1975 to American model Thann Rendessy.

In 1991, his autobiography, Life as Sutch: The Official Autobiography of a Raving Loony (written with Peter Chippindale), was published. In 2005 Graham Sharpe, who had known him since the late 1960s, wrote the first biography, The Man Who Was Screaming Lord Sutch.

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