David Edward Sutch (formerly a plumber’s mate from Harrow) based his act on Screaming Jay Hawkins and presented his musical horror show around British clubs in the late 50s and early 60s, when (for a while) he was the farthest-out thing around.
His record sales were secondary to his stage act (with his backing band, The Savages) which involved props including leopard skins, bullhorns, coffins, monster feet and Roman chariots.
Notoriety was instant as tabloids honed in on Sutch’s shoulder-length tresses – then the longest male hair in the country – and the routine ‘operations’ he conducted on members of his band, where heart and liver (bought from the butchers before the gig) were wrenched out, along with fake intestines (made of cold scrambled eggs, cherry foo dye and old tights).
The notion of standing for parliament in 1963’s Stratford-on-Avon by-election was conceived by Sutch and his then manager, Reg Calvert, who also came up with a stunt that saw Sutch as a figurehead of the short-lived pirate station Radio Sutch off the Essex coast.
By 1970, Screaming Lord Sutch’s biological clock was ticking. Having spent the 60s releasing a small stream of valiantly unlovely singles, he had yet to issue an album.
Fortuitously, Sutch hooked up with long-term acquaintance Jimmy Page at a Led Zep gig and inveigled the latter hot property into contributing to some loose studio sessions, which Page naively interpreted as an anonymous, shits-and-giggles interlude.
The guitarist duly fetched up with Zep drummer John Bonham in tow, and was “bemused” (read ‘unequivocally pissed off’) to subsequently find his name – and that of fellow contributors Bonham, Jeff Beck, Noel Redding and Nicky Hopkins – being touted as the album’s selling point on its release. These august gentlemen summarily washed their hands of it, and it has been denigrated as a reputation-scarring embarrassment ever since.
Sutch began a long political career with the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, which he formed in 1983.
For the next 25 years he unsuccessfully attempted to get elected as an MP. His manifesto included numerous mad (and a few quite sensible) proposals such as the introduction of a 99p coin (to save on change).
During his career he contested over 40 by-elections, often garnering a respectable number of votes but never really troubling the major parties.
Musically, from the 1980s onwards his work spectrum narrowed to one-nighters in insalubrious clubs and out-of-the-way Palais in Britain or on the European mainland.
Yet there were moments – In 1989, he starred in a BBC Radio 1 extravaganza in the London Dungeon and in 1995 he was the surprise sensation of the Chelsea Bridge Reunion, a celebration of British motorbiking in a showground near Battersea Power Station.
A long-time sufferer from depression, 58-year-old Sutch hanged himself on 16 June 1999 from the bannister at his late mother Annie’s house in South Harrow where he’d been living alone since the new year.
After his death, the next elected leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party was a tabby cat called Cat Mandu.