When we got home last night BBC 2 were showing Telstar, the biopic of 1960’s record producer and manager Joe Meek, while Telstar’s primary story concerned Meek’s relationship with Tornado’s bass player and teen idol Heinz, it also touched upon Screaming Lord Sutch, who is probably better known today as the founder of the Monster Raving Loony Party.
In my opinion Sutch was a Rock’n’roll pioneer. His theatrical shows combined the raw excitement of this new subversive music with a sense of theatre derived from music hall and the Gothic Horror films produced by Hammer at the turn of the 1950s and 60s. Without Sutch we would never have had The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Alice Cooper or the Rocky Horror Show.
The only time I ever saw Sutch perform live was in 1983. It was a fundraiser for the Monster Raving Loony Party’s election campaign for the 1983 general election at London’s Marquee Club in Wardour Street. Teddy Boy pall bearers carried Sutch on to the stage in a coffin, before he rose to perform numbers like All Black and Hairy and Murder in the Graveyard. We had guessed it wasn’t going to be any ordinary night, when we noticed the brazier backstage, but I don’t think anybody expected Sutch to launch himself of the stage into the audience wielding a white-hot flaming branding iron. It was like the Red Sea parting, I have never seen people move so fast in my life.
Shortly afterwards Sutch stood against the evil Thatcher in her Finchley constituency polling several hundred votes. The political elite used this as an excuse to raise the cost of a constituency deposit to discourage “frivolous candidates” thereby keeping their happy little monopoly on power and stifling the UK’s democracy even further.