Carlo Little, RIP

As already reported in the iJamming! Pub, former Screaming Lord Sutch and The Savages drummer and Keith Moon tutor Carlo Little passed away last Saturday following a long battle with lung cancer.

I had the good fortune of interviewing Carlo for Dear Boy. His was a vital part of the story. For as I subsequently wrote,

Much of the Savages’ excitement emanated from the back of the stage where, as if by divine intervention, there sat a British drummer who understood what it took to play rock’n’roll. Over the years the line-up of the Savages would include some of the key musicians of the Sixties and Seventies, and their galvanising effect on others can only truly be garnered by talking to those who saw them.

“They were the equivalent of a hard rock band today,” says the Escorts’ bass player Colin Haines. “They would grab you by the scruff of the neck and thrash it out. They were very dynamic and loud.”

(The Escorts’) Rob Lemon had no doubt where that on-stage energy was derived from. “Carlo Little played drums in the UK like no one else. He was original like you can’t believe. And it was all to do with the bass drum.”

“He was a fantastic heavyweight rock’n’roll drummer,” says (Keith Moon’s close friend) Gerry Evans, “and we were in awe of him. He used to hit the bass drum like you’d never seen. It was like a cannon, like a bomb going off when he hit it.”

Original Who drummer Doug Sandom, Carlo Little and yours truly, at the Dear Boy book launch in London, September 1998.

Carlo himself would hardly be the one to disagree. “When I hit something I didn’t just tap it. I walloped it. ‘Take that!’ It hit you. It was impressive. Especially in those days, because I took it hard as it could go. We were the loudest band ever.” Quite apart from their energy, disregarding their exhibitionism, ignoring for a moment their choice of material and even discounting the drummer who hit his kit with such a violent passion, these fellow musicians also on the scene had added reason to be inspired by – and jealous of – the Savages.

Carlo: “We were such an excitingly loud, hard-hitting rock and roll band that wherever we played the audiences couldn’t believe what they were hearing, and every town we played in we were getting the local young groups coming and asking our advice.” At one such gig on June 25, 1962, Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages headlined at Wembley Town Hall Keith Moon was among several hundred who attended the show.

After that show, the 15-year old Keith begged an initially resistant Carlo Little to teach him the drums. Over the course of a few lessons in his front room, Little taught Moon the rudiments of a style that would go on to revolutionise rock’n’roll.

Following the publication of Dear Boy, I struck up a pen pal relationship with Carlo’s daughter Giselle, who established a web site for her father which you can access here. Carlo’s funeral takes place next Monday at the South Tyneside Crematorium, in South Shields.

Carlo joins a list of Dear Boy interviewees who are no longer with us. They include John Entwistle, John Waters, Oliver Reed, Gerry Evans, Ian Dury, Lionel Bart and Noel Redding.

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October 2021