Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Brief HIstory of The Savages

The Savages

1965 marks the year when two friends, Bashir Sheikh (Drums) and Lenny Cason (Lead Guitar), formed “The Savages”, a band that was destined to become one of India’s greatest groups!

It’s interesting to note that were it not for a film called, “The Gene Krupa Story” starring Sal Mineo as the legendary drummer Gene Krupa, there would not have been a drummer called Bashir Sheikh.

And, were it not for “The Shadows”, arguably the greatest British instrumental group and backing band of Cliff Richard, there would be no group called ‘The Savages” for it was The Shadows’ famous instrumental, “Savage” that inspired Bashir and Lenny to call their band The Savages with Savage becoming their signature tune!

The memory of The Gene Krupa Story is deeply etched in the mind of Bashir. “ It was showing at Bombay’s premiere cinema house, Eros,” recalls Bashir. “ When I left the theatre, I had just one thing on my mind. I had to play the drums!” It had to be destiny. How else do you explain the fact that even as a school boy in the 1st grade, Bashir had longed to lay his hands on the tin drum during music period and yet, the closest he ever got to a percussion instrument was the Triangle which had to be struck with a mettle “stick”.
“And so”, he continues, “I headed straight from Eros to the house of Wilfred D’lima, a drummer par excellence who played at a night club called Ali Baba near the Gateway of India. Wilfie, I said, you have to teach me to play the drums! Seeing my enthusiasm and sensing my passion, Wilfred took me under his wings” recalls Bashir and the rest, as they say, is history.

Bashir Sheikh rose to become one of India’s best known and still remembered drummers and showman.
“My one regret is that the man who taught me, never got to see his pupil play. Weeks before my first gig, Wilfred’s life was cut short in a scooter accident. It’s a tragedy I could not get over for years to come. I still have the 14” cymbal that he gave me. I don’t own a kit anymore but I have held on to that cymbal”, reminisces Bashir.

The Savages gained popularity and were soon performing at gigs big and small all over town. The band, back then, mostly performed covers of The Shadows, The Ventures, Cliff Richard, The Beatles, Elvis and also standards by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and the ever-popular, Jim Reeves whose songs were rendered to near perfection by Bombay’s Jim Reeves (as he was called), Tony Borges.

In late ’66, early ’67, Lenny quit the band to focus on his business aspirations. “ I recall telling Len to stay on assuring him that one day we would make it big! I didn’t know then just how big”, say Bashir with a smile.

1967 saw the birth of The Savages that thousands remember even today after more than four decades!
A young guitarist, Hemant Rao, replaced Lenny Cason. To say that Hemant was a genius would be an understatement! Not only was this guy fast on the gat but was also brilliant at composing catchy instrumentals. Hemant’s compositions included, “East goes West”, “Pio”(after the band’s bassist, Pio Manzi), “Changa” (after rhythm guitarist, Clifford Lee),”Pain” and “Bashful Bash” (after drummer boy, Bashir).

Another shuffle was on the cards as somewhere in late ’67, both Pio and Clifford left for distant shores. Destiny was again playing its hand and in came two of Hemant’s school pals, Ralph Pais on bass guitar and Prabhakar Mundkur on keyboards, and vocals, “ both brilliant musicians and great guys” says Bashir with a sense of pride. From then up until this day, Hemant, Ralph, Prabhakar and Bashir have stuck together through thick and thin more as friends than musicians
The Savages also discovered a fabulous voice in singer and showman, Russell Pereira. If any one could hit the high notes with ease, it was Russell. His rendition of the classic, “Long Tall Sally” from the band’s first album (The Savages Live), is testimony to the singer’s range and prowess!

With this line up viz, Hemant Rao (Lead Guitar), Ralph Pais (Bass), Prabhakar Mundkur (Keyboards & Vocals) Russell Pereira (Vocals) and Bashir Sheikh (Drums & vocals), The Savages became a formidable force to reckon with on the music scene of the time. The band underwent a sea change in terms of sound, image, presentation and stage presence! Besides covers that included songs like, 40,000 Headmen, Black Knight, Born To Be Wild, Day Tripper, Bad Moon Rising,, Fire And Rain, Highway Star, I Shot The Sheriff, I’m A Believer, Knock On Wood, Dock Of The Bay, Ohio, Midnight Hour, Proud Mary, Sex Machine Southern Man, Long Tall Sally, You’ve Got A friend and many more including the band’s signature tune, Savage. The band also came to be seen as the only group at the time that played their own compositions. The sole credit of this unique feature goes to Hemant!

1967&1968 were the “onslaught” years. Besides playing at gigs, discotheques such as Blow-Up at The Taj, Hell at Hotel Hilltop, Night Clubs/restaurants such as Venice, Gazebo, Talk of The Town (now known as, Not Just Jazz By The Bay) and Five Star hotels,The Savages also participated in all-India music competitions. Beat groups as bands were then called, from across the length and breadth of the country vied with one another to take part in these prestigious contests sponsored by big industrial houses. One such sponsor was ITC. (Indian Tobacco Company
After Preliminary zonal elimination rounds, held in various cities, the finalists converged upon Bombay to perform at the grand finale at Shanmukhananda Hall, Matunga – the then premiere auditorium and considered Asia’s largest indoor auditorium with a seating capacity of 3000!

Two of the biggest contests those days were The Simla Beat contest and The Sound Trophy contest. The former was sponsored by ITC and a girl’s college, Nirmala Niketan, organized the latter.
It was at The Sound Trophy, 1967 that The Savages, considered the underdogs, walked away with both, the “Best Performance” and the “Best Original Composition” awards - two beautifully sculptured “Sound” trophies plus a cash prize of rupees two thousand, a princely sum in 1967! That was not all. As part of the winnings, the band also won a recording contract with The Gramophone Company of India, better known by its label, HMV. The band recorded their debut single, which featured a cover version of ………and an original composition, “Pain”. Incidentally, this recording also featured Asha Puthli who later went on to be signed up by CBS, America. The recording of the Single was history in the making, as The Savages became the first Indian band of western musicians to cut a professional record.[RP4]

“It was a tough contest,” recalls Hemant. “We were up against some of the best bands. To name a few there were, The Junkies, The Mystics, Beat Four, The Silencers, Mascots, Atomic Forest, Combustibles, Riot Squad, Waterfront, People and many more. Not only were these guys good musicians who were better equipped in terms of foreign amplifiers, speakers, guitars etc., but they also could afford some expensive stage outfits! No wonder we were nowhere in the running for the “winners” as far as the crowd was concerned!

For amplifiers, we had “home-made” 60 watts and home assembled speakers. Prabh had a “Philip’s organ, I had a Sardar Flute guitar, Ralph, a bass guitar that worked and Bashir an old Premiere kit,” continues Hemant. “And as though that was not enough” pitches in Ralph, “ to add to our misery, we could not afford sexy outfits like the other bands! It was Hemant who picked up four multicolored vests- the type that ‘bhaiyas’wore? He bought them for ten rupees (all four!) from a place called Kala Chowki. For trousers we all wore our old black pants and there we were, the worst dressed band on stage. But what we lacked in appearance, sound systems and gear, we made up in our music the rest, you know!” concludes Ralph with a big, broad grin.

The following year-1968, the band did an encore by bagging the Sound Trophy for the second year in succession.. This time round they took home the award for “Best Composition” conceding the “Best Performance” by a slender margin of votes to a Bangalore group, The Silencers.

From then on, everybody was talking about “The Savages”. There was not a single show in town that did not feature the band. Beat Shows (as they were then called), Night Clubs, private parties, School/college functions, Christmas/New year eve balls, you name it and The Savages were there enthralling audiences who couldn’t get enough! Some of the places that the band was regularly seen at were, Venice (Hotel Astoria, Churchgate Talk of the Town (Not Just Jazz By The Bay), Gazebo, Sun’n’Sand Hotel, The Blow Up (Taj Mahal Hotel), Navy Balls (year after year). The band also had the privilege of performing on board The INS Vikrant, India’s first aircraft carrier! Another major event was the Woodstock Festival, a 3-day event at Malavli. That was around 1972!
Another show, which the band particularly remembers, is one held at Shanmukhananda Hall. The show takes on special significance as it was the first time that, while the band played, there was, (what they back then called them) a “go-go girl” dancing inside a large cage! But this was no ordinary go-go girl! She was none other than the gorgeous, Protima Bedi.
“Not only was Protima a wonderful and sensuous dancer, but was also a loveable human being”, reminisces Hemant. Mr. Kabir Bedi may or may not recall this, but we were the ones who introduced Protima to him. May she rest in peace”.

And in the midst of all the hectic show activity, the band, one day, received a frantic call from the A&R Head of HMV, Mr. V.K.Dubey. He wanted The Savages to urgently record a cover version of the song, “Simon Says” which was the raging hit world over, including India. “That was one song we never performed as every other band was doing it as part of their repertoire”, recalls Bashir. So, overnight, the band got its act together, rehearsed all evening and the next morning were in the HMV studios recording “Simon Says”. The single was an instant hit “Quite honestly, not because it was a great recording but more so because the original was not available in India yet”, says Prabhakar who sang the song.

1968 saw The Savages on an all-India tour as backing band for American teen idol and pop singer, Sajid Khan, son of the legendary filmmaker, Mehboob Khan. Sajid whilst schooling in America had made quite a splash as teen idol in the States and was in India for a concert tour sponsored by Eve’s Weekly. The hottest group in town was The Savages and Eve’s Weekly approached the band.

Soon, The Savages and Sajid were on the road to a five-city tour, which included, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Chandigadh and Bombay. The shows were a hit everywhere. Sajid was more a showman than a singer but with The Savages as his backing band, he was quite a hit with the young girls who swooned and swayed with the good-looking singer The band too did its own sets in between and were well received.” It was a memorable experience for us”, says Ralph. The Tour was a huge success, well promoted and extensively covered by Eve’s Weekly and the media giving The Savages phenomenal mileage.

NOTE: To elaborate on our Delhi, Chandigadh experiences with the models as suggested by Hemant. Also somewhere we got to mention about Usha Uthup ( Iyer then) singing with the band.

A couple of months into the band’s return from the tour, Russell quit the band but not before the band had recorded it’s first long-play album, “The Savages Live” for Polydor of India. Russell’s rendition of the classic, “Long Tall Sally” could even today, give one the goose bumps! So, how did it (the album) happen

The story goes that the group was performing at The Blow Up, a swank discotheque, and the best, housed in the Taj Mahal Hotel, Bombay. It was the hot spot to which the elite of the metropolis thronged night after night letting their hair down and freaking out to some of the latest, grooviest recorded music blasted from the DJ’s booth on speakers that could handle thousands of watts of power! The atmosphere at the Blow Up was electrifying with strobe and psychedelic lights flashing with the music and the ultra violet lighting that high lighted all the whites, be they skimpy white dresses or teeth that gleamed in the dark.
Twice during the night, the resident band would take the stage for a live performance. It was one of those nights while The Savages were on stage doing their thing when in walked Siegfried Wagner, M.D. of the newly launched German record company, Polydor of India. Impressed by the band’s raw energy and hip sound, Wagner signed up the band and soon thereafter, The Savages were in the studios recording their first album, which was to be called, The Savages Live. It was so called to give a “Live” touch to the recording even though it was a studio recording. That was how Polydor wished to market it and The Savages were not complaining! The album was mastered in Germany at the company’s mastering plant in Hamburg and created quite a sensation upon its release in India, late ’69.

“The Savages Live” marked yet another milestone in the band’s history. Strangely, very recently, forty years after its release, somebody (probably a maniacal fan of the group), put up the album on his site for sale. Any guesses what was the price tag? A staggering 6000 Euros! Now, is that a compliment or is that a compliment?!
With Russell quitting to take up a more steady and lucrative offer as singer with a reputed dance band, The Savages continued with Hemant, Ralph, Prabhakar and Bashir taking up the additional responsibility of vocals and doing a great job at it too. In fact it was this line up which, in the summer of ’69 signed an extended contract to play at Trincas, the most happening night club of Calcutta.

From their opening night at the Trincas, The Savages endeared themselves to the warm, knowledgeable (in terms of music), and friendly audience of Calcutta. In those days there were many Anglo-Indian families in Calcutta who loved music and how!

The band was accompanied by their manager, Firdaus Enayti, a six-foot gentle giant, quick witted and passionate to the point of madness when it came to the interest of the band! The Savages could not have asked for a more dedicated and “pushy” manager. Says Prabhakar, “Firdaus was truly a pillar to lean on. Not only would he use his wit to get the best deals for the group but also when push came to shove, he used his six- foot frame to settle issues! Recalling a particularly funny episode from the past, Ralph narrates this incident; “ It was one of the many beat shows and as usual, there was always a debate over a band wanting to play last or way down from the top. An argument ensued between Firdaus and Ashok Dharyanani, manager of The Junkies, another good band and professional rival of The Savages. There were several bands but the argument centered on these two top contenders as to which would be the closing Act. Finally, after much “Tu tu main main”, Ashok made the mistake of telling Firdaus, “why don’t you guys admit that you’ll are scared! To his utter shock, Firdaus stumped Ashok by saying, “ okay, I admit we are scared, so you go on first!” And The Savages played last. End of story”, laughs Ralph.

Coming back to the band’s month and a half stint at Trincas, the boys (that’s what they were back then) declare that they were the best six weeks ever! Recounting their many experiences, they can’t get over this one!

The group had been fore-warned before even setting foot on the train to Cal, about an all-girl ‘gang’ known as ‘Vampires’ who cornered visiting bands each one picking the band member of her choice to ‘hang’ out with during the contract term. As a result, no other girl outside this group could come near a member of the band unless she wanted to pay dearly for the mistake! And this, according to reports, was no empty threat!

The Savages decided to “teach” the Vampires a lesson they would never forget. So, when the band arrived in Cal, sure enough, they made a beeline for the boys. To their shock and surprise, the boys played it cool and refused to play “ball”. As pre-planned, they completely ignored the girls’ overtures that, in all fairness, were not bad looking at all! Guess what? Within a week the Vampires in their frustration, had branded The Savages as homosexuals! “That was simply hilarious” recall the boys.

Talking of homosexuals, the boys discovered that Calcutta, even as far back as 1969, was quite open to gay culture. At first, it did not dawn upon the lads from Bombay but on meeting and getting to know a gay couple, Brian and Peter, they figured that gay culture was a normal and accepted way of life for Calcuttans. In fact, when Bashir was seen exiting the club with a girl, Brian called out to her, “Barbara, save some of Bashir for me”! Did she? That’s a question only Barbara can answer. Bashir refused to comment
The Savages were a serious group when it came to their music. Proof of their dedication to their profession lay in the fact that when other bands would call it a day after a night’s performance, The Savages preferred to stay back at Trincas long after the patrons had all left and the shutters were downed. The reason? Practice. Yes, these guys believed in practice and time was never a barrier! Of course, there were perks too.
With practice done was (by around 1/1.30 AM), the foursome would indulge in some pastry flicking! That’s right. While Bashir kept the burly Sikh watchman occupied in small talk, Ralph, Prabh and Hemant would help themselves to some yummy pastries which the guys, including Bashir, would hog on the way back to their diggings, a spacious flat opposite St Xavier’s college up Park Street.
Making it in time for breakfast the morning after was out of the question so the boys would come around noon and call for “brunch”- breakfast and lunch together. “Well, when you’re young, you can down just about anything”, says Prabhakar who, besides Ralph, was the big eater in the group. He was also the youngest.
Then there’s the story of Francis Frazer (no relation to Joe Frazer!), a cabaret/strip tease artiste from Byculla, Bombay. Francis, arguably, had the sexiest pair of legs in town and when he (should we say, ‘she’) did the “Strip Tease”, he had the Greek sailors drooling all over the floor. For some strange reason, Francis had the ‘hots’ for Hemant, which suited the others, as they wanted none of Francis – especially after his jaunts the night before with some horny Greek sailor! Of course, Hemant too would have nothing to do with it but it was quite hilarious! “ I think Francis just loved teasing Hemant and was really quite harmless”, says Bashir.
“And what about Sunder”? Asks Ralph. Sunder was a good friend of the band- so good that while the band was on stage, he would sneak out to their pad to make out with some chick and in the process would mess up the sheets. Something had to be done thought the boys. So, one day, they removed several planks from Sunder’s “favorite” bed restoring the mattress to rest on just the extreme side planks. “That was the last time Sunder went over to our pad,” says Ralph. Incidentally, Sunder’s favorite bed was Ralph’s! It was fun and all had a good laugh…. even Sunder.
And then there was this incident when Ralph, Prabhakar and Bashir got sozzled on a crateful of beer and to make matters worse, had pulled some of the forbidden stuff- charas! Man, was that a lethal combination? And what a crazy night it turned out to be! Getting into one of Calcutta’s famous hand-drawn rickshaws, Prabh said, “ghar chalo” (take us home). The poor chap asked, “Saab, ghar kahan hai”? (Sir, where is home’?) To which Bashir said, “ghar ghar par hai” (“home is where home is”). All this was happening around 3 in the morning! “Somehow, we got home, don’t ask me how” says Ralph. Some an experience that was!
There was also the incident where Joshua was invited to our room. To our surprise he did accept and so Prabs, Bash and Ralph rushed back to the room to tidy up while Hemant walked back with Josh after about 10 minutes.. Of course Hemant goes straight to his cupboard and opens it and whoooosh --- a whole pile of used clothes, which had been piled, into the cupboard straight on the ground – what a laugh.
Joshua was very fond of the band and never failed to offer the boys goodies. One blazing afternoon, he asked Bashir to his house, a sprawling bungalow in the compound where the band was accommodated. Prabhakar accompanied Bashir.
Joshua opened his refrigerator, removed a large bowl of chilled ‘leechies’and gave them to Bashir and Prabhakar saying, “That’s for you and the boys”. Thanking him, the two left. But did they take the leechies straight to Ralph and Hemant waiting in the flat? Oh no! Temptation and mischief got the better of them. Sitting on the steps of Joshua, the “devils” gobbled up almost half the bowl of, “The largest, juiciest leechies we had ever seen”! They then took the bowl to Ralph and Hemant and (hold your breath!) went on to take a share from the remaining leechies too! Poor Ralph and Hemant. If only they had known the trick played on them.
There are loads of fond memories of Calcutta- New Market, Freeschool Street, Bentinck Street, Firpo’s, wild parties, great friends of both sexes who stayed in touch years after the band’s return to Bombay from the City of Joy!
“The Cal experience remains by far the best we’ve ever had. People were friendly. There was no malice, no jealousy. Even the” Vampires” were cool once they had recovered from their initial shock of being turned down. They even realized that we were normal guys and not homos! By the end of our contract we had some great girl friends!
Our music was loved and Trincas was packed every single night of the one and a half month that we were there. So much so that on our farewell performance, we had people literally in tears. It was a touching scene as we sang an improvised version of the Beatles’ song, “ So long, farewell, we hate to say good bye………...”
The impact and impression we made on Calcutta was reflected in an article of the “Junior Statesman” headlined, THE GENTLEMEN SAVAGES. The owners of Trincas, Mr. Joshua and Mr. Puri too showed their appreciation by having a special cake cut at the farewell show and also gave each of us a letter of thanks and appreciation which said we were welcome to Trincas any time we visited Cal in the future! What more could a bunch of young musicians ask for?
Shortly after the band’s return from Cal, lead guitarist, Hemant left for Dubai to seek his fortune and find it he did but not without a long struggle. He is happily married to his childhood sweetheart, Dolly. They have two wonderful, well-raised daughters and shuttle between Dubai, the US and Canada. Success has not changed Hemant. Even today, whenever he is with his buddies, Ralph, Prabhakar and Bashir, it’s like old times. Friends forever!
Hemant’s exit opened the doors for Remo to join the band. Remo was in Bombay to study architecture at The Sir J.J. School of Arts in Bombay. In his own words: “I was just out of high school in Goa at the time. I had my own band in Goa, and we invariably won all the awards at Simla Beat Competitions there: The Best Performance, Best Original Composition, Best lead guitarist, Best singer, etc etc… but it was something else altogether to be invited to join a nationally renowned band like The Savages, a band I looked up to back home in Goa.
We used to play their record ‘Simple Simon Says’ at our parties, and at the time, any band who actually cut a record was up there sitting beside God the Father Himself” says Remo.
Remo proved to be a worthy successor to Hemant. Besides being a talented guitarist, Remo was an excellent singer too. So, between Remo, Prabhakar and Bashir, the Savages had a formidable line up of singers. Besides, Remo was a composer as well with literally, dozens of compositions under his belt by the time he joined The Savages. Some of his works found their way onto a disc he cut during his short, but eventful stint with the band.
The recording, an E.P. (extended play) featured Remo singing a cover of the Jose Feliciano hit, ‘Old Turkey Buzzard’ and two of his own compositions, ‘Ode To The Messiah’ and ‘The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes’ [no prizes for guessing that Remo was an ardent Beatles fan]. The recording was released by Polydor and was a big hit.
With Remo, The Savages continued their “onslaught” playing scores of shows in Bombay as well as on Remo’s home turf in Goa.
One of the memorable shows was at the Eros cinema, Bombay, where The Savages were given the honor to a curtain raiser performance to mark the screening of the movie, Woodstock. The band rocked, closing the show with a scintillating cover of Santana’s ‘Soul Sacrifice’, with Remo’s scorching guitar and Bashir’s thundering drums blowing the hall away.
After a year or two with The Savages, Remo quit the band as the architecture course, in pursue of which he had come to Bombay, was now entering into its crucial years and required all of Remo’s attention. Besides, the band’s long-term contracts with Bombay’s leading venues such as ‘Hell’, ‘Blow Up’, ‘Talk of the Town’, etc were sometimes preventing him from returning to his beloved Goa during the holidays.
“I had forgone a Christmas and New Year holiday in Goa one year to stay back in Bombay and perform at the Talk of the Town. That’s when one of India’s wars with Pakistan started, and Bombay was a depressing place to be in, with war induced black-outs in the night snuffing out its already dim street lamps and car headlights. One night we walked out of the Talk of the Town into the darkened city, only to see anti-aircraft fire and flares being shot into the black sky. Up in the distance we could see silhouettes of Pakistani aircraft trying to bomb the city. I somehow remember that night as a turning point, the night when I asked myself what I was doing under gunfire in Bombay, instead of being under starlight in Goa? I packed my bag and left the next day, and spent the rest of my holiday in Goa. I remember Bashir was quite upset for a while, but that didn’t last long.”
“We parted as friends”, says Bashir. “You can’t hold back someone when his heart lies elsewhere and Remo’s heart clearly was (and still is to this day) in Goa.”
“But I had great fun with the band too” says Remo. “I remember sometimes we’d open up the friendly Irani restaurant near Bashir’s house in the middle of the night after a gig, and after a couple of beers, Bashir would start calling up random numbers from the old coin phone. When a very tired and sleepy voice finally answered at the other end, Bashir would ask in a very soft and concerned tone, ‘Hello, are you awake?’ The poor unsuspecting victim would mumble ‘Yes…’ Then, with the rest of the band’s uncontrollable laughter in the background, Bashir would scream ‘Why are you awake at 3 a.m., you moron? You should be fast asleep!’ and slam the phone down.”
“Yes, we were terrible.”
With all the changes happening, any other band would have called it a day but not The Savages. Oh no! Ralph, Prabhakar and Bashir were made of stuff that they don’t make anymore! Determined to carry on, the trio with Ralph on Bass, the rock steady Bashir on drums & vocals and Prabhakar, in a reversal of roles, on lead guitar & vocals, exploded at the ‘L’-shaped hall at Carmel Convent, Bandra, stunning the audience with a mind-blowing performance!
After that show, Ralph and Bashir called on Barry Murray inviting him to join the band as lead guitarist. Barry was (and still is), a man of few words. But what he lacks in words, he more than makes up in his virtuosity on the guitar. Barry let his guitar do the talking.
In one of his rare disclosures, Barry confesses that he could not believe it that he was being asked to be part of The Savages but, not wanting to show his excitement, asked to be given time to consider. He came on board the very next day!
On the tail of Barry, came a singer whose voice belied his size. Joseph Alvares, a scrawny lad (then, not today) from Thana, had the most powerful, in-built ‘amplification system’ in his voice box! So much so that Bashir would quip, “ Joe, you sing from Thana while we rehearse our parts in Dockyard”. Dockyard Road is where the band practiced in Bashir’s house.
Not too long after Barry and Joe came on board The Savages recorded their second album, “Black Scorpio”. The album, recorded and released by Polydor, featured covers of several international hits such as ‘Whipping Post, 40,000 Headmen, Immigrant Song ……………………………………as well as a couple of the band’s own compositions. Bashir designed the album’s unique cover depicting a black scorpion punched out in a silver flap. The album received critical acclaim and sold a round 5000 copies, considered big sales at the time. The year was 1972.
A year later and many successful concerts across the country, The Savages joined forces with The Brief Encounter. The amalgamation led to the birth of The Savage Encounter.
Despite the undeniable success of the Savage Encounter, The Savages continue to live in the memories of thousands who were part of that era, an era that produced one of India’s greatest bands…. THE SAVAGES.

The Savages could not have made it to where they did without the selfless help of so many. The band would like to acknowledge their contributions and the part played in their success:
Wilfred D’lima: for teaching Bashir the art of playing drums and for gifting him the prized 14” crash cymbal!
Fazal Sheikh: for the rupees 600.00 a princely amount in 1965 with which Bashir got his first drum set.
Also for designing and building the sturdy, heavy-duty 60 watts (RMS) amplifiers and the speaker systems and constructing, from scrap, the band’s first reverb unit!
Pierino Manzi (Pio): for assisting Fazal in building the amplifiers.
Firdaus Enayti: for being a good friend and a great Manager.
Lenny Cason’s mum, dad and sisters Elaine and Sandra: for the band’s first place of practice, their home in Anderson House, Dockyard and for their hospitality.
Bashir Sheikh’s mum and dad: for their patience, support and tolerating the “noise” in the name of practice and for the endless cups of tea, snacks etc.
Prabhakar’s mum, dad and grandma: for putting up or rather enjoying the band’s cacophony during practice at their home in Beach Croft, Shivaji Park and for all the pampering with all the goodies at tea time! Also for painstakingly cutting and saving the many press clippings.
Shankar and Dinkar: for safely and efficiently transporting the band and its gear to and fro venues in a dilapidated van that was actually used for transporting fish!
Vispy, Kishore, Arvind, Dhiren, Trudy, Nahid, Anita, Nancy: for their loyalty and for being the band’s die-hard fans, mascots and supporters till the end. A special word of thanks to Dhiren and his hard-core hippy friends for all the music that they provided the band.
And last but not the least, a big ‘thank you’ to the countless fans that screamed their lungs out in support of the band at every concert.

Note: May be we should list all the songs/instrumentals that the band performed over the years. We must include stuff like, Zorba, Spanish Gysy Dance, Fistful…..,Harper Valley PTA, Sixteen Tons


  1. Am old Calcuttite from the late sixties living in the US. Any hope of JS archives getting digitized?

    1. anybody got an extra copy of the savages -pain 45 ? i'm looking for a copy

  2. got the savages - live lp. its pretty good. !!

  3. most exhaustive info here.... any chance to hear the Old Turkey Buzzard EP in better audio quality that the Youtube rip? (keep on digging and thx for your efforts!)

    1. The pressing of the EP was of poor quality as it is, so there's no chance one could make a good sounding rip of it, but if you mean just as good as the EP was, you can still buy the original online. (Yes, the prices have gone sky high after all these years)

  4. Wonderful read Thank you for the mention
    Those were the days

  5. Wonderful read Thank you for the mention
    Those were the days

  6. I had the LP way back then .Any chance of getting it on mp3?

    1. Both LPs were reissued as a compilation CD few years ago. You can get it on Discogs and rip it to mp3 from it.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Thank you Ralph for the interesting write-up :)

  9. Hi Ralf,
    every word you put down here comes straight out of your heart. felt it. Met Bashir in the the mid 90's at crescendo music and then worked with him for two and half years. Have seen you around, but next time will come up and talk to you.
    Shekhar Kusuma