Barrence Whitfield & The Savages
Back in 1983, Barry White (a.k.a. Barrence Whitfield) and Peter Greenberg were working at Nuggets, a record store, in Kenmore Square in Boston. Greenberg, who had previously played guitar in DMZ and The Customs, had recently quit his job playing guitar with Lyres and had begun to form an instrumental Rock n’ Roll band with ex-Lyres Phil Lenker on bass, Howie Ferguson (and Real Kids too) on drums. Once Barry White began some impromptu singing at the record store, Barrence Whitfield and the Savages took off—killing any idea of an instrumental group.The first iteration of the Savages went on to record two critically acclaimed, blockbuster LPs that combined the best of 50/60s rocking R&B with high-octane garage/punk. The first LP, Barrence Whitfield and the Savages was released on Mamou Records in 1984 and was re-released in 2010 on Ace Records with additional material. John Swenson wrote in the Ace liner notes “that in the dark days of the early 1980s… The Savages kept Rock n Roll alive.” The original Savages recorded a second LP in 1985, Dig Yourself on Rounder Records that also rocked in an Esquerita-like manner.
According to Andy Kershaw of the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test, “What positioned Barrence and the band way beyond any other rock’n’roll of the era was a unique marriage of Barrence’s personality and R&B shouter elan to the bounce and insolence of Peter Greenberg’s essentially rockabilly guitar style. With the addition of much ill-mannered saxophone, we have here a band which embodied the heart and soul of rock’n’roll.”
In 1986, Greenberg and Lenker moved on, and the original Savages disbanded soon after. Little did they know that this would be temporary. Thankfully, Barrence kept it alive over the years producing a wide-range of mighty-fine recorded output while continuing to tour worldwide and becoming internationally renowned for his wild performances.