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Topic: RIP Carlo Little ==> Read interview, listen his drumming and some more Return to archive
August 7th, 2005 03:50 PM
Chris Diemoz People,

Carlo Little, one of the first drummers and friends of the Stones, and starring character of the sixties in Britain, passed away satuday 6th august, casualty of a lung cancer that he'd been fighting for the last two years.

I've not much to say, the news left me speechless. I interviewed him in 2001, and his kindness, availability and honesty in speaking about what, nowadays, can be considered the "biggest mistake" of a life, really left me speechless.

Please, have a thought for him. I'll paste the story I wrote after the interview, hope it'll light on memories in the ones who knew him, and will help the one who didn't to understand how special he was.

Should you desire to leave a condoleances message, please do so on the guestbook at, owned by his daughter Giselle.

Ciao and thanks,


Former Savages drummer tells about his days with Brian, Mick and Keith

Carlo Little: Rollin’ Stone for three nights

By Christian Diemoz

Not every dude rocking in London’s mist during the sixties became familiar with/to the warm embrace of the twin dreams of fame and money. Some were never caressed by the hands of such a fate, while others, who once brushed up against it, simply choose to go their own way—never to transform the dreams of many into a reality of their own. Carlo Little, a name belonging to the first wave of British r’n’r groups (he seated behind the drum of The Savages and The Cyril Davis All Stars), followed the latter path. Forty years later and the word “regret” is not in his vocabulary. Rather, he chooses to recall with passion that wonderful season of his life when he received the call of fortune and fame, but kindly rejected. The call, of course, came from the Rolling Stones.

It was the beginning of 1963 and the Stones had just started to roll across England. This should be a familiar introduction to a story even more familiar to fans of the band born at the Marquee club, but it is also the introduction a story rarely related and certainly never committed to paper. To hear Little tell it, “Brian, Keith, Mick and Ian Stewart used to come and see the band I was with, the Cyril Davis band. They liked us. All the musicians in that group were excellent. They were just starting. They were learning, you know, by seeing different people, different bands. During the interval, we used to speak about new records. So, we got to know them and, one day, Brian asked me ‘Would you and Rick [Fenson] do some gigs with the Stones? We haven’t got a permanent drummer’”.

Prompted by their friendship, Carlo gladly accepted to lend the group a helping hand. So, along with bassist Ricky Fenson (Bill Wyman was a part of the band at this point, but due to work engagements he was forced to miss some nights), he sat in with the band for three London gigs. Two shows took place at the Flamingo Jazz Club (January 14th and 21st) and one at Richmond’s Sandover Hall (Januyary 19th). “The concerts,” remembers Carlo, “were made [up of] Brian, Mick, Keith and us. Sometimes Ian was on piano, but mainly it was without him. He was the driver of the van they had at that time”. It is easy for one to assume that the Rollin’ Stones—as they then spelled their name—could not believe their good fortune; an experienced drummer who shared their musical tastes was available. For the Stones it was a dream turned reality. For Carlo, it was a dream that would have to stay as such. “After a week or two, Brian said, ‘look, we’d like you to stay in the band.’” Honest and kind as always, he sincerely answered: “I can’t stay, because I need to earn a living. I’m professional and you’re just semi-professionals, so you’re gonna get one gig a month, or so... It’s difficult to earn on that basis”.

Obviously, Little, had no inkling of the kind of success that would greet the Stones in the near future. England’s musical scene at that time was comprised of a couple of big shots—Alexis Korner being at the scene’s apex—that surrounded themselves with dozens of newly formed bands. We now know that the Rolling Stones would go on to become a revolutionary force in rock n’ roll, but back then, the combo founded by Brian Jones was just another band. However, no band is complete without a drummer and the Stones were still in desperate need. And, while Carlo Little could not lend the Stones his service, he did lend his advice. “Brian asked [me]: ‘What about Charlie Watts, so?’ I replied,” recalls Little, “‘Yeah, he’s starting like you. Just try him.’ So they did, and the rest is history.”

Aside from the brief meeting on 23rd April 1963, in which Little and Fenson agreed to replace Charlie and Bill—who had to work—at an audition on the BBC’s only R&B program, the “Jazz Club,” Carlo Little would not cross paths with the Stones for many years. The audition, which included renditions of “I’m A Hog For You Baby” and “I’m Moving On”, was taped, but it never aired because the station manager, David Dore, felt that “the singer sound[ed] too black.”

That’s all for the historical record, but fans will be delighted to know that Carlo still harbors fond memories of his brief time with the Stones. “Brian must have been a good spokesman,” tells Little, “because he had nice and pleasant manners. He used to do all the phoning, talking to agents, to companies and things like that. He was the leader, really.” Talking about the band’s live show, Little remembers that it was Mick’s stage presence and Keith’s solid playing that stood out most. Other memories include morsels about lives shows played together. Little reminisces, “We played two sets of quite an hour each, with an intermission. About the setlist, I remember doing ‘Memphis, Tennessee’ with them. We’ve been the first to perform that tune”. But it’s about Jones that Carlo retains the clearest memories. “One day, after a gig, we went back to the house in Edith Groove. It was a terrible, awful place. A hell of a mess! We just played a few records. They had no money at all, they neither had enough money for food. So, Brian said ‘look, I need some money. I’ve got a few albums to sell’”. The offer primarily concerned LPs from Little’s favourite artist, Johnny Cash. “I looked the album and said: ‘Yeah, that’s not a bad album’. He asked me for ten schillings. He really loved that music, but he needed money to buy food”.

Once the curtain went down on the sixties, Little started to learn about the Stones solely from the television or newspapers. Then, thirty-five years later, fate, of another kind, knocked on his door. “An independent company phoned me: ‘look, we want to film you while you see the Stones, in Paris. We’ll take you there on Eurostar’. I said: ‘Fine, but I don’t want to go without my wife. I’ll take a cut in the money, I don’t wanna go on my own. I think she deserves to go’”. Once in Paris, the filming began unbeknownst to the Stones. “We went to the hotel where the Stones were staying. I went in, took a look around, and came out. That was for the film cameras. Then, I said ‘Did you tell anybody I’m here?’. They said: ‘No, we can’t get to any of the Stones road managers, managers, agents, anything... you know?’. I said: ‘I told you, it’s not to break bread with the Rolling Stones’”. The trip in Paris, sadly, seemed near its end.

The day after, while Carlo and the film crew were having lunch before boarding the Eurostar, he remembers that the “director switched the camera on, we were eating, and said ‘Carlo, I haven’t told you, but I got in to see Ronnie Wood manager... and he gave us five VIP tickets for you and the crew. We’re gonna see the Stones tonight at the Stade’. So, my wife started crying and the film was going...”. To Little’s eyes, the Stade de France was the thing of dreams; 80.000 people all crowded together to see the Stones. After the show Little had to chance to join the band backstage. “We met them. I said to Keith: ‘do you fancy a drink after the show?’. ‘A drink?!... It’s Mick’s birthday, you’re coming to the party’. We went to the birthday party that night. We met Mick and the rest of them and that’s when I first met Ronnie Wood. He came over to me, and threw his arms around me, as if he knew me, but he didn’t knew me and I didn’t knew him”. All was explained when Ronnie revealed: “I was a little young boy, 15 or 16 years old, when my big brother came to take me to see you at the Railway Hotel. That’s what got me started... You had such a big, big influence on everybody”.

Today, Carlo shows no signs of regret for rejecting Brian’s offer a lifetime ago. When asked if he would have done anything different he answers affirmatively, but it has nothing to do with fame, fortune, or the offer he so graciously declined. Instead, he offers, “I played covers for too much time. I’d start before to write my own music”. And while Carlo Little, after those few early encounters, would never again share the stage with the band that has, by all accounts, changed rock n’ roll forever, he does share one thing with the boys—the ability to truthfully say that “rock’n’roll gave me the best years of my life”.
August 7th, 2005 05:39 PM
Gazza wow, thats sad news indeed. I'm sorry to hear about that.

It was great that Carlo finally got some recognition and publicity in his lifetime. I remember seeing him on TV a few times during the BTB tour about his early links with the Stones. He seemed a very nice guy.

I corresponded with Giselle a few years back around the time she'd set her website up. Its clear she was very proud of her dad.

RIP Carlo
August 7th, 2005 06:56 PM
VoodooChileInWOnderl This is really sad news, Carlo and his daughter corresponded directly with us and gave us a signifivant contributions to the Nicky Hopkins website, inclduing photos, anecdotes and facts.

Really sorry...
August 8th, 2005 05:04 PM
VoodooChileInWOnderl To honor Carlo I'm gonna show you some samples of his drumming, this is the first sample:

The original recordings of this songs are dated 1963, eighteen months after Cyril's death (July 1965) the "Cyril Davies' Allstars" tapes were re-recorded with the original members: Carlo Little on drums, Nicky Hopkins on Piano, Cliff Barton on bass, with the addition of Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on lead guitar. They recorded at least six tracks, which were later officially released in the "British Archive Series - Blues for Collectors Vol. Three [RCA LSP 4488(e)]

Carlo Little - Drums
Cyril Davis - Vocals / Harmonica
Nicky Hopkins - Piano
Cliff Barton - Bass
Jeff Beck - Guitar
August 8th, 2005 05:19 PM
VoodooChileInWOnderl Check this out, Carlo Little by IORR

Never Stop Rockin’
Review of Carlo Little’s solo album
based on a one-off unique demo version of the unreleased album
by Eddy Bonte
August 8th, 2005 06:13 PM
Tom Another goodbye to another good friend, so sad for this
August 8th, 2005 07:24 PM
gypsy Deepest sympathies to the family of Carlo Little. I'm sorry for your loss.

Voodoo, I sent you a file of Carlo's photos from
August 9th, 2005 02:13 PM
moy great readings thanks

"Carlo Little taught Keith Moon how to drum, Screaming Lord Sutch how to scream, and was in demand by many rock stars, including The Rolling Stones !"

rip carlo
August 10th, 2005 12:58 PM

RIP Carlo

RIP our friend Carlo Little

© Topfoto with thanks to Gypsy!
August 10th, 2005 01:12 PM
Monkey Woman Good idea, the Carlo Little tribute headers. RIP! The guy was one who could say "I was there, at the beginning..."

August 11th, 2005 10:37 AM
VoodooChileInWOnderl I agree, looks nice to see the board the day of the warm up show with Brian and Carlo on top

Carlo made a great contribution to the stones and was not the few gigs in 1962 but when he rejected the offer he did recommed Mr. Charlie Watts

Thanks Carlo

RIP Carlo

RIP our friend Carlo Little

© Topfoto with thanks to Gypsy!
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