Barrence Whitfield

Barrence WhitfeildOriginally hailing from the wilds of New Jersey, when vocalist Barry White headed for Boston to attend college, he had no intention of playing music. Thankfully, he ran head-on into guitarist Peter Greenburg, who’d done time with seminal proto-punk combos the Customs, DMZ and the Lyres and the idea of forsaking music for college was immediately shelved. Forging a connection between punk rock’s early rock ‘n’ roll roots and jump R&B’s visceral energy, White became Barrence Whitfield and Greenburg, along with Real Kids drummer Howie Ferguson and several similarly rockin’ musical cohorts, became the Savages. Whitfield’s vocals and onstage antics drew on screamers like Esquerita, Big Sambo, Little Richard and Smiley Lewis for inspiration and the Savages released their first—and most incendiary—slab of vinyl in 1984. It contained stand-out originals like Greenburg’s “Whiskey Wagon” and “Ship Sailed At Six,” as well as immortal classics like “Go Ahead And Burn” and, of course, “Mama Get The Hammer (The Fly’s On The Baby’s Head).” With a nod to the Bayou State, it was pressed on Mamou Records and wound up becoming a classic of the ages, paving the way for similarly influenced combos like the Uptown Rhythm Kings, and later, the Useless Playboys and the Royal Crown Revue. Further Savages’ line-ups produced albums such as Ow! Ow! Ow! (which contained guitarist Ben Vaughn’s great “Apology Line”) and Live Emulsified! Recently, Whitfield has been exploring both the country and jazz fields, but still dons his turban and delivers his trademark full-on visceral assault when the need arises.

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