Drummer who said no to the Stones

Now he's at Wembley - selling burgers, says Russell Newmark

THE Rolling Stones' tour reaches Wembley Stadium in August, a poignant choice of venue for Sixties drummer Carlo Little.

Carlo played a few shows with the Stones before Charlie Watts arrived on the scene - but decided there were better prospects working with Screaming Lord Sutch.

Nowadays Carlo, who is 59, sells hot dogs and burgers from a catering trailer in the shadow of Wembley Stadium.

But the man who once gave the young Keith Moon some drumming lessons just before he sprang to fame with The Who, remains philosophical about his split with the Stones. "It was the right thing to do at the time," says Carlo, who was a military drummer during his National Service period.

Carlo came to the fore as a founder member of Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages. He later reached further prominence with Cyril Davies and his Rhythm and Blues All-Stars. But, right at the end of 1962, he was invited to play three or four dates with a new group calling themselves The Rolling Stones.

"People came up to me and said `what the hell are you doing playing with this mob?'," he recalls. "They were seeing me - the pro-drummer, well- respected - playing with young lads who, at that time, didn't really know what they were doing."

Carlo remembers turning down an offer to stay on for some more dates - seeing a chance to return to the Sutch band as a better option. "More gigs were coming in with Sutch, and the money was about three times as much. I suggested that they have a look at a drummer called Charlie Watts. I said `try Charles - because I can't do it'. And that was the most stupid thing I've ever said!"

Since early 1963, the nearest Carlo has come to any of the Rolling Stones was the time he saw Mick Jagger backstage at a Wembley show in the Seventies. He was too embarrassed to go up to him and say hello.

There has been much in the way of irony in the Carlo Little story. It was after a Sutch gig at Wembley Town Hall that a local youngster called Keith Moon approached him and asked for some drumming lessons. Carlo remembers Keith coming round to his home nearby for about half a dozen two-hour lessons at 10 shillings (50p) a time.

"I never saw him again until I caught him on the telly with The Who and they were in the charts. I went `bloody hell - I'm still farting about and they're on the telly and in the charts'."

Meanwhile Carlo became a delivery driver and then a telephone engineer, before running a greengrocer's shop with Nick Simper, who'd left Deep Purple after three albums. Eventually Carlo spent 15 years as a bread salesman, getting up in the early hours to drive a bakery van.

Carlo still keeps his drums, packed in their cases, in a six-bedroom, detached house at Wembley Park, and he admits he does have a few regrets.

"I'm a little bit sorry about it, because I know I was well- regarded as a drummer among musicians. It comes a little hard, and you think `if I was that well-respected, how come I never got anywhere?' How do you think I feel when I see Charlie up there tapping away?"

But Keith Moon is dead, and many others have fallen victim to rock and roll excesses. Carlo says: "That's one thing about all this. I've got a nice life, I don't want for anything, and I'm alive. I'm happy with my life."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high