Robert Plant, Paul Rodgers, Freddie Mercury, and Mick Jagger gets brought up when talking about great lead singers. I’ve had this conversation with friends and musicians. Who was the best rock bass player, guitar player, drummer, and lead singer?
Steve Marriott rarely gets brought up by anyone because he is sadly not remembered as well as he should be. I’ve listened to Marriott for years and the guy still amazes me. He could sing blues, R & B, Rock, and Pop. He could do anything because not only was he a great singer a good songwriter and he was a very good guitar player.
He influenced many singers from the 60s and beyond. Below is the Small Faces doing “You Need Lovin'” and I think Robert Plant was listening. This was before Zeppelin.
The Small Faces played Rock, R & B, and Blues music but what they are famous for are the two pop singles Itchycoo Park and Lazy Sunday. Marriott was upset about Lazy Sunday being released as a single because he’d recorded the song as a joke and it was released despite his objections. They are also known for one of the best albums of the sixties Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake. Q magazine placed Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake at number 59 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane wrote most of the album.
Because of bad management, a pop image, and a lack of a follow up to Ogedens’ Nut Gone Flake the Small Faces broke up. Marriott wanted to play harder music so he and Peter Frampton started a band called Humble Pie.
Humble Pie had some great songs but nothing really caught on with the masses. That’s not always a bad thing but they never had a big song identifiable to them as some other bands do. They did have four top twenty albums but were more known as a live band…check out Performance Rockin’ the Fillmore
Their manager was Dee Anthony who had connections with the Mob. Everything was ok until Steve wanted to know where the money was at. Marriott began openly questioning Anthony’s business practices, the singer was summoned to a meeting at a social club in New York’s Little Italy. According to Marriott’s ex-wife, among those in attendance were John Gotti and several other members of the Gambino crime family. Marriott was quietly persuaded to forget about any money he thought he had coming to him.
The Small Faces reunited, without Lane, between 1976-1978 but punk was taking over and they were not successful. In 1980 Humble Pie reunited but didn’t have much luck either.
In 1981 Steve and Ronnie Lane made an album together that wasn’t released until 2000 after both were passed away. It was called The Legendary Majik Mijits and I really like the recording. You can tell they recorded it in 1981 but it contains some hidden gems.
Steve played many club gigs in the 80s, some you can still see on youtube. In 1991 while working on an album with Peter Frampton he flew back home and went to sleep with a lit cigarette and died of smoke inhalation…he was 44 years old.
A sad ending to a performer who could have been huge. Perhaps if he would have lived longer he would have revived his career and been more remembered today.
Steve had a huge voice that came out of his 5 foot 5 frame. When Jimmy Page was looking for a singer for his new band Page had thought about Marriott but he was managed by the notorious Don Arden, who had reportedly responded by asking how well Page thought he would play guitar with 10 broken fingers.
What other artists say about Steve Marriott
Keith Richards has said that Mariott is in his top 5 favorite artists and considered having Steve in the Stones to replace Mick Taylor when he left…an idea that Mick Jagger rejected.
“Probably, really, my favorite other bands ever, Steve Marriott’s, very much from the English point of view, the Small Faces, then he had Humble Pie.
Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes To me it’s so obvious I’m a Steve Marriott rip-off that I never think about Rod. I admit it. Steve Marriott is the guy, him and Paul Rodgers and Gregg Allman.
Robert Plant (about the Song Remains the Same) I wanted to be like, “Come on!” I wanted to be Steve Marriott, for fuck’s sake.
Paul Rodgers I was rooting around in my cupboard the other day, actually, just yesterday, and I found a bunch of Steve Marriott live stuff and I put it on and MY GOD, that guy was unbelievable!
Documentary about Steve Marriott
Humble Pie with Marriott and Frampton.
Steve and Ronnie Lane in 1981. Some very good songs