Steve Marriott

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.

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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




Small Faces – Itchycoo Park

This song was released in 1967 by The Small Faces and it peaked at #16 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada and #3 in the UK. I was born in 1967 and cannot remember a thing but this song makes me feel like I was there. The song was written by Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott. A psychedelic song that hit on both sides of the ocean which was rare for the Small Faces who never toured America.

Glynn Johns used a new technique of phasing in the drum breaks.

From Songfacts.

“Itchycoo Park” is the nickname of Little Ilford Park in London. An “Itchycoo” is slang for a flower found in the park called a “Stinging Nettle,” which can burn the skin if touched. Said Lane: “It’s a place we used to go to in Ilford years ago. Some bloke we know suggested it to us because it’s full of nettles and you keep scratching.”

McLagan (from Uncut magazine): “I never liked ‘Itchycoo Park’ because me and Ronnie had to sing, ‘It’s all too beautiful,’ and you sing that a few times, and you think… It’s not.”

“But years after that I’d finally, properly, checked out the words, and realised it was about education and privilege,” he added. “The ‘bridge of sighs’ is the one in Cambridge. The ‘dreaming spires’ are a reference to Oxford. Then ‘to Itchycoo Park… That’s where I’ve been,’ Ronnie was saying, ‘I didn’t need privilege or education. Found beauty in a nettle patch in the East End of London.”


Itchycoo Park

Over bridge of sighs
To rest my eyes in shades of green

Under dreaming spires
To Itchycoo Park, that’s where I’ve been

(What did you do there?) I got high
(What did you feel there?) well, I cried
(But why the tears there?) tell you why
It’s all too beautiful, it’s all too beautiful
It’s all too beautiful, it’s all too beautiful

I feel inclined to blow my mind
Get hung up, feed the ducks with a bun
They all come out to groove about
Be nice and have fun in the sun

I’ll tell you what I’ll do (what will you do?) I’d like to go there now with you
You can miss out school (won’t that be cool?) why go to learn the words of fools?

(What will we do there?) we’ll get high
(What will we touch there?) we’ll touch the sky
(But why the tears there?) I’ll tell you why
It’s all too beautiful, it’s all too beautiful
It’s all too beautiful, it’s all too beautiful

I feel inclined to blow my mind
Get hung up, feed the ducks with a bun
They all come out to groove about
Be nice and have fun in the sun
It’s all too beautiful, it’s all too beautiful
It’s all too beautiful, hah

It’s all too beautiful, it’s all too beautiful
It’s all too beautiful, it’s all too beautiful
It’s all too beautiful, it’s all too beautiful



The Small Faces

The Small Faces were one of those British groups that just never could break America. Some say it was their manager Don Arden who would not budget for touring America but they could have been just a little too British for America…

They were indeed small… all of them were between 5’4 and 5’6″…

They had one of the best if not the best lead singer of that time in Steve Marriott. The guy had a huge voice. They had a talented lineup of Steve Marriott (Guitar and Lead Vocals), Ronnie Lane (Bass), Kenney Jones (drums) and Ian McLagan (Keyboards)… Ian replaced Jimmy Winston.

They were a mod group that was together from 1965 to the beginning of 1969 when Steve left to form Humble Pie.

The had some very good singles like All or Nothing, Itchycoo Park, Lazy Sunday, Tin Soldier, Sha-La-La-La-Lee and more.

The Small Faces also recorded a critically acclaimed concept psychedelic album in 1968 called Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake with their new record company Immediate Records. They never followed it up and only performed it once live in its entirety on a television show called Colour Me Pop. It spent 6 weeks at number one on the UK Album Charts.

Steve Marriott wanted to do heavier and more sophisticated music and quit at a 1968 New Years Eve gig to join Peter Frampton in Humble Pie.

When Mick Taylor quit the Rolling Stones in 1974 it left a big hole in their sound…  According to Ronnie Wood, Steve Marriott was Keith Richards first choice to replace Taylor…Mick Jagger vetoed the idea. Steve was a great guitar player and writer. It would have been interesting but he could not have sung lead. There is no singer that could take Mick’s place in the Rolling Stones.

The Small Faces were not finished. They replaced Marriott with Rod Stewart and Ron Wood and became the Faces. The Small Faces did reunite in the mid-70s with Ronnie Lane on bass again but he quit and was replaced.

Marriott and Lane did most of the writing. Their songs were clever and catchy. I was a very young in the sixties and don’t actually remember them but Itchycoo Park puts me there. This band should have been bigger than what they were… With the right record label, manager and push, they might have broken through.