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.

Related image

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 – Tin Soldier

This a great R&B single from The Small Faces in 1967.  It’s a song that Steve Marriott wrote about Jenny Rylance who he met in 1966 and ended up marrying her in 1968. This song was released right after Itchycoo Park. The band wanted to get back to the R&B music they wanted to be known for. P.P. Arnold was the female singer on this song.

The song peaked at #9 in the UK and #73 in the Billboard 100. This is a good representation of the band.


Tin Soldier

I am a little tin soldier that wants to jump into your fire
You are a look in your eye
A dream passing by in the sky
I don’t understand
And all I need is treat me like a man
‘Cause I ain’t no child
Take me like I am
I got to know that I belong to you
Do anything that you want to do
Sing any so song that you want me to sing to you
I don’t need no aggravation
I just got to make you
I just got to make you my occupation, oh yeah
(I got to know that I belong to you)
(Do anything that you want to do)
(Sing any so song that you want me to sing to you)

All I need is your whispered hello
Smiles melting the snow, nothing heard
Your eyes, they’re deeper than time
Say a love that won’t rhyme without words
So now I’ve lost my way
I need help to show me things to say
Give me your love before mine fades away, yeah, baby
(I got to know that I belong to you)
(Do anything that you want to do)
(Sing any so song that you want me to sing to you)

Oh, no, no
Oh, no
I just want some reaction
Someone to give me satisfaction
All I want to do is stick with you,’cause I love you

Humble Pie – 30 Days in the Hole

This is personally my favorite song by Humble Pie. The group was never as big as it could have been. At one point they had Peter Frampton and Steve Marriott in the band together but never had the song that put them over the hump. They were a successful touring band but never really broke big. This song never charted but did get some FM play.

Steve had left the Small Faces and started Humble Pie with Peter Frampton.

From Songfacts.

Written by Humble Pie lead singer Steve Marriott, this song is about getting busted for drugs and getting sent to jail. Marriott got the idea after playing a show in Kentucky, where he learned that getting caught with drugs earned you 30 days in jail. He was also thinking about a friend of the band’s who had been sent to jail for having a joint.

Marriott was making the point that drugs were a part of the culture (just as alcohol was a generation earlier) and there was nothing wrong with it. In many ways, the song is a call for legalization.

Marriott has said that inspiration for the title came from a Humphrey Bogart/James Cagney movie he saw on TV, where Bogart plays a prisoner who gets sent to “30 days in the hole.”

Marriott may have been referring to the 1938 movie Angels With Dirty Faces, although that line is never uttered in the film. It’s also possible that the film was Somebody Up There Likes Me, a 1956 movie where Paul Newman is threatened with the “30 days in the hole.”

30 Days in the Hole

Roll my tape 
Ooh, ooh, ooh 

Thirty days,
Anyone doin’ that one? 
I’m doin’ that one 

30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole 

All right all right all right all right, yeah 

Chicago Green, talkin’ ’bout Black Lebanese 
A dirty room and a silver coke spoon 
Give me my release, come on 
Black Nepalese, it’s got you weak in your knees 
Sneeze some dust that you got buzzed on 
You know it’s hard to believe 

30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole 
That’s what they give you 
30 days in the hole 
I know 

Newcastle Brown, I’m tellin’ you, it can sure smack you down 
Take a greasy whore and a rollin’ dance floor 
It’s got your head spinnin’ round 
If you live on the road, well there’s a new highway code 
You take the urban noise with some dirt with poison 
It’s gonna lessen your load 

30 days in the hole 
That’s what they give you now 
30 days in the hole 
Oh, yeah 
30 days in the hole 
All right, all right 
30 days in the hole 

What you doin’ boy? 
You here for 30 days 
Get, get, get your long hair cut 
And cut out your ways 

Black Nepalese, it got you weak in your knees 
Gonna sneeze some dust that you got busted on 
You know it’s so hard to please 
Newcastle Brown can sure smack you down 
You take a greasy whore and a rollin’ dance floor 
You know you’re jailhouse-bound 

30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole 
Oh, yeah 
30 days in the hole 
30 days, 30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole 
30 days in the hole

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.