Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Steve Marriott - Sixty Four Inches Of Pure Rock Energy!


"Consider Yourself“ is a hit song from the 1960s original West End and Broadway musical Oliver! – And the leading vocals are sung by a 13 year old unknown actor, Stephen Peter Marriott, better known as Steve Marriott!
Steve Marriott age 14-15.
The Marriotts lived on a council estate in the East End of London; the family came from a solid working class background. Steve was what today would be considered hyperactive, and this led to him being somewhat unruly. The blame for a fire in a classroom was laid at his feet, and the young boy found himself blacklisted from all the local council schools! The parents were at a loss at what they should do with their indefatigable son; but the boy's father, Bill, himself a hobby pianist, had long noticed his son’s natural talents. In 1960, Bill Marriott spotted an advertisement in a London newspaper for a new Artful Dodger replacement to appear in Lionel Bart's popular musical Oliver!, and without telling his son, applied for him to audition. Thirteen year old Steve auditioned for the role; Bart was impressed with the youngster's vocal abilities and hired him. So started the career of one of the great spirits of Rock!
Steve Marriott 1966/67
Steve went on to attend the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London. Because his family was unable to afford the private school fees, it was mutually agreed the fees would be deducted from acting work the school found him. He quickly gained acting roles, working consistently in film, television and radio, along side the likes of Peter Sellers and David Hemming.

The road to fame through acting was not the one that Steve wanted to follow. Through his veins flowed the blood of a musician, and that, against his family’s wishes, was the path he chose. From there on in his powerful soulful voice and forceful guitar playing dominated every band he played with! From his first ‘childhood’ group- The Wheels, and later with the Small Faces (1965–1969) - and Humble Pie (1969–1975 and 1980–1981), Steve commanded the act! In Britain, Marriott became a popular, often-photographed mod style icon through his role as lead singer and guitarist with the Small Faces. Not only was he a gifted singer and guitarist but also an amazing songwriter. In fact you’d have a hard time deciding who was the best ‘Mod’ composer-Townsend or Marriott!  

These God given attributes, led to many jealous confrontations within the band's working environment. Add to this a severe case of bad management, and you end up with a Rock fiasco!

Envy’s green stretched further than home ground. According to Ronnie Wood in his autobiography Ronnie, Marriott was Keith Richard's first choice to replace Mick Taylor in The Rolling Stones – ‘Steve told me, “I was good and stood at the back for a while but then Keith would hit this lick and I just couldn't keep my mouth shut”. Keith wanted him in but there was no way that once Steve opened his mouth Mick would have him in the band. He knew Steve would never stay in the background. They were the one band in the world that Steve would have loved to have been in. He just wanted to work with Keith.’ – Pam Marriott
Steve and Jenny Rylance
Steve was also the role model for Jimmy Page when selecting a lead singer; in fact Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin's lead singer, was a fan of the Small Faces and a regular at their early gigs. Not only that but , Zeppelin's classic song "Whole Lotta Love" is said by some to be a direct take of Marriott's version of the classic song "You Need Lovin'", originally written by Willie Dixon .
What twisted jest of fate led to this Icon, to end his days playing in small clubs for peanuts, when he should have been filling stadiums and concert halls throughout the World! We cannot bring excuses of drugs- tell me a 60’s musician who didn’t; bad management- The Rolling Stones, (to name just one band), survived more than one ‘midnight cowboy’; internal conflicts with other band members- The Who, besides others, rode this path and blossomed. Can someone tell me what the fuck happened! The small East End Cockney singer frightened the shit out of his fellow musicians.

In 1966 I was a student at Kingsway College, in Euston, London, and in our lunch break we used to go to a small café situated in an alley behind our building. Walking in, one September Friday, who should be sat there but the Small Faces- obviously we were surprised and showed it! As we left they waved bye. I had some good friends, who used to bring me into a cult TV programme called Ready Steady Go!, and I had tickets for that evening's show, one of the acts appearing was the Small Faces! I happened to be near their podium when they came on; Steve must have remembered me from the café, as he jokingly shouted ‘Oi, are you following me!’, and then they were on air, doing  a great rendition of  ‘All Or Nothing’- which, by the way, was Steve Marriott’s favourite composition. As he remarks in this interview from 1985 link.
Steve in his Humble Pie era
The last ‘close’ encounter with Steve was a couple of years before his death at a club in the Swiss town of Winterthur. It wasn’t a big club but it was packed to the roof, with fans coming from neighbouring Germany, and as far down as Italy to see the legend play! His voice had lost a little of its edge due to excessive alcohol and cigarettes, but the performance was electrifying! The room was already warm and sticky for the audience, but Steve ignored the sweat that was pouring down his face and burning his eyes; you could hear and see he was giving his best and MORE! Here he was playing to a crowd of 300 or so, while the same night, only a few kilometres down the road, another 60’s star, Steve Winwood, was playing to a sold out 10'000 capacity concert hall. 
Steve Marriot died on 20th of April 1991 when a fire, thought to have been caused by a cigarette, swept through his 16th-century home in Arkesden, Essex, UK. Even now so many years after his death, Steve Marriott has not been initiated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! All I can say to that is fuck them! Steve will always be the Ace Face!

I leave the closing paragraph to this post to the firemen who found him- “I used to be a fan, it's difficult to put my feelings into words. The scene was horrific in that corner of the room. I saw him lying there and thought what a pity it all was. I deal with many fires but this one was like walking down memory lane. We managed to salvage all his guitars and musical equipment. I feel a bit upset, all the firemen do. It was like seeing part of our lives gone forever." (Fire officer).



If you have enjoyed this post, please be so kind and  press my Face Book like button on the top right hand side of this page. Thank you. Warmest wishes, Alex Johnson

10 comments:

  1. I saw Weller play (before his sainthood period) the day after Steve died, one of the few times I have seen genuine emotion from him on stage.

    All or Nothing - what a tune.

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  2. Supercool!
    I made a clip of "me you and us too",
    i you wanna take a look...
    http://tarkus-magicmac.blogspot.com/2011/06/clip-small-faces-me-you-and-us-too.html

    Hi friend.

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  3. I had the privilege to see Steve Marriot in my hometown Malmo, Sweden, 1985, when I was 20 and a mod. Me and my brother, also a mod, managed to get backstage and had Steve sign a book about Small Faces for us. Small Faces was the first band I listen to. The band deserve more credit. Ogden´s not gone flake is far better than Sergeant Pepper. My favourite song is their version of Baby don´t do it. I also like Sha la la la le alot. I wish I had been around in those days, this amazing decade the 60s. At least I was born in the middle, 1965, a good year, wouldn´t you say, Alex. I like your site and the stuff you write. I made the second comment about Sandy Sarjeant. I don´t have a facebook account for various reasons, but you have, Alex. Why don´t you contact her? There can´t be that many women in the UK (if she still lives there) with a last name of Sarjeant. I came across her name 25 years ago. If you get in contact with her, please say hello from Sweden. She has fans here.

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  4. I worked with Steves sister Kay in London in 1972 when he was at his peak. I remember her saying the family went to see him at Maddison Square Garden USA. She was in awe of him and often spoke of his wife at the time Jenny who the family loved. Some of the songs he wrote were sheer genius and timeless, they will be played for many years to come.

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  5. i saw him play in late '90 in york. when he did the old small faces classics his voice was as pure as it ever had been. i think one of the turning points in his career was when he received angry letters from young fans who were distraught that he had got married. the small faces then split. i feel sure that he then took a musical direction that catered for a different type audience, which took him away from the pop scene. he was as good as it gets, and more.

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  6. Does anyone know the whereabouts of Steve's sister Kay?
    Kay was my first girlfriend. We met at the Granada in East Ham. She and Steve introduced me to soul music and the Ilford Palais.

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  7. Does anyone know the whereabouts of Steve's sister Kay?

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  8. Hi Trevor, you may be able to contact Kay through this FB page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/335028789911379/
    Good luck, Alex

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