Profile: Steve Marriott

It was 20 years ago today that Small Faces/Humble Pie frontman Steve Marriott tragically died in a housefire at his home in Essex. While perhaps not quite as well-known, his influence on the last 45 years of popular music could certainly be considered to be in the same league as Sgt. Pepper and his friends.

Marriott first appeared in the public consciousness with a role as the Artful Dodger in the musical, "Oliver!", but was within a few years fronting a handful of bands that were part of the british blues-rock scene of the early 60's, playing at venues alongside such groups as the Bluesbreakers, The Animals and early incarnations of The Rolling Stones.

By 1964 Marriott had settled on Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones and Jimmy Winston as collaborators and the Small Faces were born, signing to Decca Records in '65. A succession of high-charting singles (including All or Nothing, Itchycoo Park, Tin Soldier, Lazy Sunday) and four albums firmly cemented the Faces' public profile over the next four years.

To some extent it can be said that the Small Faces, along with The Who and The Kinks, truly brought the 'Mod' scene out to a more widespread audience. These were the musicians who took the rock and blues sound of the UK clubs, combined with deeper soul and R&B influences from across the Atlantic, and turned it into truly 'popular' music - Creating songs that provide a blueprint for success to this day.

Marriott left the Small Faces in 1968 and formed Humble Pie with Peter Frampton, Jerry Shirley and Greg Ridley. Although at first Marriott seemed happier with more freedom to perform and record what he wanted, the seventies brought constant touring and the inevitable push from management to make Marriott's role as frontman decidedly more high-profile. Perhaps not surprisingly, tensions within the band increased as did levels of alcohol and drug use. From the mid-seventies onwards Marriott concentrated mainly on solo work, turning down numerous big-money offers from the major labels, although both the Small Faces and Humble Pie did both reform.

Looking back today, it isn't hard to see how how Marriott's music and his attitude or 'style' influenced rock and pop in later years. He certainly seemed to be emulated by Mod-Revival/New Wave bands such as The Jam in the late seventies and onwards. The same could also be said for the '2nd Mod-Revival' of Britpop in the early 90's too. But perhaps it is Marriott's songs that have provided his greatest legacy - Just plain, often perfectly crafted, great pieces of timeless music.

10 years after his death a number of artists including Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Midge Ure and Humble Pie themselves came together for a tribute concert for Marriott at London's Astoria. I'm happy to say that we have the full [1hr 50m] recording of the concert HERE at Gigseen.