Humble Pie early years and live 1972

Humble Pie early years and live at the Lincoln Festival and Newcastle Odeon 1972 photo-7
Humble Pie are one of my friend John’s favourite bands. He has helped me a lot with my memories of that band in concert, and with writing the blogs on the Pie over the next few days. We both remember just how great a front man Steve Marriott was, and how powerful a force Humble Pie live were in the early to mid 70s.
Formed in 1969 with Marriott, Frampton and Ridley having significant pedigrees (Jerry Shirley being a kid who got the gig after befriending Steve Marriott when they supported the Small Faces), the name, coined by Steve Marriot ,was a push back of the “Supergroup” moniker which was common at the time and had been applied to them. Their first two albums were almost soft-rock, and quite different to the soulful raucous rock band that they would develop into a few years later. The single Natural Born Bugie (why did they spell it that way?) was a major chart success reaching number 4 in July 1969.The single highlights the vocal ability of the band with Ridley, Frampton and Marriott each taking a verse in turn. A follow up single Big Black Dog did not chart, but was played often at the Sunderland Mecca that John and I both frequented, and the overall “sound” was to be indicative of what was to come.Their next album was the eponymous Humble Pie, with a great cover featured on Shirley’s drum kit, followed by their first “real album” Rock On which contains Shine On, a song which still features in Peter Frampton shows, Stone Cold Fever and Rollin Stone. After poor album sales, but a good live response, Dee Anthony came up with the idea of capturing them on a double live album – sold at a discount – an idea he was to repeat to great effect with Peter Frampton in subsequent years. Performance – photo-pie Rockin the Fillmore, to give it its full name, was recorded at the Fillmore East (not West) over four shows on May 28/29th.They were to play that venue more than 20 times. The album contains only two self penned songs Stone Cold Fever and Four Day Creep plus the standards Rollin Stone and I’m Ready and three covers I Walk on Guilded Splinters, Hallelujah (I love her so) and I Dont Need No Doctor.The latter song would feature in every gig the Pie played. Guilded Splinters is John’s favourite piece of recorded music. He feels that it “captures everything that was great about the band: a long slow jam building to a crescendo with no flash or glitz just a great band keeping solid time and improvising over a solid base.” Splinter is 24 minutes and 30 seconds but in Jerry Shirley’s book he says it was edited down from 33 minutes. They never played this song after Frampton left and it highlights his ability and the chemistry which existed between him and Marriott during that brief but fantastic period from late 69 to mid 71.
photo-11 The next album Smokin was their best selling, hitting No 6 in the USA driven by their aggressive touring, but only No 28 in the UK. Over their entire history Humble Pie never had an album in the top 10 in the UK. John feels: “While it is their biggest commercial success, for me the chemistry was gone when Clem Clempson replaced Frampton and Marriott took control. Many bands are better when the creative tension between two contributors is held in check – Waters/Gilmore, Page/Plant, Blackmore/Gillan among others – and for me, despite their next great effort, Eat It , the band were never the same. Thunderbox was decent but the next and final album Street Rats less than spectacular.”
John first got into Humble Pie when a friend at School loaned him his Rockin the Fillmore. I’m less clear how I first got into them, but first got to see them at the Lincoln Festival in May 1972, where they pulled off a tremendous performance and got a great reaction from the crowd. We both wanted to go and see them at Durham University in early 72 but it was the Rag Ball, students only, expensive (dinner included) and formal dress (which seems unbelievable for the time, but I’m pretty sure that its true). We both then saw them at Newcastle Odeon in late 1972 with Frampton’s Camel as support. My ticket shows the time as 6pm, so I can only assume that there were two shows that evening, and I must have attended the early show. I remember thinking it strange that Frampton would be supporting his ex-band, but recall very little about his set. I do remember him playing Plain Shame, which remains one of my favourite Frampton songs to this day.
humblepieodeon1 My memories of Humble Pie in concert from those days are primarily of Steve Marriott. He was just such  an amazing front man. All cockney swagger, the guy had absolutely no fear, and he took total control of the crowd throughout every performance. His voice, range and power were just amazing, and you got the feeling that he was believed and felt every single word. If you don’t know what I mean go to youtube and look out a live version of I Don’t Need No Doctor or Rollin’ Stone. Do I really remember him shouting “My skin is white, but my soul is black” or is that my memory playing tricks? I don’t think I’ve seen a performer since that even comes close. Or maybe, and I guess its a crazy comparison, I see something of the Marriott attitude in Robbie Williams; the total ego, the power of the performance, the ability to hold a massive crowd in his hand. And I see some of the Marriott mannerisms in Paul Weller, but then he is a big Marriott fan. A typical Humble Pie set list from 1972 was something like: Up Our Sleeve; C’Mon Everybody; Honky Tonk Woman; I Wonder; Hallelujah I Love Her So; I Don’t Need No Doctor; Hot n Nasty; Four Day Creep; Rolling Stone. Humble Pie sets tended to include a small number of songs as each one ended up as quite a marathon with lots of jamming. Thanks to John for his excellent contributions to the above. More tomorrow.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tony Miles on September 1, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Regarding the comments about Steve Marriott’s abilities as a live performer…I absolutely 100% agree! 🙂


  2. Posted by Geoff on July 21, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I booked them for Durham University Rag Ball 1972 – can’t confirm/deny the formal dress – all a haze – but they were great


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: