Humble Pie was an English hard-rock/blues band from Moreton, Essex, that released two albums on Immediate in 1969, followed by six albums and a live double-LP on A&M between 1970 and 1975. For the length of its run, the band featured ex-Small Faces vocalist/guitarist Steven Marriott, who formed the band with ex-Herd guitarist/singer Peter Frampton, who departed for a solo career in 1971.
Members: Jerry Shirley (drums), Steve Marriott (vocals, guitar, keyboards, Jew’s harp, 1969-81), Greg Ridley (bass, 1969-75, 2001-03), Peter Frampton (guitar, 1969-71), Clem Clempson (guitar, 1972-75), Bobby Tench (guitar, vocals, keyboards, 1980-81, 2001-03), Anthony “Sooty” Jones (bass, 1980-81)
Humble Pie formed in January 1969 when Steve Marriott joined the band he helped assemble for his friend, Peter Frampton. The two singing guitarists met and bonded the prior year over their shared desire to break into the edgier realm of rock. Both arrived at their new band with prior success on the pop charts: Marriott in the Small Faces and Frampton in The Herd.
Marriott (b. 1947) hit the scene in 1963 with a solo single on Decca, followed by a sequence of beat gigs that brought him into contact with bassist Ronnie Lane, drummer Kenney Jones, and keyboardist Jimmy Winston, who collectively formed the Small Faces. Between 1965 and 1968, they placed ten singles on the UK Top 20, including “All or Nothing,” “Tin Soldier,” “Lazy Sunday,” and the transatlantic pop-psych evergreen “Itchycoo Park.”
Frampton (b. 1950) landed his first professional gig at age 15 in beatsters The Preachers, managed by Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman. In 1966, he joined The Herd, which charted with the singles “From the Underworld” and “Paradise Lost.” After the pop-psych whimsy of “Mixed Up Minds” and “I Can Fly,” they moved into rockier territory on the 1968 single “Sunshine Cottage,” a prelude to Frampton’s next band.
Marriott initially tried to get Frampton into the Small Faces as a fifth member, but this was vetoed by Lane, Jones, and Ian McLagen (Winston’s replacement). Undaunted, Marriott linked Frampton with bassist Greg Ridley and drummer Jerry Shirley.
Ridley first recorded in the R&B/mod band The V.I.P.s, which morphed into Art for the 1967 hard-psych album Supernatural Fairy Tales. With the arrival of American keyboardist/singer Gary Wright, they became Spooky Tooth and released the 1968/69 albums It’s All About and Spooky Two, the second released just after Ridley’s departure.
Shirley played on the 1967 pop-psych single “(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me” (b/w “Madame Garcia”) by The Apostolic Intervention, produced by Marriott and co-written with Lane.
In December 1968, the Small Faces held sessions with French singer Johnny Hallyday where Frampton played as a fifth wheel. Amid growing tensions with his bandmates, Marriott jumped ship to Frampton’s new band.
Due to the established reputations of its two frontmen, the new band was hailed as a supergroup. To downplay the hype, they named themselves Humble Pie and signed to Immediate Records, owned by Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham.
“Live With Me”.. slow churchy organ intro… Cm tonality forms… joined by the band after eight bars… rising/rippling organ, slow/smoldering guitar lines… Marriots vocals enter at 1:30, hi-octave howling as he reaches the chorus line amid volume swellup…searing Frampton solo threatens to take over around 3:15 before Marriot reasserts…comparable to Spooky Tooth (“Evil Woman”), Blind Faith and Ashton Gardner & Dyke. Haunted organ sounds spiral high after 5:00, threatening to take over… rescing once again for Marriot, singing at a distance amid a darker, bassier fog…volume overspills one last time around 7:00 as things climax, Marriot screams.. end on G “Earth and Water Song” rustic acoustic plucking (Led Zep acoustic)… Frampton vocal, sustained vowels, over open chordal strums, accompanied only by bass… light hi-hat enters to add pace… full band enters at 1:30…presaging Frampton’s solo ballads…crooning voice, evocative line “I am the earth, she is my water”… Leslied (?) lead solo around 3:00….another, more lyrical solo with bendy, sustained high-notes at 3:45…loosely structed sequence of chords and vocals.. song reshapes at 5:00 “there must be a better land”… lead guitar and organ outro… lyrically, the song uses Earth and water as metaphors for masculine and feminine in the context of a love song, in which the narrator wishes for a simple life of romance, stability and beauty of nature
- As Safe as Yesterday Is (1969)
- Town & Country (1969)
- Humble Pie (1970)
- Rock On (1971)
- Performance: Rockin’ the Fillmore (live 2LP, 1971)
- Smokin’ (1972)
- Eat It (1973)
- Thunderbox (1974)
- Street Rats (1975)
- On to Victory (1980)
- Go for the Throat (1981)
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