October 7, 2010

HUMBLE PIE: APRIL 1972/SEPTEMBER 1972/MAY 1973

Steve Marriott (Winterland, 1973)

Humble Pie
Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley
September 8, 1972
Winterland, San Francisco
April 22, 1972/May 5, 1973

Photos 1, 2, 5-18, 22-29 by Dan Cuny
Photos 3, 4, 19, 20, 21 by Gary Hodges

Greg Ridley, Clem Clempson (Winterland, 1973)

When Steve Marriott of The Small Faces and Peter Frampton of The Herd departed from their bands to form a new band, Humble Pie, in 1969, the two British musicians were hoping to put their days as "teen stars" behind them. As guitarists, singers, and songwriters, they both were seeking to play music that better expressed their talents. In addition to Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton, the new band had Greg Ridley (formerly of Spooky Tooth) on bass and Jerry Shirley on drums.

Humble Pie (Winterland, 1972)

Humble Pie quickly signed with Immediate Records (founded by Andrew Loog Oldham, former manager of The Rolling Stones), and released their first album, As Safe As Yesterday Is, in August, 1969. Many of the songs on the album had a decidedly tough sound. On their second album, Town and Country, released in November of 1969, they mainly used acoustic guitars, creating tracks with a softer sound that was rustic and folksy.

 Steve Marriott (Winterland, 1972)

In 1970, Humble Pie released a third album, Humble Pie, followed by Rock On (featuring one of their most famous songs, "Stone Cold Fever") and Performance Rockin' the Fillmore (recorded during sets at the Fillmore East in New York), both in 1971. By that time, Humble Pie had settled into a bluesy style of hard rock, with the powerful voice and spirited personality of Steve Marriott firmly at the forefront, and the band had gained a deserved reputation for their exciting shows.

 Steve Marriott (Berkeley Community Theatre, 1972)

Also in 1971, Peter Frampton left Humble Pie to seek his own musical fortune, and Clem Clempson (formerly of Colosseum) was soon brought in on guitar. The next album by Humble Pie, Smokin', was released in 1972 and included "Hot 'n' Nasty" and "30 Days in the Hole," two of the strongest tracks that they had ever recorded. The band toured relentlessly in those years, particularly in the USA, and their lusty performances were among the best that any band of the period had to offer. In the Bay Area, Humble Pie appeared at both the Berkeley Community Theatre and Winterland during 1972.

Steve Marriott (Berkeley Community Theatre, 1972)

When Humble Pie appeared at Winterland again, in May of 1973, their seventh album, Eat It (comprising two LPs, including one side of live tracks), was their current release. The band now included a threesome of female singers (Vanetta Fields, Clydie King, Billie Barnum) known as The Blackberries, who added a distinctly soulful flavor to the music. Humble Pie also used their own setup for the stage during that tour, with special lights and a runway that extended into the center of the audience, lending a touch of Las Vegas to their performance.

Greg Ridley (Clem Clempson, Winterland, 1973)

It was more than merely a run-of-the-mill gig. It was a full-scale production of boisterous rock'n'roll, with Clem Clempson, Greg Ridley, and Jerry Shirley playing as ardently as they could, and The Blackberries singing in tones that were both spicy and sweet. Above all, Steve Marriott proved himself to be a master showman. He strutted and sweated through every song, making an all-out attempt to push the audience, the other musicians, and himself to the farthest end of joyful endurance. Steve Marriott may have been small in size, but he truly was a giant figure as a performer.

Steve Marriott (Winterland, 1973)



Clem Clempson (Winterland, 1973)

Greg Ridley, Clem Clempson (Winterland, 1973)

Clem Clempson (Winterland, 1972)

David: I saw Humble Pie for the first time in May, 1973. Their opening act was Steely Dan, with Slade second on the bill. It was an exciting show with two hard rock bands. Steely Dan didn't seem to get the audience on its feet. Great as they were, it was not the audience for their style of music.

When we entered Winterland, we saw that a runway at the front of the stage had been added. That meant we could not be in the center, and we quickly had to choose which side of the runway to be on. We went for the right side, which put us very close to Steve Marriott when he performed later.

After hearing about Humble Pie from Gary, Dan, and Michael for months, I had high expectations. I was not disappointed. Steve Marriott was an amazing performer, and was very much at home on stage. He had an incredibly powerful singing voice that was gritty and soulful. He actually sang the introductions to each song, sounding like a Southern evangelical preacher. I don't remember him using a speaking voice even once.

Steve would walk out on the runway, playing his guitar right next to us, which can be seen in Dan's photos. The rest of the band also were powerful musicians. Greg Ridley played his bass like he was firing a machine gun. Jerry Shirley's drumming sounded like artillery shells, and Clem Clempson churned out lead guitar like a blitzkrieg.

Humble Pie's music seemed to take a different course after Peter Frampton left, especially with Eat It, which had a more soulful feel, with songs like "Black Coffee" (written by Ike and Tina Turner) and "I Believe to My Soul" (written by Ray Charles). That sound was complimented with the addition of female backup vocals by The Blackberries, who were on stage at Winterland.

Near the end of the concert they went into "I Don't Need No Doctor," one of their standards. I remember the push of the crowd behind me, and the bodies bouncing up and down all around me. Sweat streamed down Steve Marriott's face and arms. It was the perfect end to a long and tiring day.

We waited outside the stage door afterward, in hopes of meeting the band. There was some commotion from a drunk who managed to get into the band's limousine and got tossed out. I wasn't able to get Steve Marriott's autograph. I don't recall exactly, but I think I was on the wrong side of the line, or he just wasn't stopping to sign autographs. I did get an autograph from Clem Clempson.

 Steve Marriott (Winterland, 1973)





Gary: If I had to name one band that best matched the feel of Winterland, the raw openness of the hall and the gritty atmosphere of the area outside, it would have to be Humble Pie. Maybe it was the number of times I saw them there, and all the sound checks I heard before the gigs, that impressed themselves on my thinking through the decades, but somehow I always think of that turf as belonging to Steve Marriott. Humble Pie was a rock band of the first order.

As I remember, I saw Humble Pie at least four times. The first time was at Winterland, shortly after Clem Clempson had joined, and then later that same year at Berkeley Community Theatre, and twice again at Winterland. For the show at Winterland in 1973 (at the time of Eat It), they had a big runway coming off the stage, traced by accent lights, and The Blackberries were singing backup.

The first show I saw at Winterland in 1972 was stunning. Steve Marriott, as always, was dynamic, an open-valved force of nature. I'd never seen a human being with that much energy before. Clem Clempson, just starting in the band, was young, almost angelic looking, but his playing was loud and crisp. He solidly supported the band, adding elements that were different from those of Peter Frampton. (Although I'm sure the Frampton-era Humble Pie must have been something great to witness also.) Few bass and drum foundations meshed into a tight rhythm section in the way that Greg Ridley and Jerry Shirley did. They seemed to be in total sync, and rocked hard. Greg Ridley was a muscular man who looked as if he was about to split his pants. His playing was intense, with driving runs and unrelenting repetitive rhythms. There was no messing around with that guy.

No one in that band held anything back. Jerry Shirley's drumming matched Greg Ridley's energy. At one point, with Marriott, Ridley, and Shirley playing an unstoppable medium-slow deliberate blues groove, Clem Clempson advanced to the edge of the stage, and began to build a solo over the top with his dark sunburst Stratocaster. His solo built, slowly but surely, with runs and twisted feedback, and musical sparks flying off in all directions, until suddenly, with a smile on his face, he started quoting a Blind Faith riff (I think it was "Had to Cry Today"). He did it twice, and I was floored. He was showing the similarity of the chord structures and made the rhythms fit in a very clever way. He then calmly went back into his solo, and the band pushed things to a climax. Before you could catch your breath, they had suddenly shifted gears again, and Marriott was ripping out the chords to "I Don't Need No Doctor" and bouncing across the stage in such a fury of energy that the photos we took were just a blur. That was how rock music was meant to be.

At Berkeley Community Theatre, the band was in top form. I could tell from the physical appearance of the band that they had been on the road a lot. Steve Marriott was all skin and bones, but cocky as hell. What an amazing character and performer that man was! His cheeks were gaunt and his weight was down (probably below a hundred pounds), but he was unstoppable.

At Winterland in 1973, it was a very different Humble Pie. It seemed that they had been taking better care of themselves. Steve Marriott looked healthier. I remember him wearing blue overalls with no shirt, looking relatively well-fed and groomed. The runway they had was almost like a runway used by models, and Marriott used it to good effect. The music on Eat It was more rhythm and blues oriented, and The Blackberries were a beautiful vocal backup group. The rest of the band seemed more carefully dressed than before, and the playing was as great as ever.

When we waited outside at the stage door after that show, there was a drunken man with a beard who was being very stubborn in trying to get either through the door or into the limousine that was parked nearby. At one point he even pissed into the gutter. The security guards kept escorting him away, but somehow he made his way into the limousine and had to be dragged out.

After a long delay, Steve Marriott came out, intending to enter the limousine, but he had to stop. The chauffeur discovered that once again the drunken man had gotten into the limousine, and had to be dragged out again so that the band could get in. As the man was being removed, he addressed Steve Marriott in a drunken slur: "Remember, we're all stars!" Then he declared, to both Marriott and the onlookers, "Remember the All Stars!" Steve Marriott responded with a look of pure joy and amazement, as if he actually identified with the behavior of the drunken man who persisted in challenging authority. Shortly after Humble Pie broke up, Steve Marriott formed a band called Steve Marriott's All Stars.

I really miss Humble Pie. Their music was a type of rock that is rarely heard nowadays. Those Winterland concerts had an amazing feeling, especially after waiting all day. The band would come for a sound check that we could hear outside, echoing behind the doors as the sun started to set and the weather started to get cold, with maybe a little San Francisco fog, and the marquee lights would be turned on, signifying that we were about to be let in. Humble Pie somehow summed up all those feelings, which have remained lodged in my memory more than thirty-five years later, and channeled them into intense music that was a true release. I'm glad we were there, and I'm glad I was there with my friends.

Humble Pie (Winterland, 1972)

Greg Ridley, Clem Clempson (Winterland, 1972)

Steve Marriott (Winterland, 1972)

Greg Ridley, Clem Clempson (Winterland, 1972)

 Steve Marriott (Berkeley Community Theatre, 1972)

Dan: Here are my memories of seeing three performances by Humble Pie:

Winterland, 1972 (Humble Pie, Edgar Winter, Osibisa) To be perfectly honest, I think Gary and I went to this show mostly to see Edgar Winter. I personally didn't know much about Humble Pie, apart from my older brother, Tim, saying that they had released an album, Performance Rockin' the Fillmore, the previous year. I hadn't heard any of their music, so I was very green to them. Smokin' had just come out, but I hadn't heard the album. At Winterland in 1972, I remember Greg Ridley and his bushy mustache, and Clem Clempson playing lead guitar right in front of me. The thing that really stands out to me was the excitement that Steve Marriott had on stage. That man could not only play guitar, but his voice was extremely dynamic. I remember leaving the show thinking that we had seen a band that had outperformed the other acts, and I wanted to hear more from them. I believe the next day, or soon after, I purchased Smokin', which was played heavily on my stereo. An outstanding show.

Berkeley Community Theatre, 1972 (Humble Pie, Frank Biner Band) Now this was a show that I was very excited to see. Steve Marriott and Humble Pie were one of my favorite bands by this time. I had been listening to Smokin' and their earlier albums. This show ROCKED!!! Steve Marriott was in true form that night. One of my fondest memories of the show is of Steve Marriott getting angry with the sound because his microphone wasn't working properly. He slammed the mic to the stage and belted out the song with just his voice. We could hear him loud and clear. That was amazing. This little man in stature, with a huge voice and such stage presence, was one of my favorite performers. One of the sights I'll never forget is Steve Marriott with one hand on his hip and the other hand on the mic, singing his heart out. I know that Greg Ridley, Clem Clempson, and Jerry Shirley also were on stage, but Steve Marriott was the person I watched ninety percent of the time. "Hot 'n' Nasty," "C'mon Everybody," and "I Don't Need No Doctor" were among the highlights. It was truly a smokin' show.

Winterland, 1973 (Humble Pie, Slade, Steely Dan) I really liked seeing Humble Pie at this show, as we were right next to the stage, which is where we were for the majority of the shows that we saw at Winterland. Steve Marriott was in true form at this show, too. This show also had something different, as Humble Pie now had three backup singers, The Blackberries. I was surprised to see them, but they added another layer to the music. Humble Pie was touring on the Eat It album, so there were a few new songs played, but the old Humble Pie energy wasn't lacking. Many of the songs were the same as the other shows, as this was the third time I had seen the band in just over a year. Humble Pie was tight that night, and the crowd was eager to hear them. Slade and Steely Dan were great warm up bands. I think the photos I took of Humble Pie at that show are some of my favorite shots of the band. We were very close to the stage, and most of the time Steve Marriott was standing right over us.

Steve Marriott, Clem Clempson (Berkeley Community Theatre, 1972)

Steve Marriott (Berkeley Community Theatre, 1972)

Greg Ridley, Clem Clempson (Berkeley Community Theatre, 1972)

Jerry Shirley (Berkeley Community Theatre, 1972)

Steve Marriott (Berkeley Community Theatre, 1972)

Michael: Humble Pie, and Steve Marriott in particular, always provided a great show. I saw them perform on two occasions, at Berkeley Community Theatre in 1972 and at Winterland in 1973. They were known for never holding anything back in their performances, playing music that was loud and rough, and playing it with a raw vigor that was staggering. No audience could fail to respond when Humble Pie was on stage.

Steve Marriott was the main force in Humble Pie, and he was a born performer. He was a diminutive fireball, a pint-sized cockney with a roaring voice, and he easily took over any stage on which he appeared. It seemed that he could not stand still for even a moment. He was always moving, always working himself to the fullest of his abilities.

When I saw Humble Pie for the first time in 1972, I was completely stunned by the brazen strength of their performance. I had never seen a band play with such fierce power. I would not have been surprised if they had actually blown off the roof of the Berkeley Community Theatre. In comparison with Steve Marriott, most other performers seemed lame and lazy. From the first song to the last, he never stopped performing, apparently determined to give everything that he had to give.

As was usual when we went to Winterland, at the show in 1973 we were at the front of the audience, and I can remember Steve Marriott running up and down the length of the runway throughout the performance, clearly enjoying the opportunity to be especially close to his fans. As the audience responded more strongly, his active demeanor became even more lively.

After that show we waited at the stage door. When Steve Marriott finally came out, he had a blond girl nearly twice his height by his side, and he puffed on a small cigar as he cheerily greeted us. He lived too fast and too hard, and his impetuous life was far too brief, but I am compelled to smile whenever I think of him. As a performer and as a person, he was one of a kind.


More about Steve Marriott here

Photos and memories of a performance by Peter Frampton at Winterland in 1974 can be seen here

More about Humble Pie at David's Rock Scrapbook

Next: Traffic

10 comments:

  1. This installment was worth the wait! Thank you so much!

    I wonder if people felt disappointed that Frampton was no longer in the band, or whether many knew ahead of time.

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  2. According to my recollection, people were well aware of Frampton not being in the band, especially the second time I saw them. They were an exceptional band with and without him. I never had the opportunity to see Frampton with humble Pie, but I bet it was great.

    Regards,
    Dan Cuny

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  3. Bonjour
    I saw the original Pie in summer '71.
    At Place des Nations, Expo 67 site in Montréal.
    I had hitch-hiked from far away to see ELP.
    Had been a real fan of The Nice and finally had the chance to catch Mr Emerson live.
    I had no idea who was opening the show.
    I found out while waiting at the gates.
    I couldn't believe it, Humble Pie... and I was a fan since their excellent début LP. I would have gone just for them. They were fantastic. It was the same show as Rockin' the Fillmore. I was in the front row. Frampton then was unknown and he was stunning, as for Steve, you guys said it all in your texts. Gritty, soulful and superb on vocals, gtr and harmonica.
    Let's not forget the rhythm section du tonnerre.
    Cheers!
    Serge

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  4. I agree with you Serge. I was there also for ELP as I knew Emerson from The Nice, Lake from King Crimson and Palmer from Atomic Rooster. Had no idea who was opening until I got there. It was fantastic. And I saw Frampton solo at the same venue a couple of years later.

    Gaétan

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  5. NIce Write up Fellas. Cheers to All of you:) from a big fan of this band. My only regret.. that I will never be able to see them live. The music will always be there for me though.

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  6. I can't believe this! I was also at the Montreal show the summer of '71. I had driven up there from Boston (where I lived) that day and ran into a friend of mine who suggested we go to an ELP concert. I couldn't believe it when we got there and Humble Pie came on as the opening act. I had just heard their US debut album a month before, but I was not prepared for how awesome they sounded live. Steve Marriott was fantastic! You could tell the band was really going all out to impress and win the audience over!

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  8. My first contact with Humble Pie was with Smokin album. To this day I consider the two guitar solos made by Clem Clempson in "I Wonder" as the best blues solo recorded and I can not see any other ground of top blues these in creativity, feeling and inspiration. Recently I asked Clem Clempson profile on Face Book on these solos. I was wondering if he had made them suddenly or had assembled piece by piece. He was very friendly, was very happy for my memory about this moment and told me that both solos were given extemporaneously and recorded in a single take. I confess that I asked only for the sake of conscience but in my heart I was sure so bright and sensitive solos could only have been made spontaneously.

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  9. Saw the Pie in Chicago 1972. Hi energy show.

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