Here is a band that most have heard the name of, but still may not know their music. One of the bands forgotten by the tick-tocking of time, effectively ending their career in 1975 and then releasing two albums at the start of the 80s as a final “hurrah”.
The original members of this band all played in several bands, many of them known at least at the level of Humble Pie or more. Everyone knows Peter Frampton after his famous solo live album “Comes Alive”, but Steve Marriott should be a familiar name for most, not at least through his time playing for Small Faces.
At the time of this interview their greatest success as a band were still waiting just around the corner. In 1972 and 1973 they charted both in the UK and the US with the albums “Smokin`” and “Eat It”.
A Humble offering of rock `n` roll
By Royston Eldridge
Humble Pie have made it but they haven`t had it easy. They`ve done it the hard way by spending months working around America, living down that initial supergroup ballyhoo that they never really wanted, until now when they`ve reached the stage where they`re accepted as a rock and roll band in their own right.
And that`s really all they`ve ever wanted. “I can`t kid myself,” Steve Marriott says, “I`m an old rock and roller, I`ll never be anything else, I`ve never wanted to be anything else.” Peter Frampton thinks the same way too and both of them have always wanted a group to play in where they`ll be known as musicians and not pretty faces.
“We`ve done a few clubs in England, the Marquee and things like that, and we also did one Locarno which we decided we`d never do again after being screamed at. We`ve never wanted that; all we`ve wanted to do is just to lay some rock and roll on the audience and try and bring a little bit of excitement back. It`s been a bit dull, don`t you think?”
So far all the excitement that Humble Pie have created has been in America where they`ve worked their way up from supporting act to headliners. A switch which happened in one week in New York. “We played the Fillmore with Cactus and the next week they asked us both back and the next time we headlined over Cactus. It was a really good gig,” Frampton explains.
In England progress has been slower but then Humble Pie haven`t played here that much. “When we first started we did a concert tour in England on the strength of the hit single and people weren`t really sure of us, they didn`t know whether we were going to be a teenybopper group or whatever. They weren`t too sure of our past reputations.
So we just decided to do America first, somewhere to go to where they had no pre-conceived idea of what we are, and we started from scratch there. I mean they knew Greg from Spooky Tooth and they knew Steve had come from the Small Faces but they didn`t really know Jerry or myself. I was known just about from the Herd because we were always meant to be going over but we never really made it.
“Now we`ve spent like nine months slowly building up a reputation in America and we`ve got a reputation as a good band now. It`s taken us some time, sure, the last tour was three months long, but we`d made up our minds to stay until the album got into the charts and it has done. It didn`t get as high as we`d have liked it to but it made it.” Frampton spoke from Frankfurt where he, Marriott, Greg Ridley and Jerry Shirley were in the middle of a European tour.
The Piemen return on Friday for Saturday`s Hyde Park concert with Grand Funk Railroad, a group that Humble Pie have played with a lot in the States. “We`ve done some really big arenas with Grand Funk and it was good for us because we`re able to reach so many people in a short space of time. Like at Madison Square Garden and St. Louis you`re playing to 20,000 at a time and then we`re playing Shea Stadium with them in July.
During their last American tour, Humble Pie recorded at the Fillmore East and they hope to have a live album and their next single out of what was put down on tape at what Frampton describes as a “really good” gig.
“We did it about three weeks, it was the last gig we did and it was really good. We`ve got to mix it again, we`ve mixed it once, but we`re going to take the tapes to America with us when we go over to play Shea Stadium.
“The single will probably be `I Don`t Need No Doctor` which is a number that Ray Charles does very well. And the album will probably be a double album and that`ll be out in September. The single should be out at the end of July.
“The album will have the whole of the stage act on it and even some of the numbers that we don`t do every time. There`ll be some of our real favourites like `Rolling Stone` which is the Muddy Waters number, `Gilded Splinters` and `Four Day Creep` which is normally our opening number.”
Hyde Park apart, Humble Pie aren`t likely to be playing England again until late autumn. After their next American tour they plan to return to Europe for a two-week round of appearances and then come back to England although Frampton feels there aren`t many good venues left.
“There seems to be something of a close down. When I was there I got the feeling that there was no excitement anymore, they`ve closed down Mothers in Birmingham which was a good gig, like doing the Marquee, but there`s not much else especially outside of London unless you do a concert tour. There`s Birmingham Town Hall, there`s a few other town halls, but there`s nothing like the Lyceum and you can`t keep playing London.”
America then remains of major importance to Humble Pie although they`d like, in Frampton`s words, to lay some rock and roll on English audiences. America has accepted them, England remains to be conquered.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Traffic, Bronco, Yes, Kate Taylor, Gary Burton, Tony Williams, Stephen Stills, Murray Head, Sandy Denny, John Sebastian, Clouds, Heads & Hands and Feet, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Curtis Mayfield, Scotty.
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