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Humble Pie

Humble Pie was a British rock band formed in 1969 in Essex. At the time it was considered something of a supergroup (the original model of which was Cream with Eric Clapton) because each of its members came to it from other successful bands: leader Steve Marriott was part of the Small Faces (later replaced by a young soccer-loving lad named Rod Stewart); Peter Frampton had led guitar in Herd; bassist Greg Ridley came from Spooky Tooth and drummer Jerry Shirley from Valkyrie. In the beginning the members met and rehearsed practically in secret, so as not to create too high an expectation of thier first efforts.

Humble Pie These first efforts included a single, "Natural Born Boogie," which was released by the Immediate label (a project of Andrew Loog Oldham) and entered the British Top Ten; the first album, As Safe As Yesterday Is, followed soon thereafter. The album was considered an update of what Marriott had been doing with the Faces - acoustic/electric rock with a progressive feel. Town and Country, their second effort, was released the same year, during which the Pie toured the United States. When they got back, they found their record label had gone bankrupt.

From the beginning* Humble Pie had dithered between Marriott's harder-edged, blues-influenced rock style and Frampton's softer, more acoustically-oriented sound (which would later prove rather successful on its own). The band's new post-Immediate manager, Dee Anthony, encouraged Marriott to go more in the bluesy direction, which is evident on 1970's Humble Pie and '71's Rock On. The group released a solo album, Performance: Rockin' the Fillmore, and Frampton, deciding he wanted to pursue his own music style without hindrance, quit to go solo.

Dave 'Clem' Clempson of Colosseum took over guitar duties and the band released Smokin' in 1972, which contained the minor hit "Thirty Days in the Hole;" the album was popular mainly because the group toured constantly, but a major hit single continued to elude them. A double album, Eat It, came out in 1973, to mixed reviews; it featured three studio-recorded sides (mostly cover songs) and one live-recorded side. 1974's Thunderbox didn't manage to quite get into the Top 40, and after '75's Street Rats peaked at number 100, the group decided to call it quits.

In 1980, Marriott and Shirley decided to form a new Humble Pie, recruiting Bobby Tench of the Jeff Beck Group and bassist Anthony Jones; two albums resulted, 1980's On To Victory and '81's Go For The Throat. An American tour ensued, but bad luck brought things to a halt when Marriott first smashed his hand in a door, then developed an ulcer (probably worrying about the hand). The band broke up again, and for the next decade Marriott kept a low profile, occasionally emerging to work on minor projects; by the early 1990's, he and Frampton (himself an aging rocker who had tasted both success and disappointment) decided to start working together again on new material.

Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. On April 20, 1991, Marriott died in a fire which destroyed his 16th-century home. He was 44.

*(pun intended)

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