Humble Pie was a rock band from England, finding success both in the UK and the US. They are remembered for songs such as "Black Coffee" "30 Days in the Hole", "I Don't Need No Doctor", and "Natural Born Bugie". The original band lineup featured Steve Marriott from the Small Faces, vocalist and guitarist Peter Frampton from The Herd, former Spooky Tooth bassist Greg Ridley and seventeen-year-old drummer Jerry Shirley.
In January 1969 Steve Marriott, having just left the Small Faces, got together with Greg Ridley, Peter Frampton and Jerry Shirley, who had been the drummer for the mod band Apostolic Intervention. Originally Marriott had brought together Shirley and Ridley as a possible band for Frampton, but ended up joining them himself. They eventually chose the name Humble Pie and were signed to Andrew Loog Oldham's record label Immediate Records. Their debut single, "Natural Born Bugie", was released in July 1969 becoming a #4 hit in the UK Singles Chart and was quickly followed by the album As Safe As Yesterday Is, which peaked at #16 in the UK album charts. As Safe As Yesterday Is was one of the first albums to be described by the term "heavy metal" in a 1970 review in Rolling Stone magazine. Their second album, Town and Country released in the UK during 1969 while the band was away on its first tour of the US. This album featured a more acoustic sound and songs written by all four members. Humble Pie concerts at this time featured an acoustic set, with a radical re-working of Graham Gouldman's "For Your Love" as its centerpiece followed by an electric set. Recent tape archives show that the band recorded around 30 songs in its first nine months of existence, many of which remained unreleased for decades, including a cover of Henry Glover's "Drown in My Own Tears".
During 1970, Humble Pie switched to A&M Records and Dee Anthony became their manager. Anthony was focused on the US market and discarded the acoustic set, instigating a more raucous sound with Marriott as the front man. The group's first album for A&M, Humble Pie, was released later that year and alternated between progressive rock and hard rock. A single, "Big Black Dog", was released to coincide with the album and failed to chart, however the band was becoming known for popular live rock shows in the US. In 1971 Humble Pie released their most successful record to date Rock On as well as a live album recorded at the Fillmore East in New York entitled Performance Rockin' the Fillmore. The live album reached #21 on the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA. "I Don't Need No Doctor" was an FM radio hit in the US peaking at #73 on the Billboard Hot 100, propelling the album up the charts. But Frampton left the band by the time the album was released and went on to enjoy success as a solo artist.
Frampton was replaced by Dave Clem Clempson and Humble Pie moved towards a harder sound emphasizing Marriott's blues and soul roots. Their first record with Clempson, Smokin', was released in 1972, along with two singles "Hot 'n' Nasty" and "30 Days in the Hole." It was the band's most commercially successful record, and reached #6 on the US charts, helped by a busy touring schedule. After the success of Smokin' the band's record label A&M released Humble Pie's first two Immediate albums in one double album, as Lost and Found. The marketing ploy was a success and the album charted at #37 on the Billboard 200. Looking for a more authentic R&B sound, Marriott hired three female backing vocalists, 'The Blackberries'. The trio consisted of Venetta Fields, Clydie King and Sherlie Matthews who was later replaced by Billie Barnum. They had performed with Ike and Tina Turner as The Ikettes and with Ray Charles as The Raelettes. This new line-up included Sidney George on saxophone for the recording of Eat It, a double album released in 1973 made up of Marriott originals (some acoustic), R&B covers, and a Humble Pie concert recorded in Glasgow . The album peaked at #13 in the US charts. Thunderbox was released in 1974, and Street Rats a year later. In 1975, joined by keyboardist Tim Hinkley, Humble Pie conducted their 'Goodbye Pie Tour' before disbanding.
In late 1979, Marriott revived Humble Pie with Jerry Shirley, adding Bobby Tench, former vocalist and guitarist from The Jeff Beck Group and bassist Anthony "Sooty" Jones, from New York. They submitted "Fool for a Pretty Face", a song Marriott and Shirley had just written, to record labels. They secured a recording contract with Atlantic Records subsidiary Atco and in the UK their material was released by Jet Records, owned by former Small Faces manager Don Arden. They recorded the album On to Victory (1980) and "Fool for a Pretty Face" reached #52 on the US Billboard Hot 100. On to Victory peaked at #60 on the Billboard 200. Humble Pie toured the US as part of the 'Rock 'N' Roll Marathon Bill' with Ted Nugent and Aerosmith and also recorded the album Go for the Throat (1981). This album was originally recorded by the band as a raw edged Rhythm and Blues album, but their record company chose to have them create a more produced album . At the beginning of the promotional tour for the Go for the Throat album, in April 1981, Marriott crushed his hand in a hotel room door, delaying earlier scheduled appearances by the band and he later developed a duodenal ulcer forcing the cancellation of all further tour dates in July 1981. Soon afterwards this line up disbanded, due to contractual differences.
In 1982 Marriott was back on the road with Jim Leverton (bass, backing vocals), former Steppenwolf keyboardist Goldy McJohn and Chicago born drummer Fallon Williams III. This grouping was originally set to be called The Official Receivers, The Three Trojans (after McJohn departed) or The Pie but ended up being billed by promoters as Humble Pie. McJohn was let go after suffering drug troubles and the remaining trio toured Australia in October 1982 billed mostly as The Small Faces to entice patrons. In January 1983 Leverton ran into trouble at U.S. Immigration and was deported back to England. Marriott based himself in the Atlanta, Georgia area, since that was where his second wife, Pamela Stephens, was from, and continued to tour clubs as Humble Pie. Atlanta musician Keith Christopher (from The Brains) took over bass and a young guitarist from Tennessee, Tommy Johnson, joined as well. And after a hoped for deal with Capricorn Records in nearby Macon fell through after that label's second collapse, this lineup went into Pyramid Eye Studios in Chattanooga, Tennessee to record three songs for a projected album, but nothing further came from it. After Johnson missed a show, he was replaced by Phil Dix. The band was then scheduled to record demos with Yes/ELP producer Eddy Offord at Eddy's studio in Atlanta with Rick Richards (also from The Brains and soon to find fame with the Georgia Satellites) as the new guitarist. But when Rick and Keith missed rehearsals, Steve was so mad that he not only fired Rick but Keith as well. The recordings were done with Fallon on drums and Dave Hewitt (ex-Babe Ruth (band)) on bass. But when these demos failed to attract another record deal and Pamela left Steve for another man, Steve disbanded this version of the Pie and departed the U.S. to return to England in late 1983.
Jerry Shirley obtained the rights to the name Humble Pie in 1988 and reformed the group with different musicians. This project was called New Humble Pie or Humble Pie featuring Jerry Shirley, where Shirley was the only original member. The band began performing concerts and was based in Cleveland, Ohio, where Shirley was working as an on air radio personality at Cleveland's WNCX. The line-up included vocalist Charlie Huhn, who also played lead and rhythm guitar. Huhn had previously worked with Ted Nugent, Gary Moore and Victory. While Huhn and Shirley were the only permanent members of the group, several other musicians appeared, including Wally Stocker formerly of The Babys, Rod Stewart's band and Air Supply and a returning Anthony "Sooty" Jones on bass. Jones was quickly replaced by Sean Beavan (who was engineering their 1989 independent single release "Still Rockin'" and went on to engineer, produce, and mix Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Slayer, System of a Down, No Doubt, Thrice and others). In August 1989 they appeared in the line-up at the Woodstock Festival's 20th Anniversary Celebration which was broadcast live on television in the United States and other countries. By 1990, Scott Allen had replaced Beavan on bass and a little later that year, Cleveland guitarist Alan Greene had joined in place of Stocker. Bassist Brad Johnson also did a stint with this lineup in the mid 90s. In December 1996 Shirley was let go from WNCX after money from a charity event was stolen. Shirley made good on the missing money and later sued the station for wrongful termination. In August 1999 he was seriously injured in an auto accident and after his recovery, he returned to England to reunite with his wife and children.
In 2000 Charlie Huhn continued on as Humble Pie without Shirley to fulfill dates already booked. Rick Craig (former lead guitarist of Halloween, MC5 and NOON with Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist Ean Evans), bassist Kent "Bubba" Gascoyne and drummer Jamie Darnell joined Huhn for this short lived 2000 version of Humble Pie. Michigan guitarist Patrick Thomas took Craig's place later that year. After the dates were completed, this grouping disbanded as Huhn went on to join Foghat to replace the recently deceased "Lonesome" Dave Peverett.
Frampton and Marriott started collaborating again in 1990. Two songs from this collaboration, "The Bigger They Come" and "I Won't Let You Down", with Steve Marriott's vocals, appeared on Frampton's album Shine On: A Collection. On 20 April 1991, Marriott died in a house fire, aged 44 years old.
Back in the U.K., Shirley re-formed Humble Pie again in 2001 with a line-up including the original bassist Greg Ridley, former Humble Pie vocalist and guitarist Bobby Tench and new rhythm guitarist Dave Colwell (ex-Bad Company). They recorded Humble Pie's thirteenth studio album, Back on Track (2002), which comprised new songs and was released by Sanctuary Records. Keyboard players Zoot Money and Victor Martin were brought in for recording sessions. A brief tour of UK and Germany with Company of Snakes followed with new keyboardist Dean Rees. But Ridley fell ill late in 2002 and the band split up.
Shirley had also appeared at the Steve Marriott Tribute Concert held at the London Astoria in 2001 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Marriott's death. The concert featured a grouping of early Humble Pie members Frampton, Clempson, Ridley and Shirley. Former Humble Pie guitarist Bobby Tench also appeared as the frontman for the house band, which included Zak Starkey from The Who and Oasis, keyboard player Rabbit Bundrick of The Who and bassist Rick Wills from Foreigner. This concert was released as a DVD by Chrome Dreams in 2005 entitled The Steve Marriott Astoria Memorial Concert 2001, and as an album with the title One More for the Ol' Tosser (2006).
Ridley died on 19 November 2003 in Alicante, Spain of pneumonia and resulting complications. He was 56.
- Performance Rockin' the Fillmore (1971) A&M #21 US, #32 UK
- King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents: In Concert Humble Pie Live 1973 (1995)
- Extended Versions (2000) BMG
- Natural Born Boogie: The BBC Sessions (2000) Fuel
- Live at the Whiskey A-Go-Go '69 (2002) Sanctuary
- Lost and Found (1973) A&M #37 US
- Back Home Again (1976) Immediate UK
- Best of Humble Pie (1982) A&M
- Classics Volume 14 (1987) A&M
- Early Years (1994) Griffin
- Hot n' Nasty: The Anthology (1994) A&M
- The Scrubbers Sessions (1997) Archive/Paradigm
- The Immediate Years: Natural Born Boogie (1999) Recall (UK)
- Running with the Pack (1999) Pilot
- Twentieth Century Masters: The Millennium Collection (2000) A&M
- The Atlanta Years (2005) previously unreleased studio album (1980) and live performance (1983)
- The Definitive Collection (2006)
- One More for the Old Tosser (2006)
- "Natural Born Bugie" / "Wrist Job" #4 UK (1969)
- "The Sad Bag of Shaky Jake" / "Cold Lady"
- "Big Black Dog" / "Strange Days"
- "Big Black Dog" / "Only a Roach" U.S.
- "Shine On" / "Mister Ring"
- "I Don't Need No Doctor" / "A Song for Jenny" #73 U.S.
- "Hot 'n' Nasty" / "You're So Good For Me" #52 U.S.
- "30 Days in the Hole" / "C'mon Everybody" / "Road Runner"
- "Get Down to It" / "Honky Tonk Women"
- "Shut Up and Don't Interrupt Me" / "Black Coffee" (1973)
- "Black Coffee" / "Say No More" #113 U.S.
- "Oh la de Da" / "The Outcrowd"
- "Ninety-Nine Pounds" / "Rally With Ali"
- "Rock and Roll Music" / "Scored Out" #105 U.S.
- "Fool for a Pretty Face" / "You Soppy Prat" (1980) #52 US (from Onto Victory)
- "Tin Soldier (song)" (1981) #58 US (from Go For The Throat)
Video games and DVDs
- "Cocaine" - Grand Theft Auto IV (2008) Rockstar North/Rockstar Toronto
- "Get Down to It" - on the fictitious radio station K-DST in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004) Rockstar North/Rockstar Games
- The Steve Marriott Astoria Memorial Concert 2001 (2005) Chrome Dreams
- Hewitt, Paulo and Hellier, John. Steve Marriott - All Too Beautiful... Helter Skelter (2005). ISBN 1-900924-44-7
- Best Seat in the House: Drumming in the '70s with Marriot, Frampton and Humble Pie by Jerry Shirley (Paperback - 1 Jun 2011)
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Image from Discogs