H U M B L E    P I E     “... A Little Army, Primed For Battle.”

Band Mate Profiles:


Dave “Clem” Clempson


Peter Frampton


Greg Ridley


Jerry Shirley



Iain’s Greg Ridley Interview

“On The Road with ... Pie”




After leaving Small Faces at, literally, the beginning of 1969, Steve Marriott joined the fledgling trio that he had helped to form, Humble Pie.  The group consisted of Peter Frampton (former Herd front man, guitar), Greg Ridley (Spooky Tooth, bass) and Jerry Shirley (Valkyrie, drums).  Marriott and Frampton were both considered “teen idols” at the time, so the joining of the two resulted in Humble Pie being tagged with another popular term of the era, “Super Group”. 

The formation of Humble Pie brought great expectations from the public and press alike, so, under a veil of secrecy, the four secluded themselves in the adjacent county of Essex, and began the creative process.  Most of the writing took place at Steve’s Beehive Cottage in Moreton, whilst the Village Hall of nearby Magdalen Laver was secured for rehearsal sessions.   

It was a productive time for the newly formed Pie, as two albums worth of material came from the process.  Contractual snags briefly delayed their release, but soon “As Safe Is Yesterday (Is)” was on the market, quickly followed by “Town and Country”, both on the Immediate label. The former spawned the hit single “Natural Born Boogie” and the group began appearances to promote sales of their newly released vinyls.  Whilst Marriott, Ridley and Frampton shared front man duties, concerts were musical marathons presented in two distinct parts.  The first was acoustic and mellow, many times performed by the four sitting on the stage floor barefooted, whilst the second half was plugged-in, louder and more rhythm & blues-influenced.  

When Immediate Records fell into financial disarray, Humble Pie was put into a period of limbo until A&M picked up their contract.  At the same time Dee Anthony was brought in to bring a change to the group’s management. This was to be a pivotal point in Pie’s career as the musical mood of the group shifted to a more rock and blues repertoire, which is evident in their next release in 1970, the self-titled “Humble Pie”.   

With Anthony in advance of the group, Humble Pie’s newest target was the United States, which was in the midst of the so-called “British Invasion”.  Young Yanks were hungry for all the Brit music they could consume, and a slice of Pie was a welcome addition to their plates, as the quartet embarked upon several stateside tours.  Their live act was now a blend of boogie and blues with Marriott coming to the fore as the primary front man, prompting co-leader Peter Frampton to move on to what would be a sporadically legendary solo career. 

It was at this same time “Rockin’ The Fillmore” was released, which would become known as one of the greatest live albums in rock history.  But with Frampton’s departure, a major portion of the Pie was missing and the search was on for a suitable replacement.   

Guitarist Dave “Clem” Clempson, who had played with Bakerloo and Colosseum, was recruited to fill the void left by Frampton.  With the success of “RTF” and the subsequent US release of the single “I Don’t Need No Doctor”, Humble Pie sent themselves into an even harder-edged direction.   The LP “Smokin” was released in 1972 and from it came fan favourites “Thirty Days In The Hole” and “Hot N Nasty”. Although these and other tunes received some FM airplay in the states, it was the band’s constant touring in support of the album that drove it to be their biggest selling album ever.

The early 70’s saw numerous Rock bands touring the States, all vying for American fans and dollars. Notable among them were Led Zeppelin, the Stones, and The Who. But Humble Pie, known as a consistantly great live act, held their own, selling out arenas coast-to-coast. In a recent interview Greg Ridley commented on the times, “We were a little army, primed for battle.”


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Whilst performing, Marriott was a dynamo.  Gone were the awkward on-stage moves of his Small Faces days, replaced by smooth, almost James Brown-like, routines using the entire length of the stage. Performances included his singing banter between songs, which along with the group’s powerful hard rocking set list, brought concertgoers to their collective feet.   

As the clear leader and front man of Humble Pie, Steve Marriott’s R&B roots and influences began to emerge more in the group’s studio work.  1973’s release of “Eat It” illustrates this, as one of the four sides was dedicated strictly to established R&B covers.  The other three consisted of original material, covers and a live set captured in Glasgow, Scotland.  The addition of The Blackberries (Clydie King, Venessa Fields and Billy Barnum), a trio of former Ike-ettes, also signaled the change in musical direction. 

With Blackberries alamode, the Pie toured in support of “Eat It” and once again brought down houses throughout the world.  Wild on-the-road antics were frequently reported during this time, and may have been signals of the beginning of the end of Humble Pie. 

Their next studio album, “Thunderbox” (1974), was lackluster at best, and was greeted as such by both the public and critics.  Individual members were beginning to pursue solo and other projects, even though A&M put out “Street Rats” in 1975, a roughly produced collection of material, which Pie members were reportedly never keen on releasing.  That same year, Steve Marriott and his band mates decided to stick a fork in the Pie, but not until completing a fairly successful “Goodbye Pie” tour.  

Following the breakup in 1975, former members involved themselves in several projects, none of which brought them the glory of their Pie days.  Jerry Shirley helped formed Natural Gas.  Greg Ridley and Dave Clempson joined with Cozy Powell in Strange Brew.  The two also worked with Marriott in Steve Marriott’s All Stars.  In the late 70’s Marriott along with Ian McLagen and Kenney Jones reformed Small Faces, resulting in two albums and tours. 

In 1980 Steve Marriott pushed to revive Humble Pie through contacting Shirley, Ridley and Clempson. Greg Ridley had virtually retired from the music business and Dave Clempson was undecided with several other projects on his plate.  Jerry Shirley jumped on-board and the two recruited veteran singer-guitarist Bob Tench and New York session player Anthony “Sooty” Jones on bass.  Tench was known for his work with the Jeff Beck Group, whilst Jones was well respected among American east coast musicians.  

The newly formed Humble Pie recorded “Go For The Throat”, which was released by A&M in 1980, followed by “On To Victory” in ’81.  Tours to promote sales followed each, but 1981 was plagued with difficulties beginning with Marriott breaking his wrist in a hotel room door accident and then being hospitalized with an ulcer.  The new Pie soon disintegrated, although the Humble Pie moniker was used at times to promote Marriott’s solo tour stops, reportedly much to his displeasure. 

Although reports vary as to who made the initial contact to start the process, Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton began to collaborate again in 1991, writing and recording new material.  Some say it was the beginning of an effort to reform the original Humble Pie, but it was not to be. 

The day after returning from recording in the States, April 21, a house fire at Steve Marriott’s cottage in Arkesden, Essex took the life of Humble Pie’s co-founder and leader. He was 44 years old.  The Marriott Era of Humble Pie had ended.

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