Finally the day for Uncle Sam to be released from jail arrived and the whole family along with friends and acquaintances gathered to give him a welcome home party he would remember. All day long preparations were made for the night’s celebration and the house was awash with food and alcohol of every description. When Sam finally walked through the door a huge cheer rang out and after the greeting and hugs the party got into full swing. Although dad had only been dead a few months and the pain was still tearing me apart inside, I really enjoyed myself that night and for a while forgot about the state of my life.
Uncle Sam was dad’s younger brother and was well respected throughout the estate and surrounding areas. He was lovable rogue and with his swarthy good looks and mischievous manner all that knew him loved him and all the local women fancied him. Also, more importantly he was a Loyalist Soldier and had served time for a cause he believed in.
For your information:
I am writing this as a ten year old child growing up in Loyalist West Belfast during the 1970’s and the worst years of the Troubles . My daily life was engulfed and controlled by the “war” going on around me and the loyalist paramilitaries lived and operated among us.
Many were friends and family and that was all perfectly normal in our world. At the time there was no escape from the madness that was stalking the streets of Belfast and many normal , honest , decent men joined the paramilitaries in response to the continuing and never ended terror campaign of the IRA and other republican groups. Sadly the paramilitaries also attracted many psychopathy killers whom used the “war” to feed their dark desires at the expense of the innocent.
As a loyalist child I was completely submerged in the Loyalist culture & traditions and at the time I was way to young to understand or differentiate between republican terrorists and the nationalist community and like those around me I had been raised from an early age to hate and mistrust all Catholics and the hated Antichrist in Rome.
Thankfully as I grew older my hatred of all Catholics faded and I was to go on to have many catholic friends during my mod days and later life.
Now I don’t judge any man or women based on their religious beliefs . In fact I don’t give two flying fecks who or what you worship, providing they are peaceful and respectful of all others , thats OK by me.
I still have a problem with Nationalism and the call for a United Ireland, but I respect democracy and peoples right to exercise their democratic rights. But that don’t mean I agree with them and I never will. That means I wish to maintain the status quo in Northern Ireland and hope and pray our people can learn to live more harmoniously together and our children have a better future than the long , dark soul destroying days my generation lived through
All male members of the family looked up to Uncle Sam and we all wanted to be just like him when we grew up. That night we were permitted to stay up into the wee hours and when the adults were full of drink the talk soon turned to dad and I was proud to hear them all talk about what a great man dad was and how they all missed him terribly and wished things could be different.
Although we were a very close family, we were typical of the area and emotions were something men never showed and that night I felt proud when I went to bed, knowing that dad’s memory would live long in this house and others were sharing my grief at losing him.
After Uncle Sam had settled back into life outside jail, his thoughts naturally turned to how he could earning a living and bring some money in for the family. Whilst in jail he had done a course in painting and decorating and on his release he let it become known around the estate that he was available for hire at a very reasonable rate. Before long the work started to come in and if he had a job at the weekend Wee Sam and I went with him and helped in any way he seen fit, which included cleaning up the mess behind him and making endless cups of tea. If we were really lucky and the owner of the house was out, Uncle Sam would sit chain smoking and watch us paint the bottom section of the wall to the best of our ability. At first he was making good money and Wee Sam and I were more than pleased with the few quid he give us after completely the job.
After a while the work started to dry up and Uncle Sam pondered long and hard to come up with a new means of earning some money.
Suddenly one day he proclaimed that he was going to set up a door to door business selling firewood and half an half later the three of us were on our way to Glencairn Park behind the house , with a wheel barrel and a chain saw he had borrowed from a reluctant neighbour. When we had walk some way into the forest Uncle Sam stops, gazed around for a moment and before we knew what was happening shouted “ timber” as the tree first let out an agonizing groan and thundered to the ground below.
After Uncle Sam had chopped the tree into manageable sizes, wee Sam and I loaded the wheel barrel with as much as possible and taking a handle each swayed our way back to the house were we dumped the wood in the back garden and went back for more. Later that night we all gathered in the back garden and bagged the wood into bags , before setting off and selling it door to door around the estate. After a short time money was pouring in and we had established a large client basis throughout the estate.
Although what we were doing was highly illegal, we carried on oblivious to the laws we were breaking and chopped down trees on an industrial scale. In Glencairn and the surrounding areas we followed our own rules and pretty much ignored the laws of the land. Business was that good I was able to save enough money to buy myself a second hand chopper from the bike shop down the Shankill. Sadly all good things come to an end and one day as we were making our way to our favourite felling spot, a team from the forestry department apprehended us and Uncle Sam was read the riot act.
The game was up and we watched with shock as Uncle Sam shamelessly agreed to everything they were saying and promised never to do it again. Wee Sam and I were bitterly disappointed and begged Uncle Sam to chance his mind. As we made our way home empty handed he explained that because he was out on licence, the last thing he need was the police paying him too much attention or he might end up inside again. What he said made perfect sense and Wee Sam and I reluctantly agree with him. “Besides, as Uncle Sam pointed out winter would soon be over and sales would dry up with the changing weather.
Another scheme Uncle Sam got me involved in was selling his UDA sweepstake cards. As a member of the UDA he was not only expected to pay a weekly donation or dues to the cause, he was also expected to help raise money for loyalist prisoners and their families. The UDA was run along very strict guidelines and had its own welfare department that raised and distributed money were most needed. This was done in a variety of ways, mostly illegal and generated huge sums of money for the organisation.
At the weekly meeting sweep cards were handed out to all present to sell and most members would take £25.00 quid’s worth and sell then to their friends and family. As with anything he couldn’t be arsed to do it himself, he recruited Wee Sam and me.One Saturday he handed us a bundle of sweep stakes and told us if we sold them all he would give us two quid each, which sounded like a fair deal to me. After giving us instructions on what we were selling and how best to sell them and how much they costed, he sent us of and told us not to return until they were all sold.
He would wait for us in community centre, he informed us solemnly as though he was getting the short end of the stick, when in fact we knew that he would be having a few pints and playing cards with his mates.
Equipped with the necessary information wee Sam headed to the top of the estate and I headed to the bottom and knocked on the first door I came to. After a moment or two a woman’s head appeared round the door and I immediately went into my sales pitch, which I had been working on for a few days and perfected on the walk down the Road.
“Excuse me misses, would you like to buy one of these?
You write your name, pick two numbers between 1 and 50 and if you win you win £25.00.
Price 20p a go,…
most people buy a sheet of five and its only £1.00 in total…….Oh and the profits go to the prisoners and their families “
“Ah…god love you love, thinking of the prisoners. Go on”, I’ll have two sheets she replied”
and I was in business.
I took this like a duck to water and before long I was outselling Wee Sam on an embarrassing g scale. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was a natural sales man and years later would have a successful career in London selling everything from life insurance to industrial chemicals, but much more of that later.
Eventually Wee Sam threw the towel in and I took over the whole operation. That’s not to say it was always easy. Lots of people turned me away, some were nice about it and others told me fuck off and never darken their door again. but even back then I was a natural sales man and the insults just rolled over my head and I apologized for interrupting them and wishing them a good day I made my way next door and another potential sale.
It wasn’t long before I had built up a substantial client basis and when on the job I knew exactly which houses to call at and which were best avoided. For my efforts I got £2.00, which was duly spend on sweets and other treats I had promised myself.
As I pounded the Roads of Glencairn selling my sweep stakes the war raged on around me and like most people I took it in my stride. I took some pride in the face that I was contributing to the cause, by raising money for the prisoners and their families . One morning when we were all getting ready to leave the house for school, there was a sudden commotion outside the front door and we all rushed into the front garden to see what was happening.
There were loads of armed RUC personnel frantically running from door to door, evacuating the inhabitants into the field outside the community centre. Uncle Sam and Gerry gathered us all up and we went to join the dozens of other families milling about the field. After having a chat with one of the local leaders we heard Uncle Sam explain to Gerry that the IRA had planted a bomb under the car of one of our neighbours, who was a member of the UDR ( Ulster Defence Regiment ) .
This news sent waves of fear and anger through the gathered crowd. How dare the IRA enter our estate in the dead of night and try to kill one of our people. Apparently the man in question had left the house to check the car over before dropping his children at school and going through his normal security checks had discovered the bomb under the passenger’s side of the vehicle. Had he been less vigilant the bomb would have gone off killing not only him, but also his three children and anyone else in the vicinity. This relisation filled everyone gathered with outrage and resentment and once again our hatred of the IRA and their Catholic supporters was justified.
After they were sure that everyone in the immediate vicinity was evacuated, the army bomb disposal unit sent a robot in to detonate the bomb and we all watched in awe as the ground below us shook violently and the robot along with large sections of the car was blown high into the sky to smithereens. We were all kept of school that day and naturally the talk was of how close we had been to being caught up in the bomb that morning and possibly being killed. Wee Sam and I knew the children of the man in question and often played with them after school, so it was with sadness that a few days later we watched them pack their belongings onto a removal van and drive out of the estate never to be seen again.
Like Wee Sam, David and Pickle I felt an immense hatred towards Catholics and Nationalists that day and longed for the day I would be old enough to take up arms and join the war against the IRA and their Catholic supporters. Although I was too young to understand the complexities of the conflict between us and the nationalists I understood that we hadn’t started this war and all the pain and suffering in Northern Ireland was a direct result of the IRA and nationalist call for a united Ireland.
Northern Ireland’s Protestants were a remnant of colonial Britain and we clung to our sovernty like a comfort blanket and the IRA & nationalists were trying to rip our blanket away from us. We felt abandoned and Britain seemed to have turn her back on us The Americans and wider outside world sympathised with the romantic notion of a United Ireland and offered us no support. No one seemed to understand our position and we were living under the brutal, daily menace of the most brutal terrorist organisation of the century and this isolation feed the fears of the loyalist and ensured a steady stream of new recruits for the loyalist paramilitary groups.
During the mid 70s relationships between the two warring sides had reached a new low and innocent people from both sides became legitimate targets in tit-for-tat murder campaign like never before, between the nationalists and loyalist paramilitaries. The violence was out of control and as a child I watched in horror and disgust as the nightly news told of the latest IRA atrocity, as the death toll mounted. Like most of the people around me I rejoiced when news of an IRA or other republican member being killed or even better executed came through and I mourned the passing of any loyalist killed. I hated Catholics with a passion and blamed them on all the troubles of our country and like all around me I saw them as my natural enemy. In response to the increase of IRA atrocities and through self-preservation the loyalist paramilitaries, with the blessing of their people, stepped up the campaign and the streets of Belfast flowed with the blood of the innocent and guilty alike.
Stephen Peter “Steve” Marriott (30 January 1947 – 20 April 1991) was an English musician, songwriter and frontman of two notable rock and roll bands, spanning over two decades. Marriott is remembered for his powerful singing voice which belied his small stature, and for his aggressive approach as a guitarist in mod rock bands Small Faces (1965–1969) and Humble Pie (1969–1975 and 1980–1981).
Steve Marriott’s Life in Pictures
Marriott was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 as a member of Small Faces.
In Britain, Marriott became a popular, often-photographed mod style icon through his role as lead singer and guitarist with the Small Faces in the mid to late 1960s.
Marriott was influenced from an early age by his heroes including Buddy Holly, Booker T & the MG’s, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Muddy Waters and Bobby Bland. In later life Marriott became disillusioned with the music industry and turned his back on the big record companies, remaining in relative obscurity. He returned to his music roots playing the pubs and clubs around London and Essex.
The Life & Times Of Steve Marriott
Marriott died on 20 April 1991 when a fire, thought to have been caused by a cigarette, swept through his 16th century home in Arkesden, Essex.
He posthumously received an Ivor Novello Award in 1996 for his Outstanding Contribution to British Music and was listed in Mojo as one of the top 100 greatest singers of all time.
Black Sabbath frontman, Ozzy Osbourne, named Marriott the fourth greatest singer and Clem Burke of Blondie named him the sixteenth greatest singer.
Paul Stanley of Kiss has said:
“He had a great voice” and went on to say, “Steve Marriott was unbelievable”.
Keith Richards listed Marriott as one of his five favourite artists of all time. Steve Perry of Journey has said that:
“One of my favourite vocalists was Steve Marriott”
Steve Marriott was born on 30 January 1947 at East Ham Hospital, Forest Gate, (now London, E7), England to parents Kay and Bill Marriott who lived at Strone Road, Manor Park. Born three weeks premature and weighing just 4 lb. 4 oz., he developed jaundice and was kept in hospital four weeks before being well enough to go home.
Marriott came from a working-class background and attended Monega Junior School. His father Bill worked as a printer and later owned a jellied eels stall called ‘Bill’s Eels’ outside the Ruskin Arms. For a short time he also sold pie and mash.
Kay worked at the Tate & Lyle factory in Silvertown. Bill was an accomplished pub pianist and the life and soul of many an ‘East End’ night. Bill bought Marriott a ukulele and harmonica which Marriott taught himself to play.
Marriott showed an early interest in singing and performing, busking at local bus-stops for extra pocket money and winning talent contests during the family’s annual holiday to Jaywick Holiday camp near Clacton-on-Sea.
In 1959 at the age of twelve, Marriott formed his first band with school friends Nigel Chapin and Robin Andrews. They were called ‘The Wheels’, later the ‘Coronation Kids’, and finally ‘Mississippi Five’. They later added Simon Simkins and Vic Dixon to their line-up.
From a young age, Marriott was a huge fan of American singer Buddy Holly and would mimic his hero by wearing large-rimmed spectacles with the lenses removed. He wrote his first song, called “Shelia My Dear,” after his aunt Shelia to whom he was close. Those who heard the song said it was played at a jaunty pace in the style of Buddy Holly and his bandmates also nicknamed him ‘Buddy’. They would play the local coffee bars in East Ham and perform Saturday morning gigs at the Essoldo Cinema in Manor Park.
Marriott was a cheeky, hyperactive child, according to his mother Kay, and well known by his neighbours in Strone Road for playing pranks and practical jokes.
While he was a pupil at local Sandringham Secondary Modern School, Marriott was said to be responsible for deliberately starting a fire in a classroom though he always denied this.
In 1960, Bill Marriott spotted an advertisement in a London newspaper for a new Artful Dodger replacement to appear in Lionel Bart’s popular musical Oliver!, based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, at the New Theatre (now called the Noël Coward Theatre) in London’s West End, and without telling his son, applied for him to audition.
At the age of thirteen, Marriott auditioned for the role. He sang two songs, “Who’s Sorry Now” by Connie Francis, and “Oh, Boy!” by Buddy Holly.
Bart was impressed with Marriott’s vocal abilities and hired him. Marriott stayed with the show for a total of twelve months, playing various boys’ roles during his time there, for which he was paid £8 a week. Marriott was also chosen to provide lead vocals for the Artful Dodger songs “Consider Yourself”, “Be Back Soon,” and “I’d Do Anything,” which appear on the official album to the stage show, released by World Record Club and recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios. In 1961 the Marriott family moved from Strone Road to a brand new council flat in Daines Close, Manor Park.
Following Marriott’s successful acting debut in Oliver!, his family encouraged him to pursue an acting career. In 1961 he auditioned and was accepted as a student at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London. Because his family were unable to afford the private school fees, it was mutually agreed the fees would be deducted from acting work the school found him. After Marriott’s enrolment at the Italia Conti Academy, he quickly gained acting roles, working consistently in film, television and radio, often typecast as the energetic Cockney kid. Soon he lost interest in acting and turned his attention back to his first love, which was music.
His parents were devastated and his decision to give up acting caused a family rift. As a result, he left the family home for a short period to stay with friends.
In 1963, Marriott wrote “Imaginary Love” and touted it around the big record labels in London. On the strength of “Imaginary Love”, Marriott secured a Decca Records deal as a solo artist with Dick Reagan (also an agent for Cliff Richard). Marriott’s first single was a song written by Kenny Lynch, “Give Her My Regards”, with Marriott’s self-penned song as the B-side. The single was released in July 1963 and promptly vanished.
In the same year Marriott formed the Moments, originally called the Frantiks. The Frantiks recorded a cover version of Cliff Richard’s song “Move It” with ex-Shadows drummer Tony Meehan, who was brought in to help with production. Despite the single being hawked around the major record companies, no one was interested and the song was consequently never released. They then changed the band’s name to the Moments or ‘Marriott and his Moments’. They played support for artists such as the Nashville Teens, the Animals, Georgie Fame and John Mayall, playing venues such as the 100 Club in Soho, London, and the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond. The Moments gained a loyal following, and for a short time had their own fanzine Beat ’64, dedicated to ‘Steve Marriott’s Moments’, started by Stuart Tuck.
They are noted as performing a total of 80 gigs in 1964. The group was asked to record a single for the American market, a cover version of the Kinks’ UK hit song “You Really Got Me”, released on the World Artists record label (1964).
The Kinks You really got me
When their version of “You Really Got Me” failed to get attention, Marriott was dropped from the band, with members claiming he was too young to be a lead singer. According to London R&B band The Downliners Sect frontman Don Craine, Marriott applied to join the band as a replacement harmonica player. Craine did not invite him to audition as he knew Marriott wanted to be lead vocalist.
Between leaving the Moments and joining The Small Faces, Steve Marriott joined The Checkpoints. Chris Clements:
“He actually approached us (The Checkpoints) and said he needed to fulfill some gigs that were pending. This was in 1965, he was with us for a couple of months. We rehearsed at The Kentish Drovers in the Old Kent Road in South London. He got us to learn James Brown numbers, which at the time we weren’t very up in. One particular memory sticks in my mind. When we rehearsed with him, he almost spoke the words of the song, rather than sang the words. He was listening to us, making sure we got the backing right, so he didn’t put himself out vocally.
But when we did the first gig with him, out came this fantastic soul voice, we all looked at each other, and our mouths fell open! When doing the gigs, we would pick him up outside the Brewery in Romford road Essex. He always had a small case with his harmonicas in. His harmonica playing was excellent.
Our transport at that time was a converted ambulance, and Steve would always sit up front with the owner driver, (a man in his early 50s) rather than sit in the back talking to us. He seemed to me to be a bit of a loner. Even when I had a conversation with him, he always seemed to be looking past me, as though in a hurry to be somewhere else. He was quite a heavy smoker as I recall. We did various venues in Essex, around the Basildon area. He had no guitar, he would use our lead guitarist’s red Fender Strat. Steve would put many guitar breaks in the James Brown songs. So we would all huddle around our drummer Gary Hyde who would watch Steve.
When Gary stopped, we stopped, when Gary started, we started, so by using those tactics the gigs went well. We had photos taken at the various venues at that time, I wish someone would dig them out from wherever, I would love to see them.”
On 28 July 1964, Marriott first saw his future Small Faces partners, Ronnie Lane and 16-year-old drummer Kenney Jones. They were all performing at the Albion in Rainham, with their bands. Lane and Marriott met again by chance in the J60 Music Bar, a music shop in High Street North, Manor Park, where Marriott was working after his recent departure from the Moments. Lane came in looking to purchase a bass guitar, and afterwards was invited to Marriott’s home to listen to his extensive collection of rare American R&B import records.
With their shared love of R&B the trio were soon firm friends. Marriott was invited by Lane and Jones to perform with “the Outlaws” (previously called “the Pioneers”) at the band’s regular gig the Earl of Derby in Bermondsey.
However the trio each ended up completely drunk and Marriott enthusiastically destroyed the piano he was playing, much to the amusement of Lane and Jones. The landlord sacked them and the band was finished. According to David Bowie on a 1999 episode of VH1 Storytellers, in 1964 he and his good friend Marriott planned to form an R&B duo called ‘David and Goliath’.
Instead, Marriott, Lane and Jones decided to form their own band, with Steve bringing along his acquaintance, Jimmy Winston (Winston was later replaced by Ian McLagan). Marriott’s friend Annabel, an ex-student from the Italia Conti, came up with the band’s distinctive name after commenting that they all had “small faces”; the name stuck in part because they were all (apart from Winston) small (none being over 5 ft 6 in tall), and the term “face” in English mod culture was the name given to a well-known and respected mod.
Small Faces were signed to Don Arden within six weeks of forming and quickly became a successful mod band highly regarded by the youth cult’s followers when their debut single “Whatcha Gonna Do About It” hit the UK singles chart.
What’cha gonna do about it – Small Faces
Later, they were said to be one of many influences on the formation and musical style of British hard rock group Led Zeppelin . Marriott is reputed to have been Jimmy Page’s benchmark when selecting a lead singer, and there are unmistakable stylistic and timbral similarities between the voices of Marriott and Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin’s lead singer.
In fact, Plant was a fan of Small Faces and a regular at their early gigs where he also ran small errands for them. Zeppelin’s classic song “Whole Lotta Love” is a direct take of Marriott’s version of the classic song “You Need Lovin'”, originally written by Willie Dixon and recorded by American blues singer Muddy Waters.
The Small Faces – You Need Loving
Small Faces would regularly perform “You Need Lovin'” in their live set, and the song also appears on their debut album Small Faces, released by Decca in May 1966.
“It was fantastic, I loved it, Muddy Waters recorded it but I couldn’t sing like Muddy Waters so it wasn’t that much of a nick. I was a high range and Muddy was a low range so I had to figure out how to sing it. So I did and that was our opening number for all the years we were together. Every time we were on stage that was our opening number, unless we had a short set. That’s where Jimmy Page and Robert Plant heard it. Robert Plant used to follow us around. He was like a fan.”
However Marriott bore no animosity to Plant. He is quoted as shouting “Go on my son!” and wishing him luck when he first heard Plant’s version on the radio. Arden paid the band a wage of £20 a week each, along with accounts in clothes shops in Carnaby Street.
On Boxing Day, 1965, Arden arranged for them to move into a rented house, 22 Westmoreland Terrace, Pimlico. In his autobiography, McLagan describes the house as “party central”, a place where the likes of Marianne Faithfull, Brian Epstein, Pete Townshend and other celebrities would hang out. Marriott was just 18 years old.
Small Faces – All or Nothing 1966
Marriott wrote or co-wrote most of Small Faces’ hit singles. In an interview in 1984, Marriott was asked what his best Small Faces songs were:
“I think ‘All or Nothing’, that I wrote, takes a lot of beating. To me, if there’s a song that typifies that era, then that might be it. Words regardless, cos it’s only a silly love song, but the actual feel and arrangement of the thing, and maybe ‘Tin Soldier'”.
Small Faces – Tin Soldier
In 1967, Marriott wrote the evocative rock-ballad “Tin Soldier” to woo model Jenny Rylance. They first met in 1966 and Marriott was immediately smitten, but Rylance was dating up-and-coming singer Rod Stewart and so the two became friends. She later broke up with Stewart and had a brief romantic liaison with Marriott, but much to his disappointment ended it to go back to Stewart. Rylance and Stewart later split for good after a rocky four-year relationship; when Marriott found out he pursued her relentlessly, leading him to write “Tin Soldier”. The song was a hit for the band in 1967 and for Marriott a personal triumph.
He and Rylance were married at Kensington Register Office, London, on 29 May 1968.
Small Faces – Itchycoo Park
Relationships and family
Marriott had liaisons with many women and had four known children with four of them, including one of his three wives. His first wife was model Jenny Rylance (1968-1973).
He met American air hostess, Pam Stephens in 1975 and their son Toby was born in 1976. They married after Toby was born.
His third wife was Toni Poulton. They were married until Marriott’s death in 1991. He also had three daughters. The first, Lesley, was conceived to fellow teen Sally Foulger before Marriott became famous. She was originally known as Sarah Lisa Foulger (born 9 June 1966). She was adopted out, but later found out who her father was and has been accepted by her siblings. The second was Tonya, with Canadian Terri Elias in 1984. His third daughter Mollie Mae was born in 1985 when Marriott was with his childhood friend Manon Piercey.
Later Marriott moved into Beehive Cottage in Moreton, Essex, a property he had bought jointly with Ronnie Lane and wife Susan and where he established his “Clear Sounds” music studio.
In 1967, after a dispute over unpaid royalties, relations between the Small Faces and Don Arden broke down and Arden sold them on to Andrew Loog Oldham, who owned the Immediate Records label. The band were much happier at Immediate, spending more time in the recording studio and far less time playing live; however, they lost the dynamic live sound that had made them famous.
Small Faces – Ogdens´ Nut Gone Flake – Full record
After the success of the group’s number one hit concept album Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake Marriott was keen for the group to evolve and wanted to bring in ex-Herd frontman Peter Frampton, but McLagan, Jones and Lane refused.
Marriott started to feel the band had reached the end creatively and began to spend more time with Frampton and Greg Ridley. After rumours in the press about the band splitting up, which were always officially denied, Marriott quit the group, storming off stage during a disastrous live performance on New Year’s Eve, 1968.
In a 1984 interview with NME reporter Paolo Hewitt on the subject of leaving the band, Marriott said:
“You grow apart for Christsakes. You’re talking about people living together from the ages of seventeen to twenty-two and that’s a growing up part of your life and we got to hate each other, no doubt about it. We didn’t speak to each other for fucking years. Maybe ten years.”
Frampton claims that after Marriott’s departure from the Small Faces, the remaining members, Lane, McLagan and Jones, turned up at his home and offered him Marriott’s role in the band. (Ian McLagan vehemently denied this story).
“The following day after the Alexandra Palace gig (where Steve walked off), I was back home and I got a call from Ronnie Lane who said, ‘Me, Kenney and Mac would like to come round and see you.’ I thought, Hello, what’s all this about? Anyway, they all came round to my horrible little flat in Earls Court and asked me to join the Small Faces. All I could say was it’s a bit late now. Why couldn’t you have asked me while we were in Paris? We’d all be in the same band together and Steve wouldn’t have left.”
– Peter Frampton.
Marriott with Humble Pie during a 1972 performance
Shortly after leaving Small Faces, Marriott joined the newly formed rock band Humble Pie with Peter Frampton, drummer Jerry Shirley and bassist Greg Ridley. In the early years, Humble Pie allowed Marriott the artistic freedom he craved but was denied in Small Faces due, in part, to commercial pressures and individual differences.
Humble Pie – As Safe As Yesterday – Full Album 1969
After extensive secret rehearsals at his Clear Sounds home recording studio, the band released on Immediate their debut album As Safe As Yesterday Is, closely followed by the Marriott-penned debut single “Natural Born Bugie” (often mis-spelt “Boogie”), which peaked at No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart in the summer of 1969.
Humble Pie – Natural born boogie 1969
Humble Pie almost disbanded after their first American tour when they returned to Britain and discovered that Immediate had gone into liquidation. They transferred to A&M Records and focused all their attention on the lucrative US market. Their new manager, Dee Anthony, had the band scrap its ‘unplugged’ set and crank the volume up.
Humble Pie toured constantly over the next three years, completing nineteen tours in the US alone. The band’s next album releases, Humble Pie and Rock On, benefitted from their touring.
Humble Pie Performance Rockin’ The Fillmore FULL ALBUM
Their live album Performance Rockin’ the Fillmore (1971) became the band’s most successful release to date. During these recordings, Marriott’s strong vocal performances became the focal point of the band. Dee Anthony pushed Marriott to take more of the on-stage spotlight, something he had, up to then, been sharing with Frampton and Ridley. Marriott’s new prominence is said to have resulted in Frampton’s decision to leave the band. (Frampton was replaced by Clem Clempson.)
Some close to Marriott, such as his wife and even Marriott himself, would say that his personality changed for the worse when he toured America. Eventually, possibly as a result of excessive alcohol and drug use, Marriott started showing signs of mild schizophrenia. He had regularly taken amphetamines (speed) and smoked cannabis in his days in the Moments and Small Faces, and in the latter half of the 1960s he also tried LSD. But by the time Humble Pie began to tour America regularly in the early 1970s, Marriott allegedly developed a destructive cocaine and alcohol addiction, which is thought to have been the cause of his marriage break-ups and to have contributed to his premature death in a house fire.
“He (Steve) became another person to cope with the pressures, he would say things like, “Please tell me that you’ll leave me if I go on tour again because if you say that I’ll have justification not to go, if I go and have to be that other person again I’ll just go mad.”
” This would be said in a moment of truth but the next day had changed his mind and he’d be up and off…. He was married to his music and I didn’t mind that especially in the early years when he would play me new songs on an acoustic guitar but what didn’t make me happy was when he was in the home studio, out of his brain, trying to come up with the next album because he was being pressurised into it. He would just disappear into the studio for three or four days at a time. He never slept and there would be all sorts of strange people in there with him. It was a crazy business and even the nicest people get mixed up. All sorts of chemicals were presented to him and he became addicted to them in the end. It was drugs that destroyed our relationship. Before the home studio was built Beehive Cottage was our sanctuary, afterwards it just became his workplace.”
– Jenny Rylance
Rylance finally left Marriott in 1973. She said:
“The drugs and the drink I would tolerate no more. It broke my heart to leave Steve but it had to be done, I was ultimately the stronger”.
Due to the break-up of his marriage and growing drug use, some band members said that Marriott at times became domineering, aggressive and intolerable to work with. Humble Pie disbanded in 1975, citing musical differences as the reason for the split. Financial mismanagement and widespread substance abuse within the band also played a part. In an interview in 2000 with John Hellier,
Jerry Shirley said:
“We were all doing too many drugs, we’d lost sight of our business arrangements and no-one within the band had any control over money matters. But the main reason was that we were making bad records, it all came to a head in early 1975. The rot had set in so deep it was inevitable.”
– Jerry Shirley
Marriott always believed Dee Anthony had syphoned off band earnings to promote his new project, Frampton, and his album Frampton Comes Alive. After Marriott’s death, second wife Pam Stephens claimed in an interview that while they were making the Marriott solo album they were warned off accusing Anthony of any financial misdealings and received threatening phone calls. Anthony was alleged to have links with the Genovese crime family (among others). She also claimed that after Marriott confronted Anthony about the missing money, she and Marriott were summoned to a meeting at the Ravenite Social Club on Mulberry Street in New York’s Little Italy district.
Among those present were John Gotti, Frank Locascio and Paul Castellano, all members of the Gambino crime family. Marriott was informed that he would not be getting any money and was warned to drop the matter. Marriott took the threats seriously.
Solo and various bands
Marriott released his first solo album, Marriott, in 1976 and moved back to Britain. Stephens gave birth to their first child Toby on 20 February 1976 and they were married on 23 March 1977, at Chelsea Register Office in London.
The money from Humble Pie’s farewell tour soon ran out, and Marriott was reduced to stealing vegetables from a field next to his home. He went on to form the Steve Marriott Allstars with ex-Pie bassist Greg Ridley, drummer Ian Wallace and ex-Heavy Metal Kids’ guitarist Mickey Finn, and found a new manager, Laurie O’Leary.
STEVE MARRIOTT’S ALL STARS
In the 1980s O’Leary asked Marriott to meet a friend of his, the infamous Ronnie Kray, who was incarcerated in Broadmoor Hospital for the murder of George Cornell.
Marriott gave him a signed photo.
After the departure of Mick Taylor in 1975 from the Rolling Stones, Marriott was considered as his replacement; however, Mick Jagger allegedly blocked the move after Marriott upstaged him during the audition. According to Ronnie Wood in his autobiography Ronnie, Marriott was Richards’ first choice to replace Mick Taylor.
“Steve told me, ‘I was good and stood at the back for a while but then Keith would hit this lick and I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut.’ Keith wanted him in but there was no way that once Steve opened his mouth Mick would have him in the band. He knew Steve would never stay in the background. They were the one band in the world that Steve would have loved to have been in. He just wanted to work with Keith.”
– Pam Marriott
In 1976 a court ruled that Arden still owed the Small Faces £12,000 in unpaid royalties. He agreed to pay in monthly instalments, but disappeared after making just one payment.
Due to the success of re-released singles “Itchycoo Park” and “Lazy Sunday” in 1975 and 1976, McLagan, Jones and Marriott were persuaded to re-form Small Faces.
Rick Wills took the place of Lane, who pulled out after just two rehearsals. Unknown to the others, Lane was suffering from multiple sclerosis. The band recorded two albums, Playmates and ’78 in the Shade, but the albums were both critical and commercial failures and they disbanded. Marriott did not make any money out of the venture. His earnings were used to extricate him from old binding management contracts. Due to financial problems, Marriott was forced to sell Beehive Cottage, which had been his home since 1968, and move to a small terraced house in Golders Green, London.
Late in 1978, the Inland Revenue informed Marriott that he still owed £100,000 in back tax from his Humble Pie days; he thought manager Dee Anthony had made all the necessary payments.
O’Leary, Marriott’s manager, advised him to leave Britain or go to prison.
He sold the house in Golders Green and moved to California. Marriott, Pam and son Toby were staying with friends in Santa Cruz and Marriott formed a new band called The Firm, with Jim Leverton and (most notably) former Mountain guitarist Leslie West. But after Leverton had to leave the US due to visa problems, and disputes over potential royalties, the band broke up.
Marriott was by now completely broke and forced to collect empty glass bottles to redeem them for small change. According to Leslie West, Steve needed the money and accepted a lucrative offer to reform Humble Pie.
In 1980, Marriott contacted Jerry Shirley, who was living in New York City, to discuss a Humble Pie reunion. Shirley agreed and they recorded “Fool for a Pretty Face”, which Marriott had written earlier.
Fool For A Pretty Face – Humble Pie
The new line-up included Anthony “Sooty” Jones, who was well respected among American east coast musicians, also vocalist and guitarist Bobby Tench, former member of the Jeff Beck Group. The song proved good enough for them to secure a recording contract with Atco.
In the UK their material was released by Jet Records, owned by ex-Small Faces manager Don Arden. They recorded the heavy rock album On to Victory (1980), followed by Go for the Throat (1981), and both proved reasonably successful. They also toured America as part of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon bill. In the latter half of 1981, Marriott was beset with personal problems. His marriage was almost over and after he broke his wrist in an accident and was hospitalised with a suspected burst ulcer, whilst opening for Judas Priest and the new Humble Pie line-up disintegrated.
During a visit to Britain in 1981, Marriott became eager to see Ronnie Lane. By this time Lane had begun to use a wheelchair. After an emotional meeting, Marriott suggested they gig together. They got together with Jim Leverton, Mick Weaver, Dave Hynes, Zoot Money and Mel Collins to record an album called Majik Mijits. The album features songs by Lane and Marriott, though none were co-written.
Due to Lane’s illness, they were unable to tour and promote the album.
“Steve and Ronnie went to America to see Clive Davis of Arista Records. They played him the tape. Clive Davis was tapping his foot and tapping his very expensive pen on his very expensive desk. He said “Yeah, that’s great man”. Steve said “So you like the tape, Clive”. Steve then stopped the tape, ejected it and said “WELL YOU CAN’T FUCKING HAVE IT!”
“The story that Steve told me was that it would have meant touring and Ronnie just wasn’t up to it. It would have meant pretty much carrying him everywhere, no tour, no album. That’s why the Mijits never came out at that point in time. It’s been gathering dust for ages”
– Jim Leverton
The album was released nineteen years later. After the Majik Mijits, Marriott went back to New York playing on the club circuit again. For the next year and a half, Marriott was on the road with Jim Leverton, Goldy McJohn and Fallon Williams. They played mostly Small Faces and Humble Pie material, touring non-stop for the next eighteen months. After the departure of McJohn, the trio changed the band’s name to the Three Trojans.
Despite attempts at reconciliation, Marriott’s marriage finally came to an end when his wife found out that Marriott was expecting a child with Terry Elias, a Canadian girl he had met while they were separated.
Accepting that his marriage was over, Marriott moved back to the UK. With no home and no money, he stayed in the spare bedroom of his sister Kay’s house. Marriott formed Packet of Three again playing the pub circuit. He insisted on being paid for each gig in cash as the Inland Revenue were still pursuing him for back taxes. In August 1984, Aura Records released Steve Marriott Live at Dingwalls 6.7.84.
Marriott contacted longtime friend Manon Piercey, and they quickly developed a close relationship and rented a house together. Piercey gave birth to daughter Mollie Mae on 3 May 1985.
With Piercey’s help, Marriott reduced his excessive drink and drug habits. His sister Kay said:
“Steve would say, I’m not drinking any more, and he’d stop, six weeks, two months, he was very strong willed; if he wanted to, he could”.
In 1985 Marriott was still touring with Packet of Three playing Canada, America and Europe.
During Live Aid in 1985, London-based Phoenix Modernist Society joined mod revival bands such as the Lambrettas and Purple Hearts, with 1960s stars such as Chris Farlowe and PP Arnold. Together they cut a version of “All or Nothing” for Band Aid Trust. Kenny Lynch persuaded Marriott to get involved, and the single was released under the collective name the Spectrum.
In 1985, Marriott ended his relationship with Piercey when he met Poulton at a Packet of Three gig.
Due to his financial situation, Marriott jokingly later renamed the group Steve Marriott and the Official Receivers. In the mid-1980s Marriott and Poulton moved to a rented cottage in the small village of Arkesden.
The 16th century cottage was also used for location shots for the home of the title character in the BBC’s long-running television series Lovejoy, starring Ian McShane. Marriott became well-known locally, often popping into the pub opposite his home to buy bottles of brandy and borrowing glasses. He once turned up wearing trainers and a dressing gown and became something of an eccentric figure, playing pranks, particularly on the owner of the pub.
Due to past experiences, in later years Marriott became wary of success and fame as well as involvement with big record companies, and turned down lucrative concert and recording deals with names such as EMI. Because of this attitude, the band grew resentful, believing that he was holding them back, and Packet of Three was disbanded. For the next year Marriott took time off.
By now he was 39 years old. He had health problems, was overweight, and had a scruffy appearance. There was little left of the striking 1960s mod icon. Film-maker Paolo Sedazzari recalled,
“I remember going to see him in the 1980s, and he was brilliant. Great voice, great guitarist but what I couldn’t get over were the dungarees and the mullet haircut. That was really disappointing.”
According to his wife, Marriott still smoked cannabis and took cocaine, but nothing compared to what he had once consumed. In his later years Marriott liked reading; his favourite authors included Stephen King, Philip K. Dick and anything on Noël Coward, whom Marriott had always admired.
In May 1988, Marriott started rehearsing with a band from Leicestershire, the DTs, though by the time they starting touring they were called Steve Marriott and the DTs.
Despite being out of the public gaze, Marriott was still asked to participate in various projects. Andrew Lloyd Webber asked Marriott to record two songs for his musical Evita, though after becoming drunk at the meeting Marriott ungraciously declined.
Film composer Stephen Parsons asked Marriott to sing the title track “Shakin’ All Over” for the low budget horror film Gnaw: Food of the Gods II (1989) Marriott agreed, seeing it as easy money.
While recording the song, Trax Records asked Marriott to record a solo album. Thirty Seconds to Midnite was recorded at Alexandra Palace. Marriott used the money to buy a narrowboat.
On 14 July 1989, Marriott and Toni Poultney were married at Epping Register Office. Afterwards, they threw a party at their cottage.
During this period Jim Leverton got in touch and Marriott formed a new group called Steve Marriott’s Next Band, with Leverton and ex-members of both the DTs and the Official Receivers.When several members left due to financial disagreements, the band name Packet of Three resurfaced.
By 1990 Marriott was playing an average 200 gigs a year, when Frampton flew into Britain and asked Marriott to reform Humble Pie to produce a one-off album and a reunion tour.
The payment would be enough to allow Marriott to take things easier. He agreed, and they flew out to Frampton’s recording studio in Los Angeles on 27 January 1991.
They began writing songs, but the project was never completed, as Marriott had a change of heart and returned home. Two recorded songs from this final effort, “The Bigger They Come” and “I Won’t Let You Down”, with Marriott on vocals (and guitar), appeared on Frampton’s album Shine On: A Collection. A third song, “Out of the Blue”, featuring both Marriott and Frampton, was featured on the first solo recording Frampton made after Marriott’s death. A fourth song, “An Itch You Can’t Scratch”, has been found on many illegal compilations and even on one of two “authorised” British releases. The recording date, and whether Frampton played on it, have never been verified.
STEVE MARRIOTT INTERVIEW: LIVE FROM LONDON, 1985
On Friday 19 April 1991, Marriott and Poulton flew home from the USA, where Marriott had recorded songs for a future album with Frampton. During the flight, according to Poulton, Marriott was drinking heavily, was in a foul mood, and the two argued constantly. After arriving in the UK, a mutual friend met them and they all went to one of Marriott’s favourite restaurants, The Straw Hat in Sawbridgeworth for dinner, where he consumed more alcohol. After dinner, they returned to their friend’s house and decided to stay overnight, since it was late, but upstairs in bed, Marriott and Poulton continued to argue. Poulton finally fell asleep and later woke to discover that Marriott had taken a taxi home alone.
At about 6:30 am on 20 April, a passing motorist saw the roof of Marriott’s cottage ablaze and called the fire brigade. It was reported that four fire engines were needed to put out the fire. In newspaper interviews, Assistant Divisional Fire Officer Keith Dunatis, who found Marriott, said:
“It was a tough fight getting upstairs. We searched the bedroom areas and it was very hot, we knew immediately that no-one could have survived the fire. We began to feel around the walls and discovered him lying on the floor between the bed and the wall. I would say he had been in bed and tried to escape. As soon as I saw the body clearly I knew who it was. I used to be a fan, it’s difficult to put my feelings into words. The scene was horrific in that corner of the room. I saw him lying there and thought what a pity it all was. I deal with many fires but this one was like walking down memory lane. We managed to salvage all his guitars and musical equipment. I feel a bit upset, all the firemen do. It was like seeing part of our lives gone forever.”
– (Fire Officer)
It is believed that the most likely cause of the fire was that soon after arriving home, jet-lagged and tired, in the early hours, Marriott had lit a cigarette while in bed and almost immediately fallen into a deep sleep.
Since Marriott was found lying on the floor between the bed and wall, investigators concluded he may have tried unsuccessfully to escape after being awakened by the blaze. Disoriented and confused after inhaling large amounts of thick smoke, Marriott had turned left instead of right towards the bedroom door and safety. He had been unable to rectify his mistake before being overcome with smoke. At the inquest, a verdict of accidental death by smoke inhalation was recorded. Marriott’s blood was found to contain quantities of Valium (taken earlier for flight nerves), alcohol and cocaine.
“He (Marriott) was certainly the most talented person I ever worked with. He was like a brother to me and I was devastated when he died. He always lived on the edge and I was always waiting for a ‘phone call to say that he had died but I never dreamed it would be under those circumstances. He’s never got the credit he deserves. He should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame because he was the greatest white soul singer that England ever produced. I’m certain that if you caught the likes of Rod Stewart and Paul Rodgers in a private moment and asked them who was the main man, they would say, Steve Marriott.”
– Jerry Shirley
The Small Faces song “All or Nothing” was played as the requiem at Marriott’s funeral held on 30 April 1991, at the Harlow crematorium. Amongst the mourners, noted attendees included ex-Small Faces drummer Kenney Jones, as well as Peter Frampton, Joe Brown, PP Arnold, Terence Stamp, Jerry Shirley and Greg Ridley. Among those who sent wreaths were David Gilmour (of Pink Floyd) and Rod Stewart and his then-wife Rachel Hunter. Nothing was heard from ex-Small Faces members Ian McLagan or Ronnie Lane.
To mark the 10th anniversary of Marriott’s death a tribute concert was held at the London Astoria on 20 April 2001. All the songs performed at this concert were from the Small Faces or Humble Pie catalogue. Pre-1980 Humble Pie alumni Peter Frampton, Clem Clempson, Greg Ridley and Jerry Shirley gave a one-off performance.
Other guest appearances included two original members of the Small Faces, Kenney Jones and Ian McLagan, Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher and Bobby Tench from Marriott’s 1980’s Humble Pie line-up and John’s Children. Other musicians such as Alan White, Gem Archer, Midge Ure, Zak Starkey, Rabbit Bundrick, Steve Ellis and Tony Rivers appeared in band line-ups during the two and half-hour concert, released on DVD as the Stevie Marriott Astoria Memorial concert.
The proceeds of the concert were donated to The Small Faces Charitable Trust set up by Kenney Jones in memory of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane.
In September 2007 Marriott, along with tshe other members of the Small Faces and manager Don Arden, were honoured with a plaque unveiled in Carnaby Street, on the site of Don Arden’s offices, the spiritual home of the band in the 1960s.
As a teenager growing up in Glencairn, a bleak loyalist council estate in West Belfast ( I loved it as a child ) there was little to do apart from joy riding, rioting and fighting with the gangs from the top and bottom of the estate.
Sure – I was surrounded by vast open spaces and miles of forest and glens , but I was a teenager and I needed excitement.
I couldn’t drive , was bored of rioting and so like many of my peers I turned to drugs to escape the madness around me and block out the car crash that was my tragic young life.
I was 14 years old and my dad had died when I was nine , after a long brutal struggle with cancer and I was missing him terribly. I didn’t know if my mum was alive or dead and all around me was death and destruction as Belfast tore itself apart and the paramilitaries waged a brutal sectarian war and the slaughter of the innocent at times seemed endless.
And I really fancied Gina Nixon and wanted to kiss her on the lips, but she didn’t even know I existed.
It’s hardly surprising that I wanted to escape reality and so l lost myself in drugs and through a hazy fuelled utopia I was able to suspend reality for brief moments of escape and boy did I need them.
My first drug was glue – Time Bond to be exact, although I could settle for Evo Stick or if I was really desperate Bridge Port, which was a horrible , thick black solution that was used to fix punctures on bikes –
although I can’t comment on how effective it was at mending tyres as I never used it for this purpose.
The first time I sniffed glue I remembering I was standing against the wall of an allay way and as the fumes entered my body I felt them gentle circulate throughout my entire being and as I slowly slid down the wall I was filled with the most beautiful feeling of being detached from my surrounding and floating in a Never Never land of soothing lights and utter peace of mind.
I was hooked.
Being a teenager who may or may not be an orphan (I still didn’t know if my mum was alive or dead) I was faced with the very real problem of needing more glue and not having the money to pay for it. So I did exactly what all my peers would do in the same situation and I begged, borrowed and stole.
The Jam – That’s Entertainment
I didn’t concern myself with the wrongs and right of it , I just needed to get my hands on more glue and visit my Never Never land again and again and again and..
When I say beg, borrowed or steal what I really mean is that I would beg most of the time , borrow some of the time (when I could get away with it ) and stand watch outside Woolies whilst the rest of the gang went shop lifting and I acted as look-out!
Despite the environment I lived in and the abuse a fickle fate had thrown at me, deep down I still wanted to believe in Baby Jesus and hadn’t Rev. Lewis told me on countless occasions that God saw everything and would one day judge me.
So I tried to be a good boy and obey the commandments – but this wasn’t always easy when you were surrounded by sectarian slaughter, thieves and psychopathic killers in the making.
And that was all perfectly normal to me as a child.
Once I was stood outside a shop in Belfast City Centre, I was lost in a drug induced fog as I waited for the others to return from shoplifting. It was close to Christmas and the town was full of shoppers and day trippers. Suddenly a guy taps the door of the shop with his toe and I could see that he’s weighed down with a tower of Quality Street tins. Feeling the Xmas spirit I opened and held the door for him and I was just a little surprised to note that once out of the shop, he kicked the door closed and started legging it down the street, dropping tins of Quality Street as he went.
Strange thinks I and then all hell broke out.
The Indian guy who owned the shop and his twelve sons (well two, but seemed like more ) came charging out of the door and before I knew what is happening they piled on top of me and I was pinned to the ground until the cops arrived.
It took all my powers of persuasion and a kind old lady who had witness the event to clear my name and eventually I was free to go and I caught up with the rest of the gang, whom had witness the whole thing , but because they were weighed down with their shoplifting haul had wisely kept their distance.
Another time when I was stood outside a local builder’s yard waiting for someone, I was delighted and beside myself with joy as I watched box after box of Time Bond glue being unloaded from a delivery truck and stacked against the yard wall.
I sent for the rest of the gang and when darkness fell I supervised as my cousin Pickle, scaled the wall and began throwing over boxes of glue. We brought it all up to a Davey Johnston’s (a friend) house and he promised to look after it and only take a few tins for himself and his mates. I didn’t really care at that stage as I was off my head on glue and went off to my favourite spot in the local park and laying down on a bed of grass I watched for hours as the stars drifting endlessly across the heavens on their timeless dance through the universe.
A few days later, out of glue I sat off to Davy’s house to pick a few tins and I was surprised to see a long line of teenagers queuing outside his front door. When I finally made it to the front of the queue I could see Davy’s Ma, Big Barbara hanging out the window with a fag dangling from her mouth, a glue bag under her arm and enquiring of me
“How many tins of glue did I wish to purchase, love ? ”
Well you could have knocked me down with a feather and I demanded to see Davy right away. Turns out that Barbara had been hitting the glue herself and she’d enjoyed the experience so much she wanted to share the joy with the local population – at the right price off course.
I hid my disgust as I realised that half the stash had been sold or sniffed by Barbara, who was now singing and dancing in the street in her knickers and making rude suggestions to all and sundry.
Grabbing an armful of glue tins I headed off to the forest and the night sky and for a few hours lost myself in the mysteries of the universe and time and space.
Smoking Weed with Paul Weller
The Jam – When You’re Young
As I grew older and wiser (I know ) I gravitated towards more ahem.. Socially accepted drugs like weed, pills and acid and I must confess I had some very strange experiences on the way.
I remember once when I was visiting a friend and we were just chillin out with Paul Weller ( his dog) and his sister , Mad Maggie , who worked as a cleaner in the local butchers shop came home with a bag full of off-cuts the butcher had gifted her.
Looking in the bag I was disgusted to see that it was mostly pig’s trotters (some of them still had hair on them) and the smell was so bad I almost threw up. Mad Maggie was rushing out on a date and putting the trotters on the stove to boil she ordered us to keep an eye on them and turn them off when they were cooked.
We sagely nodded our understanding and proceeded to get stoned as Paul Weller watched us from the floor with a look of utter disgust on his face.
After smoking’s countless joints we both got the mad munchies and as the shops were now closed we started hunting for food throughout the kitchen and were desperately disappointed to see that there was nothing in the fridge apart from a block of butter, half bottle of sour milk and a ball of cheese that had a fuzzy , luminous green cloak covering it.
Suddenly we both remember the pig’s trotters and after a momentary pause we grab them off the stove, drained them and proceeded to eat the lot, hair, toe nails and whatever other parts of a pig’s trotter that dwelled in the bottom of the pot.
Despite his unsociable behaviour we slung Paul Weller a few scraps and he rudely snatched them off us and giving us a contemptuous look he ran into the kitchen as if we were going to take them back of him and proceeded to hid them behind the bin.
But we were way to smart for that dog and when he settled down for a nap we tip toed past him and stole the trotters back and eat the lot
The Jam “Down In The Tube Station”
After our feast we both fell into a slumber and I drifted off into a satisfying snooze and the world was all good. Next thing I can feel something wet, hot and sticky sliding up and down my face and opening one eye I came face to face with Paul Weller and he was shamelessly licking the juices of the pigs trotter off my face.
Shooing him out of the way I made my way to the kitchen and rinsed his slobber of my face and put the kettle on. Just then Mad Maggie comes down the stairs with her fella in tow and they are both laughing their heads off.
“What’s so fecking funny “ , I enquired
“You’re looking Ruff, so you are” says Mad Maggie’s fella
“Did you enjoy the dogs dinner, did you? “
Laughs Mad Maggie in my face and I remembered the pigs trotter and almost throw up all over them.
Apparently the trotters had been laying about the butchers for the past two – three weeks and were far beyond what was considered fit for human consumption and we had eaten the lot of them. Grabbing my coat I left in a hurry and as I past Paul Weller in the hall I swear I heard him snigger!
The Who – I Can’t Explain
The mod revival was a music genre and subculture that started in England in 1978 and later spread to other countries (to a lesser degree). The mod revival’s mainstream popularity was relatively short, although its influence has lasted for decades. The mod revival post-dated a Teddy Boy revival, and mod revivalists sometimes clashed with Teddy Boy revivalists, skinhead revivalists, casuals, punks and rival gang members.
The Jam – Thick as Thieves
The late 1970s mod revival was led by the band The Jam, who had adopted a stark mod look and mixed the energy of punk with the sound of 1960s mod bands. The mod revival was a conscious effort to harken back to an earlier generation in terms of style. In the early 1980s in the UK, a mod revival scene influenced by the original 1960s mod subculture developed.
A dedicated follower of fashion
Small Faces – Itchycoo Park
Around the early 1980s when I was 15/16 I started taking a more serious interest in my street cred and for the first time ever I started getting into music in a big way and this opened up a whole new world for me.
Up until that point I’d enjoyed some of the pop and disco tunes which dominated the late 70’s early 80s charts and if push came to shove I could sing along to all the songs in “Grease “if the feeling took.
Which I’m not ashamed to admit it sometimes did.
But then I discovered a band that seemed to speak to me personally and the lead singer seemed to understand the angst and pitfalls of my teenage odyssey and hence Paul Weller and The Jam became my teenage obsession.
The Jam – Going Underground
The Jam were starting to get noticed around this time and in my book were the coolest band in the world and Paul Weller’s lyrics spoke to my soul like no one before or since . I couldn’t get enough of The Jam and came to love timeless classic like Down in the Tube Station at Midnight , That’s Entertainment, Thick as Thieves and the tune that was their first number one hit “ Going Underground” released in March 1980 and going straight to the top of the charts.
I began to embraced the whole Mod scene and became a dedicated follower of fashion and a connoisseur of the Mod movement from the 60s to the “Modern World “of the early 1980s were I now dwelt.
The High Numbers – Zoot Suit
At first I followed the style of the modern Mods and dressed to impress I started hanging about the Ballysillian area of Belfast and was quickly accepted by all the Mods from Silver Stream and surrounding areas. Being Loyalist West Belfast many of these guys and their families were involved with the various loyalist paramilitaries groups and after the Friday night disco in the community centre we would often be approached and asked if we wanted to join the UDA and fight for our country.
I had no interest in fighting for my country at this stage in my life and was only interested in getting high and listening to Mod music and building up my ever growing record collection.
Also around this time I noticed that I had started getting interest from the female species and I was pleased to discover that they seemed to find me acceptable and without bragging I never had any problem finding female company when the mood took me. But once again my music and drugs came first and although I had many opportunities to “get off” with the various girls that hang about with us, I showed little interest and preferred the company of my mates and getting wasted.
It was around this time that I took my first acid trip and I had the most bizarre, scary, mind bending trip of my life. The acid in question was a particularly potent strain and I think my first mistake was taking three in one go.
There was a gang of us in the park and it was a dark, cold winter’s night and snow was falling all around and for a while I sat on the freezing ground and watched silently as the snowflakes drifted lazily from the sky and landed softly on the ground beneath me. Gradually the snow began to change colour and I watched fascinated as the flakes began to take on all the colours of the rainbow and red, blue, orange etc snowflakes engulfed me and explosions of colour, like tiny bombs were spontaneously appearing and disappearing before my eyes.
Well this started freaking me out and I asked my mates if they could also see what I was seeing and they all looked at me as if I was crazy and told me to “Enjoy the trip” .
Little did I know that this was only the beginning and I would be locked in a psychedelic world of wonder for the next ten hours.
As the night wore on and the acid took hold of me I began to get paranoid and was seeing things that couldn’t possibly be real, The moon had now turned into a giant purple and blue ball of fire and was playing pinball with a million different coloured stars and I watched in amazement as the stars bounced off each other and flew across the universe, to suddenly reappear right in front of my nose.
I was no longer enjoying this trip and in an effort to come down I decided to jog round the park and see if that brought me back to reality. As I jogged through the snow and slid all over the place I gradually started to feel more in control and coming to a shed at the back of some shops I sat down to catch my breath and then it happened.
Suddenly I heard the theme tune of Dr. Who and it seemed to fill every part of my being and soul and right in front of me I watched gob smacked as the Tardis materialised from thin air and the blue doors swung opened invitingly. Reality had been suspended and looking around I could see that there was no one or nothing in the universe but me and the Tardis and taking a few steps forward I entered and the door slammed closed behind me.
I stepped up to the console and fiddling with the time rotor I spun the dials and suddenly the engine started to rev up and the Tardis started to vibrate violently and the display started to spin backwards through the years , 1960 ,1920, 1901, 1876 , 1848 and stopped on 1841.
The Tardis had come to a stop and I nervously pushed the door open and stepped outside – straight into a scene from Victorian England. I was in a busy London street, the sun was shining and people dressed in Victorian clothes were going about their daily business. There were horses and carts everywhere and the smell was appalling and I stood in wonder and took in the scenes before.
The acid I had taken was not for the faint hearted and although my eyes and ears were telling me I was in Victorian England , somewhere at the back of my acid confused consciousness I knew I couldn’t really have travelled back through time – could I ?
Then I panicked – How the hell was I going to get back to Ballysillian and the 1980s.
I kid you not, in my altered state I really did believed that I had travelled back through time and I was now stuck in Victorian England. I didn’t consider the sheer ridiculousness of the situation I found myself in , my only concern was getting back to the future and I started to freak out and run up and down the streets , dodging horses I begged people to help me , but they didn’t seem to know I was there and this just freak me out more.
Eventually I came across the Tardis again and this time it opened from the top and I hurriedly climbed in and closed the door above me and peace descended as I closed my eyes and tried to block out the nightmare I found myself in.
I must have fallen asleep and was awoken suddenly as the Tardis started to vibrate again and opening my eyes I braced myself for another journey through time and space.
This acid was a bitch and I was cursing myself for taking so much.
Suddenly the top door of the Tardis open and light flooded in and to my amazement a man was staring down at me and the look on his face said it all. I was also relieved to see that he was dressed in clothes that were definitely 1980s and not 1880s. I clambered out and taking in the scene I realized that my Tardis had been an industrial wheelie bin and the guy had come to drop off some rubbish. I had spent the night covered in shit and waste and smelt like a bad weekend.
The guy who had released me looked as though he had seen a ghost and thanking him I made off down the hill and home for a long soothing bath and a good long talk with myself about the dangers of acid!
We are the Mods
When I wasn’t trying to kill myself with drugs or getting lost in a parallel universe I took being a Mod very seriously and fully embraced the sub cultural that was sweeping the UK and the streets of Belfast. At this stage I didn’t really know or mix with any Catholics, as simple I never had the opportunity to meet them as Catholics would never venture into the badlands of Loyalist West Belfast .
Belfast Mods documentary
I’m the guy with the hat at 2.08
But as time moved on and I got more and more into the Mod scene my world was ever expanding and I started going to Mod clubs in Belfast City Centre and further afield and mixing with Mods from all walks of life , regardless off religious or politically backgrounds.
Before long I was a well known face in the Belfast Mod scene and was on the rocky road to more hell raising adventures and lost weekends and if you want to know about these come back soon and I will take you by the hand and lead you into a world of unimagable stupidity – My World. ( Secret Affairs )
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Now I have two kids and I would be horrified if they got up to half the things I did back in me youth and I would be really disappointed to learn they were using drugs.. I know – hypocrite and all that , but back in the ghettos of loyalist West Belfast in the early 80s life was hard and very different and I was living the rock and roll lifestyle.