Pie, without doubt, was one of the best
live acts on the scene in the early seventies.
They built up one of the largest ever
traveling group of supporters following
them from gig to gig on their 22 tours
of the U.S.A. Yes, that's right. 22 nationwide
tours of the United States of America
during their six year career – not counting
the European tours. It was live when they
were at their best.
On 'Performance' you can hear a band
at the absolute pinnacle of their powers.
It was recorded at Bill Graham's Fillmore
East on their last appearance there in
June of 1971, just two years after they
had formed, and only a month before Peter
Frampton left the band. He was a physical
and mental wreck after trying to keep
up with the rest of the band in their
rock 'n' roll lifestyle off stage. However,
this had no effect on his playing at this
concert, which is truly remarkable considering
the young Frampton was only 21 at the
Humble Pie was formed in 1969 mainly
due to four young musicians feeling frustrated
in their present bands. Steve Marriott
had had enough of ‘The Small Faces’ with
their overbearing management and inability
to break out from being considered a pop
Peter Frampton (voted ‘The Face of 68’
by Teen Magazine) was having similar problems
with his band ‘The Herd’ along with the
musical aspirations of his band mates,
although they included the admirable Andy
Bown (now with Status Quo).
Greg Ridley was in ‘Spooky Tooth’, which
was considered one of the most groundbreaking
avant-garde bands of the early seventies.
This was all very well as Greg certainly
had the musical chops for his role. However,
trouble was at heart as Greg just wanted
to get out front and let it all hang out,
letting his bass guitar thunder.
Jerry Shirley was the youngest of the
band and had no real experience before
the band, but was discovered by Peter
Frampton and described as an up and coming
John Bonham. Praise indeed, and very well
After Peter Frampton had got up on stage
with the 'Small Faces’ in 1968, Marriott
had pleaded with his band mates to allow
the young chap to join, but to no avail.
So in 1969 he walked out to join forces
with Frampton, finding the excellent rhythm
section along the way. Don't forget that
it took the other three from the ‘Small
Faces’ two people to replace Steve Marriott
and turn themselves into ‘The Faces’.
The two new members were a certain Mr.
Ronnie Wood and Mr. Rodney Stewart. And
whoever heard of ‘The Herd’ again after
their three Top 10 hits with Peter Frampton?
At first ‘The Pie’ got off on the wrong
foot falling into old traps - releasing
two albums of soft/pop/rock and having
a hit single in ‘Natural Born Bugie’.
Their Stage set consisted of two halves.
The first was an acoustic set with the
band sitting at the front of the stage
- usually shoeless - singing twee little
acoustic songs. (Unplugged years before
its time). The second set was a more gutsy
rhythm and blues set. However, they were
dumped by record company IMSP because
of non-existent record sales and a dwindling
live audience. Manager Dee Anthony called
a band meeting, where Steve Marriott was
made official band leader and all acoustic
and soft rock aspirations were put on
hold. Their rock and rolling feelings
were nailed to the mast.
A&M Records immediately snapped them
up. They released two rock 'n' roll style
Pie albums, the self-titled 'Humble Pie'
in July 1970 which was followed by the
aptly titled 'Rock On' in 1971. The band
started gigging continuously, playing
support to anybody who would dare having
them like ‘Grand Funk Railroad’. They
famously supported the band at both the
Shea Stadium in New York and Hyde Park
in London. All the while they were able
to headline bigger and bigger gigs of
their own. As Greg Ridley described them
at the time: “we are like a little army
primed for battle”.
The sales of their first two albums had
been good, but not exactly earth shattering.
So band management and record company
decided to go for broke and release what
had become the early seventies stock in
trade for all major acts ‘The Double Live
Album’. (This premise also worked remarkably
well for Peter Frampton later in his solo
career, when after years of obscurity
he rocketed to superstardom on the back
of his double live album ‘Frampton Comes
Alive’. It is still the biggest selling
live double album ever.)
While Eddie Kramer set up his recording
equipment at the Fillmore West he caught
‘The Pie’ on what is popularly known as
’on night’. ‘The Pies' set for the Fillmore
was made up of seven numbers. However,
only one of which could actually be called
a ‘Pie’ original, such was the band penchant
for re-adapting the work of those they
took influence of. After a brief announcement
the band lead straight into their perennial
opener Ida Cox's 'Four Day Creep'. Both
the guitars of Frampton and Marriott belt
out the riff before Ridley and Shirley
come rattling in proving the rhythm section
has become as tight and heavy as a Geoffrey
Boycott forward defensive shot. Then Steve
Marriott grabs the microphone imploring
the audience with his first three lines…
want you to love me,
Till the hair stands on my head,
Making me dizzy making me fell alright.’
This sets the standard for a hard rocking
night. Before the Willie Dixon number
‘ I'm Ready’ (if you are going to cover
somebody at least cover the best) you
get some marvelous interaction between
the voice of Steve Marriott, the guitar
of Peter Frampton, and the audience. Band
and audience bond before the rest of the
band come in on the back beat and bring
the house down. From here on out it's
full on rock 'n' roll with ‘The Pie’ proving
why they are without doubt one of the
most fulfilling bands of their era.
'Stone Cold Fever' is performed with
such fervor and relish that it proves
the point that ‘The Pie’ was a live band.
They leave the version from the studio
album ‘Rock On‘ for cold.
The albums two centerpieces are 'I Walk
on Gilded Splinters', originally by Dr.
John, but ‘The Pie‘ stretch it out to
a full 23 minutes and 30 seconds. It starts
with a ‘Pie’ original beginning as ‘The
Pie’, take the main riff and build upon
it instrument by instrument, tone by tone,
volume crank by volume crank, to a brutal
climax of head banging delight. The whole
thing is brought back to earth with the
main theme slowly worked back into something
Dr. John would recognize, before the whole
band takes you on an adventure into the
world of rhythm and blues. This proves
that not only could ‘The Pie’ rock, but
without doubt they were musicians of a
caliber of any of their contemporaries.
Closing the set at the Fillmore is ‘The
Pie’s‘ version of Muddy Water’s ‘Rolling
Stone’. Again a fine hard rock vehicle
for the band, wiping the floor with their
previously released studio version. At
the beginning of this 16-minute opus Steve
Marriott sings ’I'm going to sing you
a song in two parts‘ and, after the intro,
goes into a highly amusing rap about life
on the rock 'n' roll road of America.
This is purely Steve Marriott, very seventies,
very funny, and listening to it in this
day and age wonderfully politically incorrect.
‘The Pie‘ brings the set to a rocking
climax as they go into the second part
of the song on eleven and bring the house
down. The conclusion of 'Rolling Stone'
is amongst the most exciting 5 minutes
of rock 'n' roll ever recorded on tape.
It is simply a matter of going for the
throat. Musicians cannot learn to be this
exciting, it's either in their blood or
it's not. All four members of ‘The Pie‘
had about nine pints of excitement running
through their veins.
The final two numbers we are given here
are the encores. (Remembering ‘The Pie
‘ had to follow themselves here.) First
we get 'Hallelujah (I love Her So)’, where
Peter Frampton turns in a blistering solo
and Steve Marriott enjoys himself immensely
imitating Ray Charles.
Then the number which ‘The Pie’ turned
into their own and would never be allowed
to leave the stage without playing, Ashford/Simpson/Armstead's
'I Don't Need No Doctor'. This song’s
title alone tells you everything about
the band. The way the audience roars as
the whole band pile into the song confirms
its own story, 10 minutes of rock 'n'
roll heaven with the band bringing the
levels of excitement to those of the final
5 minutes of 'Rolling Stone'.
By the time this album was released in
November 1971 Peter Frampton had left
the band and been replaced by Clem Clempson.
The band went on to record their next
studio album ‘Smokin’, which went top
twenty on both sides of the Atlantic.
The band had many other high points before
they disbanded in typical disarray in
In 1991 Peter Frampton and Steve Marriott
met up again with an idea of putting ‘The
Pie’ back together again. However, this
was tragically stopped when Steve Marriott
was tragically killed in a fire at his
house at the age of 41. Steve Marriott
left behind a marvelous musical legacy
not only with ‘Humble Pie’, but also with
his solo work and with ‘The Small Faces.’
He was always 'The Artful Dodger' of British
rock. I shall finish with his words from
the stage before breaking into 'I Don't
Need No Doctor' from the Fillmore stage.
‘We go home on Monday, but I gotta tell
you, this time we have really had a gas,
it's really been a gas.'
Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew