‘Steve Marriott Was Unbelievable’ – More On One Of Classic Rock’s Star Singers
If you’ve got a copy of the latest edition Classic Rock – and if you haven’t, shame on you – you’ve likely noticed the legendary Steve Marriott made it to the heady heights of No.4 in our Greatest Rock Singers Of All Time poll.
Classic Rock was immensely gratified to receive an email from former Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley t’other day.
Jerry was surprised – but immensely pleased – to see his old band-mate occupy such a prominent position in our list.
So, just for you, Jerry, here’s the full blurb about Steve that we didn’t quite have room to publish:
Small in stature, Steve Marriott possessed bigger and more powerful pipes than any singer in rock and roll.
A pivotal influence on fellow Classic Rock best rock singer nominees, Robert Plant, Paul Stanley and Rod Stewart, Marriott’s Herculean vocal work in both The Small Faces, Humble Pie and as a solo artist, has rendered him a true vocal giant.
Marriott took his cue from black music – Motown, Stax/Volt and the blues.
“My main influences were Booker T and The MG’s, and then people like Otis Redding,” Marriott told BBC Radio in 1987. “I mean, if it wasn’t black, then I didn’t listen to it!”
Yet as a vocal stylist, Marriott transcended mimicry and inhabited the heart and soul of the material he sang.
“He had a great voice,’ raves Kiss’s Paul Stanley. “Steve Marriott was unbelievable. He was one of my heroes. I saw Marriott perform live with Humble Pie and it was like being at a church revival. And that to me is the coolest thing you can do, turn it into an evangelical event.”
“One of my favourite vocalists was Steve Marriott,” attests former Journey frontman Steve Perry. “I remember going to the Sacramento Auditorium to watch Humble Pie perform and Marriott would just throw his voice out into the audience in just the most R&B and rock way. I really, really loved his voice. What an amazing singer. It was a tragedy that we lost him, but he was something else.”
A few examples of Marriott’s extraordinary stylistic range: pure pop (All Or Nothing), psychedelia (Itchycoo Park), jaunty vaudeville (Lazy Sunday), incendiary power pop (Afterglow), proto-metal (Wham Bam Thank You Mam), sultry soul (Every Little Bit Hurts), pastoral folk (The Universal) and arena rock (I Don’t Need No Doctor).
Today Marriott’s trailblazing vocal blueprint is echoed in the work of acts like Paul Weller, The Raspberries, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Black Crowes.
Steve Marriott vocal highlight:
Tin Soldier – One of the most exciting rock singles ever recorded, Marriott’s seminal work on The Small Faces’ Tin Soldie’ is a commanding vocal tour-de-force, supergluing the subtle dynamics of stripped-down verses against powerhouse gospel fired choruses and an electrifying bridge, all leading to a climactic big finish that leaves both and Marriott and listener breathless.