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The Story of Steve Marriott’s Last Days With the Small Faces

Central Press, Hulton Archive, Getty Images

By the beginning of 1969, Steve Marriott was really growing tired of what he saw as the limitations of the Small Faces. Despite expanding their sound on the classic Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake album the previous year, Marriott’s heart just wasn’t in it as the new year was getting underway. “I’ve changed in myself and the group has changed as things have happened to us,” Marriott told an interviewer in September of 1968. His participation would come to an end by March 1969.

Marriott and bassist Ronnie Lane had produced a single called “Sunshine Cottage” for the Herd, a pop group that featured a young Peter Frampton. Marriott was suitably impressed by the young guitarist, and pondered bringing him into the band. “I thought it was a good idea to get Peter Frampton in and have another guitarist, get a fresh start,” Marriott said. Both Lane and keyboardist Ian McLagan, however, disagreed with the idea.

Producer Glyn Johns remembers the band falling apart in the book The Young Mod’s Forgotten Story. “I got together with the Small Faces and Peter Frampton and we did these sessions in Paris, and something happened,” he said. “I don’t know what the argument was about … the s— hit the fan. We went home and the next thing I knew, there were two bands.”

Amidst the chaos, the band was booked to do a show in Paris at the Alexandra Palace on New Years Eve; Marriott called the gig “horrendously bad.” Drummer Kenney Jones recalled, “Halfway through the set, [Marriott] just threw his guitar down and walked off, leaving us like three lemons.”

But that was not the last stand for the band. They were already contracted to do a quick run of shows in Germany in January 1968, which they did without incident — but that was the end. “The group is definitely breaking up,” Marriott told the press in February 1969, with the official announcement made the following month. Ultimately, all the turmoil would spawn two great bandsHumble Pie and the Faces.

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