Modesty Keeping A Low Profile

The group known as Humble Pie was worried about being branded as a ‘super group’ (an exceptionally successful rock group, in particular one formed by musicians already famous from playing in other groups).  They decided to take an unassuming name in order to brace them from becoming a disappointment for any high expectations that people might have of them, as many groups in that category did not always end up meeting with the success that fans thought should happen.  They chose this name Humble Pie so their band could express modesty and so they could try to keep a low profile. A showcase for former Small Faces’ frontman Steve Marriott and one-time Herd guitar virtuoso Peter Frampton, the hard rock outfit Humble Pie formed in Essex, England in 1969.  Also featuring ex-Spooky Tooth bassist Greg Ridley along with seventeen-year-old drummer Jerry Shirley.

In mid-1965, four like-minded rockers came together to form one of the greatest bands of the era.  They called themselves the Small Faces, because all the members were small in physical stature, being shorter in height than the average person and a ‘Face’ represented somebody who was special, and cool.  Steve Marriott played guitar, harmonica, keyboards and he had one of the most incredible and powerful voices ever in rock n’ roll, and the rest of the band included drummer Kenny Jones and Ronnie Lane who played bass, sang vocals, and played rhythm guitar, and keyboardist Ian McLagan.  By the beginning of 1969, Steve Marriott was really growing tired of what he saw as the limitations of the Small Faces.  Marriott did not vacillate about leaving the group, as one night he dropped his guitar on stage, because his heart just wasn’t in it and his participation in the band came 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.  Both Lane and keyboardist Ian McLagan, however, disagreed with the idea.  When Steve Marriott left the Small Faces to form Humble Pie he was replaced by Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood and the group was now known as Faces.  Small Faces had several hits and they were even mentioned in the Byrds song ‘Eight Miles High’ with the line “Small faces unbound”.  While Steve Marriott was in Small Faces, he was able to emulate black vocalists, producing an emotional, soulful, highly mature sound that seemed implausible from such a pocket-sized body and his onstage appearance was dazzling, revealing and filled with physical confidence.

Peter Frampton started playing guitar in the Heard at the age of 15.  Frampton’s primary motivation for joining Humble Pie was to escape the teen idol status he’d been pegged with by his former band, the Herd, and indeed, his songs provided a welcome, milder foil for Steve Marriott’s wild-eyed, irrepressible energy.  The fledgling group Humble Pie spent the first several months of its existence locked away in Marriott’s Essex cottage, desiring to be left alone like a lamppost, while maintaining a relentless practice schedule.  They were signed to the Immediate label, and Humble Pie soon issued their debut single ‘Natural Born Bugie’ (often misspelled as Boogie), which hit the British Top Ten and paved the way for the group’s debut album, ‘As Safe as Yesterday Is’.

Humble Pie toured the U.S. and returned home to discover that their record company Immediate had declared bankruptcy. The band recruited a new manager, Dee Anthony, who helped land them a new deal with A&M.  As Marriott’s raw blues shouting began to dominate subsequent LPs like 1970’s eponymous effort and 1971’s Rock On, Frampton’s role in the band that he co-founded gradually diminished.  After the group’s performance ‘Rockin’ the Fillmore’, Frampton left Humble Pie to embark on a solo career.

Released in 1971, Rock On was the fourth studio album by the English rock group Humble Pie, and saw them establishing the heavy blues/rock sound they became famous for.  It reached #118 on the Billboard 200.  This was the final studio album to feature guitarist and vocalist Peter Frampton.  Peter Frampton wrote the song ‘Shine On’ which was the chosen as the opening track on Rock On and this signaled Frampton’s readiness to step out from under Marriott’s shadow and embark on his own lucrative solo career.  The Soul Sisters which included, P P Arnold, Doris Troy and Claudia Lennear were the backing vocals on this song.  This song did not make the charts, but Frampton would later perform ‘Shine On’ in his concerts.

‘Shine On’ is a fun song that the audience usually sings along with the band during concerts.  I think that Frampton wrote the song ‘Shine On’ about a muse who he considered to be a source of inspiration for creativity.  He is not able to see her in the dark, but she is beside him using her helping hand to guide him.  He asks her to look about and tell him what she sees. He thinks that she will be able to filter out all noise and dirt and plastic people to reach a bluer shade of jade, which is better than black or white is.  He asks his muse to take him on a ride, be there by his side and let it shine on.

Marriott died in a house fire in 1991 and he was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 as a member of Small Faces.  Preliminary reports said the fire was caused by smoking in bed, as it was thought that Marriott was probably too lazy to put out his cigarette before he fell asleep.  The iconic guitarist with a distinctive sound, Peter Frampton is still alive and kicking, and in 2011 he won a Grammy Award, but he is not a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame yet. Frampton is only 68 years old and since Rolling Stone magazine rated his 1976 album ‘Frampton Comes Alive’ as number 46 out of the greatest live albums of all time and his abundant talent, I anticipate that one day he will make it to the shrine in Cleveland.

Find it hard to see you in the dark
I looked around
You were beside me

Don’t you realize it’s hard to dream
Without your helping hand to guide me

This could be the one, girl
If you will be my sun

Shine on
Me, shine on me
Let it shine on
Shine on
All I have to do is let it shine on

Please look about and tell me what you see
All noise and dirt and plastic people
Cause love is clean
And ours has been a bluer shade of jade
Than black or white is

Take me on a ride, girl
Right there by my side, Oh

Shine on
Shine on me, shine on you
Let it shine on
Shine on
All I have to do is let it shine on

Shine on
Shine on me, shine on you
Let it shine on
Shine on
All I have to do is let it shine on

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Anticipate, for FOWC with Fandango – Lamppost, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Abundant, for Ragtag Community – Brace, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Lazy and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Vacillate.

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