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An interview with Jenny Marriott
Interview By John Hellier (28th February 1999).

Steve Marriott's first wife Jenny reminisces about their years together


How and when did you meet Steve?
 

I first met Steve in 1966 at Tony Brainsbys office, Tony was a publicity guy.   At that time I was at London University studying philosophy and was dating a young an up and coming singer on the London circuit called Rod Stewart.    Anyway I met Steve and liked him straight away.   He was very funny and we got on very well but that’s all it was for quite a long time.    About six months later I split up with Rod and I had a chased romance with Steve for a few weeks before I ended up back with Rod   Steve was very upset about that and we didn’t speak for a couple of years.     He told me that he wrote “All or Nothing” as a result of the split.   Eventually Rod and I split for good after a four-year stormy relationship and Steve must have heard about it because he came to see me at my place of work, Quorum in the Kings Road.   He started bombarding me with presents, flowers ……. the whole romantic bit.   The last thing I really wanted at that time was another musician.    I just wanted to get on with my own life and my own career but Steve just wouldn’t let up.   A little while later I was very ill and Steve literally cancelled everything to look after me for a couple of weeks in the most delightful way.   I had never been looked after like that before and I guess it was then that I fell in love with him.   At that time her was a lovely, lovely man. 

Were there bad feelings over the years between Steve and Rod?

Well there certainly was way back then.   Steve always said, “you had my band but I had your woman!”   When I first went out with Rod he was only a semi professional singer, during the daytime he was working in his fathers framing shop in Archway, but Steve always held him in high esteem as a vocalist.   I remember Steve and myself went to visit Rod at one time and he was there with P.P. Arnold.   PP was lovely but she hated me because she had this thing about Steve and myself.

Were you a Small Faces Fan?

Oh yeah!   I’d seen them fairly often right from the beginning.   When I first met Steve he was living with Mac and Ronny at Westmoreland Terrace in Pimlico, Kenney was still living with his mum and dad in the east end.   Don Arden was paying then £20 a week each and they were very happy with that.    In those days they would go down to places like Carnaby Street and they’d be mobbed, literally mobbed by hysterical girl fans.   It was like Beatlemania it really was, absolutely no holds barred.   They were well protected though they would have some of Don Arden’s henchmen with them at all times.

What were the final days of the Small Faces like?

By the time I got it together with Steve, which was 1968, the Small Faces were grinding to a halt.    I moved in with Steve and his dog at a small terraced house in Ewatt Green in Chiswick, near the river.   He was having a lot of hassle with his neighbours, the Hasselewaithes, and ended up writing “Lazy Sunday” about his time there.    Mind you I didn’t blame the neighbours it must have been hard living next door to him.    They complained continuously about the noise and rightly so.    Steve had installed Wharfedale speakers from Olympic Studios in a living room, which measured approximately 14 feet by 12 feet!

After that we lived in a house in Morlow, Buckinghamshire with Ronnie and Sue and Mac and Sandy.   It was a very beautiful house in the countryside that Jerome K. Jerome, he the guy who wrote “Three men in a boat”, once lived in.    We had a wonderful time there and it was in that garden that Steve wrote “The Universal” with all the dogs barking in the background.   After that we moved to Beehive Cottage at Moreton in Essex with Ronnie and Sue who had the stable converted as extra living accommodation.   In order to buy the house we had to get an advance from Immediate Records and I remember borrowing a further £500 from Arthur Howes, the Promoter.

I remember having a whale of a time when they were doing Ogden’s.    One particular time we rented out boats on the Thames.   Steve, Ronnie, Sue, myself and our dogs were in one and Mac and Kenney in another.    Mac crashed his boat into somebody else’s boat and down it went.   Mac was the rogue of the river!    A lot of the Ogdens album was written on those boats.    After the success of Ogdens it all seemed to fizzle out quickly.   It was at a New Years Eve concert at Alexander Palace when Steve finally walked out on the band.    They hadn’t rehearsed and the gig was a disaster, Steve just walked off stage.     After the split Ronnie and Sue moved out of Beehive Cottage and Ronnie and Steve didn’t speak for years afterwards.    Ronnie was extremely bitter but if only they would have talked perhaps something could have been salvaged.

At the end of the Small Faces we were broke, had no money at all.    It’s ridiculous really when you think back to how big they were and yet they ended up stone broke.   Mind you Steve wasn’t bothered he just wanted to play and write music, the, money or lack of it was totally irrelevant to him.    As long as he had enough to pay the rent he was happy.    I really don’t know where the money went, I don’t think Andrew ripped them off, he was just as hopeless with money as Steve was.

Tell me about the Humble Pie years?

Well, 1969 was probably the happiest period in Steve’s life.   We went through a fallow time in which we just played around in the garden, took the dogs for long walks and just chilled out.   The best times for us was just doing the sort of things that normal people do, just the two of us with all the animals.   Shortly afterwards it was Humble Pie with Peter and that was fine until the American tours started.   Steve used to phone me from the States and say, “Come and rescue me”, there were girls sleeping outside their doors and he hated it.   I was horrified I was very happy living my peaceful life in the countryside.   One time I flew out to New York to be with them but I didn’t enjoy it at all but I assume that me being there had helped a little bit in keeping him together.    After that I only ever went on tour a couple of times to places like Japan and Hawaii.    After the Immediate label went broke Steve once again found himself with no money and this is when Dee Anthony arrived on the scene.   The band was focusing totally on Steve and that’s when Peter began to get dissatisfied and eventually quit the band.    Over the next three years they did 19 US tours and to cut a very long and painful story short Steve was totally whacked at the end of it.   For a lot of the time he was quite unapproachable and not the person that I had met and fallen in love with a few years earlier.   In order to cope with the pressure he had to become this other person and that’s when our relationship started to go wrong.   Things had soured so much that he used to 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.   That was said in a moment of truth but the next day had changed his mind and he’d be up and off.

With regards to the money, well the guys in the band wrongly assumed that it was being safely invested for them in things like New York taxicabs and other things.   After 19 tours they presumed that at sometime they would be able to sit back and enjoy the fruit of their labours.   Having said that they were very extravagant on the road, they would have suites in hotel rooms, large limos and jets.   They’d spend, spend, spend and nobody advised them otherwise.   As with the Small Faces they were spending more than they were earning.   The assets that they had assumed they had accumulated had disappeared into thin air.   The story of Steve’s Life!    I suppose it was their own fault really for not taking responsibility for their own finances.    They certainly didn’t act in an adult way.    To be fair to the management I think they did try and stop some of the excesses on the road but the band didn’t want to know.    It was their justification for being on the road in the end, just to live this crazy life style.

There was this beautiful property in Nassau that the band though they owned but it turned out that it was never in their name to start with.   When Steve and I were going through one of our rough patches we went over there to try and salvage our relationship.    Ours, well we thought it was ours, was the first one of 36 houses on this beautiful beach with palm trees.   The holiday turned into a total disaster after just one day.   Steve was doing a lot of coke and he’d turned into a real monster!   I stuck it out for two weeks but was glad to get home.

What were the reasons for the marriage split and eventual divorce?

It was sink or swim for me really.   He was devastated when I left but I had to get out.   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 3 or 4 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.   Steve had spent a lot of money and a friend of his from Olympic in London set it up but Steve was never totally happy with it.  It was supposed to be sound proofed but you can hear the bass for miles around.   A guy on a tractor one said to me “I heard your new recording up the road, not bad!”   There was one guy in particular in the band who was largely responsible for introducing Steve to a lot of these substances.    No names though!    The drugs and the drink I would tolerate no more.   It broke my heart to leave Steve, Beehive Cottage and the animals but it had to be done.   I was ultimately the stronger.

Steve used to call me a lot afterwards even when I was married to James, my second husband, about 3 years later.   James would answer the phone and Steve would say, “Is my ol’ lady there?”   It all stopped when I told him I had, had a baby.   Never heard from him again.

What are your views on Steve as a musician?

He could pick literally any instrument and immediately empathise with it.   I remember him playing a sitar out in the garden, he’d never picked one up in his life before yet he was playing it beautifully.

What are your favourite songs of his?

My favourite Steve’s songs were Afterglow, A Song for Jenny and Say No More.   Oh! and there was one he did later on called 88 pounds that I really loved.

How did you hear of his death and how did you take this news?

Bobbi Korner, Alexis widow, had heard about it on the radio and she called me.   Also got a phone cal from June Bolan.    Because I hadn’t seen him for such a long time it took a long while for it to register.   But, of course, I was deeply saddened by the news, I had always assumed that we would meet up again sometime and work things through/

Thanks Jenny for your time.

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