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
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
for your time.