Besides being the Rolling Stones co-founder and guitarist, Keith Richards is also known for being a very sincere person that always tells people what he really thinks about any subject. Like The Beatles, the Stones were crucial to help Rock and Roll to evolve in the 60s and they continued to push their music foward, being active for more than six decades, influencing countless generations of musicians all over the world.
The 60s produced incredible Rock and Roll artists that remained very prolific in the following decades and it was one of those musicians that Richards said that was a great singer and guitarist.
The singer and guitar player that Keith Richards said was great
The Rolling Stones was formed in 1962 in London, England and released their debut album “The Rolling Stones/England’s Newest Hit Makers” in 1964. One year later, in 1965, also in London a group called The Small Faces appeared releasing their self-titled album which had the hit “Sha-La-La-La-Lee”. Their classic line-up had the drummer Kenney Jones, keyboardist and guitarist Ian McLagan, bassist Ronnie Lane and the guitarist/singer Steve Marriott, who Richards once mentioned as a great artist.
Talking with The Quietus back in 2015, The Rolling Stones member lamented that Marriott sadly tragically died too soon. “Y’know, there have been some great English blues bands in the 60s and 70s and some great singers. I loved Stevie Marriott; he was one I hoped would stick around for a while. What a great voice and guitar player,,” he said.
In 2008, the Stones were part of a project with Youtube called “Living Legends”, where they answered fan questions. At the time Richards was asked about which were the best bands of all time and he mentioned Marriott as one of the greatest. (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) “I always liked Steve Marriott. Very much from the English point of view. You know, The Small Faces and then he had Humble Pie. I’m not gonna say like Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath, I would only be lying, not my favorites. They are all good, I know them, they are all good players and everything, but as a band no.”
Marriott almost joined The Rolling Stones
Curiously, the book “Steve Marriott: All Too Beautiful” released in 2010, revealed that he auditioned for The Rolling Stones once. It happened when the band was looking for someone to replace Mick Taylor who had quit. Marriott was Richards’ favorite one to join the group. But he was reportedly blocked by Mick Jagger who understood that he wouldn’t be contented to only stay in the back playing the guitar while Jagger was in the front singing the songs.
“Steve told me, ‘I was good and stood at the back for a while. But then Keith (Richards) would hit this lick and I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut.’ Keith wanted him in but there was no way that once Steve opened his mouth Mick would have him in the band.”
“He knew Steve would never stay in the background. They were the one band in the world that Steve would have loved to have been in. He just wanted to work with Keith,” the book said.
Marriott and Keith knew each other and were good friends
The Small Faces were active from 1965 to 1969 and from 1975 to 1978. Marriott was the guitarist and singer of the band during all that time. But curiously, when he decided to leave the band in the late 60s, the other three members continued. They changed the name of the group to The Faces and recruited the singer Rod Stewart and guitarist Ronnie Wood. He who would later replace Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones in 1975.
From 1969 until 1975 when he returned to The Smal Faces, Marriott was part of Humble Pie. He helped to form the band alongside the legendary guitarist and singer Peter Frampton. The group’s sound was very different from what Marriott did previously on his career. It was much more rooted in Blues than the Small Faces were.
The two artists not only admired each other, they were also good friends and maintained their friendship over the years. In 1983, as reported by Best Classic Bands, in an interview made 8 years before his tragic death, Steve Marriott talked about his friendship with Richards.
“The only people I keep in touch with are Keith Richards and people like that. ’Cause they’re the only people I want to talk to. He loves me. He’s always been on my side. He got me out of the hole. So he’ll be around whatever happens (His upcoming album at the time). Whether he plays guitar, whether he pushes knobs. Who cares?”
“I’ll write on the back of the album in big black letters, ‘Thank you, Keith, for bailing me out!’ My manager Moe says to me, ‘Ring Keith, ring Keith!’ I said, ‘Fuck it. For once in my life I’d like to ring Keith and just go, ‘How are you?’ Instead of, ‘Keith help me do this. Keith help me do that,’” Steve Marriott said.
The musician tragically died at the age of 44 in 1991. It happened when a fire, which was reportedly caused by a cigarette, swept through his 16th century house in Arkesden, Essex, England.