Greg Ridley

Bassist with Spooky Tooth and Humble Pie

Greg Ridley, bassist, singer and songwriter: born Carlisle 23 October 1947; married; died Jávea, Spain 19 November 2003.

The bassist Greg Ridley was a founding member of the rock group Humble Pie which barnstormed its way across America in the early Seventies and was one of several bands (Free, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band can also claim some input) which combined to create the fictitious group Stillwater in Cameron Crowe's film Almost Famous (2000).

Ridley played with the British progressive blues band Spooky Tooth before joining Humble Pie in 1969. He was drafted in alongside the drummer Jerry Shirley by Humble Pie's vocalist and guitarist Steve Marriott, the former Small Faces frontman, and the guitarist Peter Frampton, who had left the Herd.

Despite its name, the new quartet instantly attracted supergroup headlines in the music press and scored a No 4 hit with "Natural Born Bugie", their début single in the UK. Following Frampton's departure in September 1971, Humble Pie recruited the ex-Colosseum guitarist Dave "Clem" Clempson and blazed a trail across the United States, playing over 200 gigs a year and amassing huge album sales until their split in the mid-Seventies.

Born in Carlisle in 1947, Greg Ridley joined his first group in the early Sixties. He was Dino in a short-lived outfit called Dino and the Danubes before teaming up with his old schoolfriend Mike Harrison (on vocals and piano) in the Ramrods. By 1965, the pair had joined the VIP's, led by the guitarist Luther Grosvenor, and recorded three singles ("Wintertime" for CBS and "I Wanna Be Free" and "Straight Down to the Bottom" on the Island label). "In the early days, I thought if we made the bright lights of London from Carlisle, we'd made it," Ridley would joke. The VIP's became Art for a cover of the Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" retitled "What's That Sound" and the 1967 album Supernatural Fairy Tales.

The following year, the American singer and organist Gary Wright joined the line-up, the band changed its name to Spooky Tooth and released the albums It's All About a Roundabout and Spooky Two. However, Ridley was unhappy and jumped at the chance to assist Steve Marriott in his new venture alongside Peter Frampton. He recalled:

Spooky Tooth were supporting the Small Faces at Alexandra Palace for New Year's Eve. Steve came up to me backstage and said, "Do you fancy being in a new band?" My instant reply was YES. Both of us needed a challenge away from the creeping paranoia of the bands we were in.

Humble Pie spent the first six months of 1969 getting their act together at Marriott's Essex home while Frampton's contractual wrangles were sorted out. "There was a lot of self-indulgence. We were still seeking our direction," Ridley said later of their début, As Safe As Yesterday Is, for Immediate, the label set up by the former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Buoyed up by the success of the single "Natural Born Bugie", Humble Pie issued a follow-up album entitled Town and Country (including the psychedelic Ridley composition "The Light of Love"). Unfortunately, it sank without trace when Immediate went into liquidation while the band were supporting Santana in the US.

The American lawyer turned manager Dee Anthony talked Humble Pie into staying together and secured them a worldwide deal with A&M Records on which they issued their eponymous third album. The band abandoned the mellower material and the emphasis shifted towards Marriott's gutsier style as they kept touring the US in 1971 to promote Rock On and Performance - Rockin' at the Fillmore, a tour de force live double album which charted on both sides of the Atlantic and sold half a million copies within a few weeks.

Frustrated and marginalised by the heavier direction, Frampton left, but Humble Pie kept up their arena-filling momentum, drafting Clempson for the million-selling Smokin', a Top Ten album in the US in 1972. Ridley said:

We were on a high, the music was great, the audiences were fantastic. Our sound turned us on and we turned the

crowds on and put fear into the other bands. We were a little army primed for battle. Around 1972, we were kings of the world, top of the mountain.

In 1973, Humble Pie issued Eat It, another successful double album, mixing studio tracks and live recordings of their stage act with the Blackberries, an all-girl trio of backing vocalists who gave the hard rockers a gospel, soulful flavour. However, Marriott's powerful performances always walked the tightrope between bravura and cliché and the subsequent albums Thunderbox and Street Rats failed to chart. The hedonistic touring life style also took its toll and in 1975 Humble Pie broke up.

After the split, Ridley briefly played with Steve Marriott's All Stars and formed Strange Brew with Clempson and the drummer Cozy Powell. Though most of the huge amounts of money Humble Pie earned in the early Seventies had disappeared into the pockets of accountants and middle-men, Ridley retired from music and eventually moved to Spain.

In April 2001, the surviving members of Humble Pie reunited to pay tribute to Steve Marriott at the Astoria in London on the 10th anniversary of his death. A full-time reunion seemed on the cards, but Frampton and Clempson opted out. Ridley and Shirley recruited the singer Bobby Tench and the guitarist Dave Colwell to tour as Humble Pie, also recording an album, Back On Track, in 2002. More recently, Ridley had been playing on the Costa Blanca with the ex-Wings drummer Geoff Britton.

Tall, blond and good-looking, Greg Ridley stood centre-stage with Humble Pie but remained modest about his achievements, saying,

It was never my intention to just play bass but thank God I did it. I love it. Bass and drums are the backbone of any band. I only gave up being a frontman to better singers. Steve was the best in the business.

Pierre Perrone

Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments