Steve Marriott: The forgotten rock star

Bowie called him Britain’s best ever vocalist and Dylan said he was an amazing talent. Yet if you’re under 40 chances are you haven’t heard of Steve Marriott, writes David Lister

Sunday 02 May 2021 22:17 BST
Marriott ‘could have led children off a cliff with that side of his voice’
Marriott ‘could have led children off a cliff with that side of his voice’ (Getty)

Thirty years ago, Steve Marriott died in a house fire. He had almost certainly been smoking in his bedroom, and trying to escape in the middle of the night he opened the wrong door and walked into a cupboard instead of out of the room to safety. In that bizarre manner, the world lost one of its greatest rock stars.

A lot of people under the age of 40 might be somewhat bemused by that statement, as they won’t have even heard of Marriott. For this chirpy, cheeky cockney, the leader of two world-famous bands, has become the forgotten rock star, a man whose talent should have placed him in the pantheon of rock immortals, but who went from selling out arenas and stadiums to playing to a few hundred people in pubs, and whose name is now rarely mentioned.

Add to this the fact that his voice, envied by his most famous peers, was the most soulful of any white singer, and a remarkable life story with colossal drink and drug abuse and an inner demon – given its own name, Melvin – who was responsible for wrecking not just hotel rooms but relationships with band members and wives.

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