(So Steve is back in London, penniless) He collected Chartbusters and live at the Fillmore has been a worldwide success…Suddenly he had to steal empty and returnable bottles to pay the ciggies… Soon he also had to eat his little horse, Petite Visage (Small Face in French). He could afford the horse when it was happy times, times of the Marriott’s wigs sold in Carnaby Street and times of the Sue Oliver romance.
Uniform was still compulsory when the sixties began. Young Stephen Marriott was full of promises as an actor after his first steps on stage in “Oliver”, inspired by Dickens. His parents were absolutely happy, east end people. The salt of the earth actually, simple, austere. His father was a pub musician.
Grey Mohair, Paisley lining, trousers’ crease with soap (Wet soap in the trousers crease before iron it), another mod secret. 7 inches slits, buttons covered with cloth, and ticket pocket. A NICE suit! Steve Marriott went to school with that suit! With that dream suit. Of course, he’s been sent off, no discussion…immediate sanction! Without any shilly-shallying. So the head master told him… “So what? You know it could only last for one single day! So what’s the point?” Stephen Marriott answered: “A day? Yes, but what a day.”! And so he quit the school and never came back. The year before, he burn it, to let the people know who he was!
But School… Marriott is only 16, he’s already a young talented actor in theater or cinema, it’s enough to pay the suits and the singles. Steve has a real purpose in life: preach the mod words! The black music alphabet, the rhythm and blues. He idolizes Inez and Charlie Foxx, Brook Benton and the other ones. He released a single yet, Imaginary love, which testifies his deep love for Buddy Holly like all the members of his generation. He worked on the original soundtrack of Oliver Twist. With the Frantics. And he begins to tour with the Moments. And he has a secret to share. He is a Mod.
Mod is only an underground culture at that time. Can’t hear black music but at the merry go round’s carnival. Or in a few night clubs which open and evolve in Soho like The Flamingo. There’s also the Coffee shops. The last cool thing is to drink some cappuccinos full of chocolate. It looks like Italia. It looks like freedom. A few name began to be heard, the first mod’s heroes. Georgie Fame gets an unanimous vote, Ronnie Scott, the jazzman who’s dressed like his idols et got the eponymous club, John Stephen or Cecil Gee the first tailors. Mod is cult born of the coll jazz which is also fed by the European elegance, Italian or French, as it can be seen on cinemas’ screen. In the “Nouvelle Vague” movie as an example? Some mods, who don’t speak French, walk around with French newspapers France Soir under an arm, and other mods try to speak like Jean Paul Belmondo. We are in 1962/63 maybe. At that time, wearing white trousers or pink shirt was still an incredible challenge.
But the times are changing. Military obligation has been suppressed. There’s no unemployed people. At the BBC, the “That was the week that was” broadcast is open to all that new energy. War, hard times, privations, it’s still in everyone’s mind. It was only 15 years ago. Adults are still in that era, for life. And in 1963, there’s that massive earthquake suddenly. Completely unexpected in a way. Beatles triumph. Buddy Holly and the Marvelettes. Beatles have many things to share with the mods but actually, in 1963, mods don’t like the Beatles. Like soon, and for the same reason, they won’t like the Rolling Stones… These young people give to everyone the sacred language, and give to everyone the wonderful secrets of Arthur Alexander or of the Cookies.
At last the Beatles give some fresh air to the movement. Mods were in the shadow, a secret army. They became really quick the center of the world, under the full spotlights. The Swinging London and its miracle was very close. Suddenly, it’s Ready Steady Go! Broadcast, British beat invasion. From nowhere and everywhere, thousands of gifted students are hatching and opening…Steve Marriott is a bit younger than the young Ray Davies, Burdon, Winwood, Clapton, Jimmy Page or Jones. Two or three years… An eternity. There’s no time to lose. He creates the Moments, and tour with them for a while, they’ll even try to nick Kinks “You really got me” to have a massive success in the USA. No way. And then, he’ll meet his alter ego, Ronnie Plonk Lane, The Small Faces…