The daughter of Small Faces frontman Steve Marriott was just five years old when he died
The daughter of Small Faces frontman Steve Marriott was just five years old when he died in a fire at his Essex home in April 1991. For years she found it difficult to listen to his records, but working on a new musical about the band that is currently touring theatres across the UK has helped Henley singer Mollie Marriott make peace with the past, she tells MATTHEW WILSON
THE hairstyles, smart suits, Vespas, Lambrettas and music of the mods is coming to a theatre near you — courtesy of a brand new musical, All or Nothing, which charts the rise and fall of the Small Faces.
Written by the veteran stage and television actress Carol Harrison, who was a friend of Steve Marriott’s growing up in the East Ham area of London, the show is playing at the Hexagon in Reading tonight (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday), followed by three nights at the Wycombe Swan from Thursday, October 27, to Saturday, October 29.
Directed by BAFTA winner Tony McHale, All or Nothing tells the electrifying yet bittersweet tale of Steve Marriott, Kenney Jones, Ian McLagan and Ronnie Lane.
They became the Small Faces and were rocketed into the big time, only to discover the path to fame and fortune is paved with exploitation, betrayal and ultimately tragedy.
Carol, who plays Steve’s mum Kay in the show, admits the story is deeply personal owing to her long friendship with the singer. “My aunt lived two streets away from his mum, my cousin knew him, and another cousin was in a band with him. He came round to our house when I was eight years old and he was just this amazing bundle of effervescence and talent. I had a bit of a crush on him.”
From that point on, Carol was hooked on the tunes, attitude and fashion of Steve and his bandmates. “I loved the music, I loved their humour, and they were just mod like me. You know what they say. Once a mod, always a mod. I became friends with Kenney Jones from the band and I am very close to Mollie, Steve’s daughter.”
Mollie, 31, doesn’t have a part in the show herself but is credited as the creative consultant and vocal coach, having worked as a backing vocalist and singer since her early teens. Last year she told an interviewer: “I still find it very difficult to play Dad’s music and have to be in a certain frame of mind to be able to listen to it. I didn’t watch any live videos of him until about a year ago and the only reason I did was because my mother said that watching me on stage freaked her out because I’m so like him when I’m performing live.”
Mollie has been working on All or Nothing professionally for the past two years, but her involvement goes back further — to when Carol first handed her a copy of the script.
“From a personal point of view the first time I got hold of it — which was, gosh, five years ago — it was very strange and I couldn’t get on board with it. Not that I didn’t support it, I just mentally couldn’t get on board with it. And then I did, I started really getting on board — helping Carol, having meetings.
“Creative consultant means, you know, Carol running things past me, asking if I was okay with it, if it was accurate — and obviously we’ve been as accurate as we can.
“If we were doing a film adaptation you can be a bit more raw about it, but because of the way my dad met Kenney Jones — they were horse riding — obviously we can’t do that on stage.”
She laughs. “We’re not War Horse, you know? No one’s going to come out as a pantomime horse! So we’ve picked the next day that they met, which was in a guitar shop, and we used that. So it is all still accurate, if you know what I mean?
“As a vocal coach I’ve had to at least sit down and listen to every song a thousand times, take it apart — every piece, every harmony and all that — and to begin with I thought ‘I don’t think I’m going to be able to do this.’ And Carol said ‘I know you can — just be businesslike about it.’
“And it’s amazing, actually, because I just suddenly completely fell in love — and I think the cast have helped me because when I hear Tin Soldier now I think of the cast and I just love it so much. It’s like I have an affection for that song because it reminds me of them now.
“It’s definitely healed a few things for me. I will be honest and say that it has definitely, yeah, it has healed a few things with me.”
Tickets for all performances of All or Nothing can be booked online at www.allornothingthemusical.com