DiscoverA History of Rock Music in 500 SongsEpisode 159: “Itchycoo Park”, by the Small Faces
Episode 159: “Itchycoo Park”, by the Small Faces

Episode 159: “Itchycoo Park”, by the Small Faces

Update: 2022-12-071


Episode 159 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Itchycoo Park” by the Small Faces, and their transition from Mod to psychedelia. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.

Patreon backers also have a twenty-five-minute bonus episode available, on "The First Cut is the Deepest" by P.P. Arnold.

Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at and


I say Brian Potter co-wrote "Rhinestone Cowboy". I meant to say he co-produced the track for Glen Campbell. Larry Weiss wrote it.


As so many of the episodes recently have had no Mixcloud due to the number of songs by one artist, I've decided to start splitting the mixes of the recordings excerpted in the podcasts into two parts. Here's part one and part two.

I've used quite a few books in this episode. The Small Faces & Other Stories by Uli Twelker and Roland Schmit is definitely a fan-work with all that that implies, but has some useful quotes.

Two books claim to be the authorised biography of Steve Marriott, and I've referred to both -- All Too Beautiful by Paolo Hewitt and John Hellier, and All Or Nothing by Simon Spence. Spence also wrote an excellent book on Immediate Records, which I referred to.

Kenney Jones and Ian McLagan both wrote very readable autobiographies.

I’ve also used Andrew Loog Oldham’s autobiography Stoned, co-written by Spence, though be warned that it casually uses slurs.

P.P. Arnold's autobiography is a sometimes distressing read covering her whole life, including her time at Immediate.

There are many, many, collections of the Small Faces' work, ranging from cheap budget CDs full of outtakes to hundred-pound-plus box sets, also full of outtakes. This three-CD budget collection contains all the essential tracks, and is endorsed by Kenney Jones, the band's one surviving member.

And if you're intrigued by the section on Immediate Records, this two-CD set contains a good selection of their releases.

ERRATUM-ISH: I say Jimmy Winston was “a couple” of years older than the rest of the band. This does not mean exactly two, but is used in the vague vernacular sense equivalent to “a few”. Different sources I've seen put Winston as either two or four years older than his bandmates, though two seems to be the most commonly cited figure.


For once there is little to warn about in this episode, but it does contain some mild discussions of organised crime, arson, and mental illness, and a quoted joke about capital punishment in questionable taste which may upset some.

One name that came up time and again when we looked at the very early years of British rock and roll was Lionel Bart. If you don't remember the name, he was a left-wing Bohemian songwriter who lived in a communal house-share which at various times was also inhabited by people like Shirley Eaton, the woman who is painted gold at the beginning of Goldfinger, Mike Pratt, the star of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), and Davey Graham, the most influential and innovative British guitarist of the fifties and early sixties.

Bart and Pratt had co-written most of the hits of Britain's first real rock and roll star, Tommy Steele:

[Excerpt: Tommy Steele, "Rock with the Caveman"]

and then Bart had gone solo as a writer, and written hits like "Living Doll" for Britain's *biggest* rock and roll star, Cliff Richard:

[Excerpt: Cliff Richard, "Living Doll"]

But Bart's biggest contribution to rock music turned out not to be the songs he wrote for rock and roll stars, and not even his talent-spotting -- it was Bart who got Steele signed by Larry Parnes, and he also pointed Parnes in the direction of another of his biggest stars, Marty Wilde -- but the opportunity he gave to a lot of child stars in a very non-rock context. Bart's musical Oliver!, inspired by the novel Oliver Twist, was the biggest sensation on the West End stage in the early 1960s, breaking records for the longest-running musical, and also transferred to Broadway and later became an extremely successful film.

As it happened, while Oliver! was extraordinarily lucrative, Bart didn't see much of the money from it -- he sold the rights to it, and his other musicals, to the comedian Max Bygraves in the mid-sixties for a tiny sum in order to finance a couple of other musicals, which then flopped horribly and bankrupted him. But by that time Oliver! had already been the first big break for three people who went on to major careers in music -- all of them playing the same role.

Because many of the major roles in Oliver! were for young boys, the cast had to change frequently -- child labour laws meant that multiple kids had to play the same role in different performances, and people quickly grew out of the roles as teenagerhood hit. We've already heard about the career of one of the people who played the Artful Dodger in the original West End production -- Davy Jones, who transferred in the role to Broadway in 1963, and who we'll be seeing again in a few episodes' time -- and it's very likely that another of the people who played the Artful Dodger in that production, a young lad called Philip Collins, will be coming into the story in a few years' time.

But the first of the artists to use the Artful Dodger as a springboard to a music career was the one who appeared in the role on the original cast album of 1960, though there's very little in that recording to suggest the sound of his later records:

[Excerpt: Steve Marriott, "Consider Yourself"]

Steve Marriott is the second little Stevie we've looked at in recent episodes to have been born prematurely. In his case, he was born a month premature, and jaundiced, and had to spend the first month of his life in hospital, the first few days of which were spent unsure if he was going to survive. Thankfully he did, but he was a bit of a sickly child as a result, and remained stick-thin and short into adulthood -- he never grew to be taller than five foot five.

Young Steve loved music, and especially the music of Buddy Holly. He also loved skiffle, and managed to find out where Lonnie Donegan lived. He went round and knocked on Donegan's door, but was very disappointed to discover that his idol was just a normal man, with his hair uncombed and a shirt stained with egg yolk.

He started playing the ukulele when he was ten, and graduated to guitar when he was twelve, forming a band which performed under a variety of different names. When on stage with them, he would go by the stage name Buddy Marriott, and would wear a pair of horn-rimmed glasses to look more like Buddy Holly.

When he was twelve, his mother took him to an audition for Oliver! The show had been running for three months at the time, and was likely to run longer, and child labour laws meant that they had to have replacements for some of the cast -- every three months, any performing child had to have at least ten days off.

At his audition, Steve played his guitar and sang "Who's Sorry Now?", the recent Connie Francis hit:

[Excerpt: Connie Francis, "Who's Sorry Now?"]

And then, ignoring the rule that performers could only do one song, immediately launched into Buddy Holly's "Oh Boy!"

[Excerpt: Buddy Holly, "Oh Boy!"]

His musical ability and attitude impressed the show's producers, and he was given a job which suited him perfectly -- rather than being cast in a single role, he would be swapped around, playing different small parts, in the chorus, and occasionally taking the larger role of the Artful Dodger. Steve Marriott was never able to do the same thing over and over, and got bored very quickly, but because he was moving between roles, he was able to keep interested in his performances for almost a year, and he was good enough that it was him chosen to sing the Dodger's role on the cast album when that was recorded:

[Excerpt: Steve Marriott and Joyce Blair, "I'd Do Anything"]

And he enjoyed performance enough that his parents pushed him to become an actor -- though there were other reasons for that, too. He was never the best-behaved child in the world, nor the most attentive student, and things came to a head when, shortly after leaving the Oliver! cast, he got so bored of his art classes he devised a plan to get out of them forever. Every art class, for several weeks, he'd sit in a different desk at the back of the classroom and stuff torn-up bits of paper under the floorboards. After a couple of months of this he then dropped a lit match in, which set fire to the paper and ended up burning down half the school.

His schoolfriend Ken Hawes talked about it many decades later, saying "I suppose in a way I was impressed about how he had meticulously planned the whole thing months in advance, the sheer dogged determination to see it through. He could quite easily have been caught and would have had to face the consequences. There was no danger in anybody getting hurt because we were at the back of the room. We had to b








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Episode 159: “Itchycoo Park”, by the Small Faces

Episode 159: “Itchycoo Park”, by the Small Faces

Andrew Hickey