‘Natural Born Bugie’: Revisiting Humble Pie’s Debut Single
On August 8, 1969, Humble Pie released their debut single ‘Natural Born Bugie.’
Peter Frampton told journalist Richard Younger that it was in January 1969 that he and Steve had first got together. “I was round at Glyn Johns’s house listening to this new band he’d recorded, called Led Zeppelin. I’m drooling and my jaw is on the floor and was just turning the record over when the phone rings.” It was Steve Marriott saying that he had quit the Small Faces. Steve had already been helping Peter put his band together and he had found Jerry Shirley, the drummer with Apostolic Intervention who Peter wanted to use. Steve, once he had left the Small Faces, also said he could bring bass player Greg Ridley with him. Humble Pie soon began rehearsing. They were listening to the Band’s Music From Big Pink for musical inspiration – a fact born out by their debut album featuring their first single “Natural Born Bugie.”
On August 8, Humble Pie released their debut “Natural Born Bugie,” Steve Marriott’s composition, on the Immediate label; it was the second to last single release from the label that had been formed in 1965 by Andrew Loog Oldham, while still manager of the Rolling Stones. Humble Pie debuted “Natural Born Bugie” on the BBC in early August along with, “Desperation,” “The Sad Bag of Shaky Jake,” and “Heartbeat.” Of these four tracks only “Desperation,” written by Steppenwolf’s John Kay, appeared on their debut album, As Safe As Yesterday Is, that came out later in August. “Natural Born Bugie” was a single release and the other two tracks were held over until the group’s follow-up album was released in November 1969.
“Natural Born Bugie” made No.4 on the UK charts, an excellent start for their first single. As Safe As Yesterday Is spent a month on the NME album chart, peaking at No.15. The record has the distinction of being the first in which a reviewer, in this case Metal Mike Saunders in Rolling Stone in November 1969, referred to music as “heavy metal.”
If you’ve never listened to As Safe As Yesterday Is, seek it out and give it a spin. It’s one of the most underrated debut albums ever to be released from any band. Full of great songs and some great playing – standout tracks are the title track, “As Safe As Yesterday Is” written by Steve and Peter, “Desperation,” and “What You Will.”
August 8, 2014 at 8:36 pm
As much as I love Humble Pie and Frampton, this just sounds like “Little Queenie” to me.
August 9, 2014 at 3:13 pm
Have to agree on that point, it is a solid invokation of Chuck Berry – but hey rock ‘n roll always goesdown well and no one is 100% original
August 9, 2014 at 3:13 pm
Love this song! Once a Frampton fan, always a Frampton fan… Humble Pie and all!
PS ~ Thanks Mr. Frampton for allowing me to take a picture with you, and also for giving me your autograph. (after your performance in Omaha, Nebraska years ago) You are the best!
August 9, 2014 at 11:18 pm
The ‘supergroup’ tag was really unfortunate given that – really – only Steve Marriott had proven himself at that point as being anything more than just a functional band member (despite Frampton’s – also unfortunate – ‘Face of ’68’ popularity). Still, the first album certainly has its moments and should have fared better. I think the problem was ‘Natural Born… ‘ was too derivative to make a unique statement for the band, and those first two albums were rather unfocused. At least Led Zeppelin defined their template on their first two albums before stretching out to the pastoral greens of acoustic folk. The Pie, however, were all over the musical map to start with. By their self-titled third album – and certainly by the fourth, things were more focused, the personalities better defined, the sound was happening… and then there was the live ‘Rockin’ the Fillmore’, which despite flashes of wonder (Marriott’s geezer-like approach and Frampton’s wonderful tone and playing) suggested that heavy rock boogie land was the bands destination. I was delighted when Frampton went solo at that point, and I loved where he went. Unlike the Pie, he hit his stride pretty much right from the start, with four good to excellent (Frampton’s Camel, Frampton) releases before the wonderful ‘Comes Alive’, which forty years on – in my opinion – has yet to be topped in the live album stakes. Even the Eagles and Fleetwood were unable to come anywhere near not only the success of that album, but the enduring quality that, even at the time was cited as the best-sounding live rock recording of all time. With all respect to Clem Clempson, The Pie had changed dramatically by the time he filled Frampton’s spot and it was, frankly, never to be the same… or even similar again, despite some tremendous talent coming and going through the line-up.
August 10, 2014 at 3:51 pm
concert concert in the seventies 70s Louisville Kentucky great great wish I was there again again and again and again great
November 7, 2014 at 2:12 am
Had the pleasure of seeing the full and fantastic Humple Pie in NYC with the opening band being Edgar Winter doing road work., WOW! Steve Mariot was real good. Miss his presence in the music / guitar world..
August 8, 2015 at 4:13 pm
The band released Rock On. One of the best rock records of all time!
August 9, 2015 at 8:28 pm
Love Steve Marriott!
August 10, 2015 at 5:08 pm
One mistaken. The first Pie Album was definitely released before August 8.I bought it in Brighton in Juli 1969.Thats for sure.
August 11, 2015 at 2:20 am
An oldie but a goodie! HUMBLE PIE!!
August 18, 2015 at 11:13 pm
I remember seeing them at the dome in Brighton. I think I went with Jill Lower from Polegate who was in my year at Eastbourne School of art. The opening act was David Bowie with an acoustic guitar, black plastic looking shirt and a big head of blonde locks. His mike stand had pink bows tied to it which seemed to piss him off. The only song we new was space oddity. I had Natural born boogie, used to play it with you can’t catch me and come together and already had or would soon buy as safe as yesterday is. Each band member came on with an acoustic guitar and played a tune and then they rocked the house.
March 15, 2016 at 4:25 pm
years ago, I heard humble pie on 4 track (yes 4 track). The name of it was pikes peak & from then on I was hooked on h. p It was 1 of the best things I’d ever heard. But trying to find it again has been impossible. Hope someone knows what I’m talking about.
June 29, 2016 at 12:55 am
I saw humble pie in 1971 at the Philadelphia spectrum. In Pennsylvania great concert
September 6, 2016 at 4:35 pm
Humble pie was Hot and Nasty
August 10, 2017 at 11:39 pm
I had the pleasure & privilege of seeing Humble Pie twice! Both times, they opened for Grand Funk Railroad. Should have been the other way around!! They blew GFR away each time! I was 16 at the time & never heard of them before. The first time I saw them was at Madison Sq. Garden in NYC on Dec. 11,1970. I came to see/hear GFR. Humble Pie opened with “Four Day Creep”. Wow… they were so tight & really rocked!! They all could sing, Steve was an incredible singer & entertainer, Frampton’s amazingly lyrical, articulate & powerful guitar style was mind-blowing. Steve’s guitar style intertwined great with Peter. The rest of the band, Greg & Jerry, supported it all fantastically. The audience kept demanding encores, they did two. The second time I saw them was at Shea Stadium in NYC on July 9, 1971, in front of 60,000 people. Again, opening for GFR. Same result – blew them away!! During the middle section of ‘Hallelujah”, when Steve vocally improvs, it started to rain & looked threatening. He started singing the children’s song “Rain, rain, go away”. And it stopped raining! At the end of their act, again the audience wouldn’t let them leave. Did 3 encores. I just had to share all that, for arguably the greatest live band ever!! And I’ve seen many of the greats! I still remember the Humble Pie shows like it was last week. God bless them. RIP Steve.