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The Travels Of Humble Pie, Colosseum Guitar Stalwart ‘Clem’ Clempson

In praise of the stalwart rock guitarist who replaced Peter Frampton in Humble Pie and played with Colosseum, Jack Bruce, Cozy Powell, and many others.

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‘Clem’ Clempson - Photo: Courtesy of Dick Barnatt/Redferns
‘Clem’ Clempson - Photo: Courtesy of Dick Barnatt/Redferns

There’s a stalwart rock guitarist who replaced Peter Frampton in Humble Pie and played with Colosseum, Jack Bruce, Cozy Powell, and many others, but whose name remains unfamiliar to many. It’s David Clempson, known to most of his friends and admirers (if not his mother, as he once revealed) as “Clem.”

Born on September 5, 1949 in Tamworth, Staffordshire, Clempson was encouraged down the blues route when he heard the famed Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton album of 1966. He played in local bands such as the Pinch, then came to national UK prominence as the founder of the blues-rock power trio Bakerloo.

Bakerloo’s brief Harvest

Emerging in the wake of the success of three-piece powerhouses Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Bakerloo (also featuring bassist Terry Poole and drummer Keith Baker) were a short-lived project. But they left their mark with one self-titled album for the up-and-coming Harvest Records.

Bakerloo, released late in 1969 and produced by the emerging Gus Dudgeon, was a combination of the trio’s own compositions and a cover of Willie Dixon’s ”Bring It On Home.” On the group’s demise, Clempson joined jazz-rock pacesetters Colosseum in time for their third album, 1970’s Daughter of Time, which had vocals on five tracks by rhythm ‘n’ blues frontman Chris Farlowe. 

30 Days In The Hole

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When they split in 1971, Clem was recruited by Steve Marriott and Humble Pie to replace Frampton, who was departing for a solo career. His arrival, announced on the Smokin’ album of the following year, marked the most successful chart period in the band’s history, as the LP climbed into the US top ten.

Three further albums followed before Humble Pie split in 1975, whereupon Clem, bandmate Jerry Shirley, and celebrated drummer Cozy Powell formed Strange Brew. Clem was close to joining Deep Purple during that era, jamming with the band and staying with Jon Lord at his house in Malibu, then formed Rough Diamond, with Uriah Heep singer David Byron.

Heavyweight combinations

Countless other projects and collaborations ensued, including work on Powell’s solo album Over The Top and the invitation from Bruce to play with him and fellow heavyweights Billy Cobham and David Sancious. The teaming produced the 1980 album I’ve Always Wanted To Do This.

Clempson’s extraordinarily productive resumé has since included studio work for Paul McCartney, Roger Daltrey, Rod Argent, Roger Waters, and many more, along with countless film scores, including contributions to such hits as Tomorrow Never Dies and Notting Hill. In recent years, he has toured in the later line-up of Colosseum and with his own Clem Clempson Band, who include Adrian Askew on keyboards, bassist Reggie Worthy and drummer Eddie Filipp.

Buy or stream Humble Pie’s The A&M Vinyl Box Set 1979-1975.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Kevin crozier

    September 5, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    I have an album by Nazareth he is on also. Great musician. No mean city is the album.

  2. Martyn

    September 6, 2016 at 2:29 am

    A memorable concert was in Southend-on -Sea when Clem played with Colosseum. Stormy Monday Blue, Lost Angeles etc

  3. Peter Egley, Jr.

    October 25, 2022 at 6:27 am

    Clem Clempson’s band with David Byron called Rough Diamond is one of my favorites!!!
    Rough Diamond
    Rock ‘N’ Roll
    https://youtu.be/OHSgQ6eCa7Q

  4. Ross

    September 5, 2023 at 7:37 pm

    Saw him with Pie when Smokin came out. I was a big fan of Frampton with his jazzy tones but when Clem took to the Rainbow stage with Pie it became an altogether different band. The attack of his solos on Up Our Sleeve knocked me out of my chair!

  5. Kavster

    May 11, 2024 at 11:19 am

    After seeing this thread, it has made me realise I havent listened to my Pie vinyls for over 30 years. I will either dig them out of my garage or listen to them on Spotify

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