Mick Taylor over at SMALL FACES: GROPING WITH A STOKER group recently interviewed Steve Marriott's daughter, Lesley. Here's a re-post & go check out the group too...
LESLEY (MARRIOTT) ASHCROFT INTERVIEW
Hi there, I'm Lesley, Steve Marriott's oldest offspring! (we think, although there could be more of us out there).
The late great Steve Marriott
I was born in North London, as Sarah Lisa Foulger and stayed with my mother Sally Foulger until I was 15 months old. Sally filed a paternity suit, naming Steve as my father, however after lots of publicity, she decided to drop it and have me adopted. So at 15 months old I went to a National Children's Home in Surrey and was luckily adopted at about 18 months old. I moved back to North London to Winchmore Hill, ironically 10 minutes away from where I was born. I grew up with two very caring parents and a lovely younger brother, Keith, who was also adopted.
I went to Latymer Grammar School, got 9 O levels and 3 A levels, then went on to study Human Resources at the London College of Technology. Sounds like I was a right swot, but I was actually always in trouble in school, and just managed to cram for my exams and somehow passed (more luck than anything else). I have to say that I rebelled against my very strict parents, was a bit of a party girl, had unsuitable boyfriends and enjoyed every minute of it . I moved out of home at 21, left a great job at Mitsubishi and the UK at 26 to do a ski season in Austria and met my husband Mike (who is the best thing that ever happened to me). We consequently travelled through Asia for 6 months with about 20 quid to our name (I got very skinny!) and ended up in NZ, Mike's home, and mine now. We have three hobbits and live happily by the beach in the North Island.
MICK: Hi Lesley many thanks for doing this interview. When did you first find out you were Steve Marriott's daughter?
LESLEY: When I found my mother again at age 18, she told me who my father was. Sally was just 16 when she had me and I consider myself very lucky not to have been one of the many flushed into the sewage system after a hot bath and a bottle of gin!!! Steve apparently knew about me and once rang Sally to get her to bring me round so he could see me……………however it was about 1am, so Sally decided to stay at home. He certainly wasn't ready to get tied to a bird with a kid!! He was just getting famous and who can blame him?
MICK: Have you ever met Steve or seen him?
LESLEY: Once I knew who he was (I had to go and look on an album cover), I went to see Steve play many times. He was with the Packet of Three then and was playing small gigs around London. Sometimes he'd be fantastic and sometimes he'd be crap…..but he was always entertaining. My boyfriend at the time did actually approach him once before a gig – Steve was at the bar having a beer – and told him I was there. His response was "what do you want me to do, mind me f*!&ing language" Hahaha, isn't that just so typical of him!!!
MICK: HaHa, yeah, typical Steve. When did you decide to get in touch with more of Steve's family/children? And how did you go about it?
LESLEY: I didn't make any further effort to contact him and strangely enough, I heard about his death on BBC1 news. About 3 years ago my best friend Kate went to London and brought me back the "All Too Beautiful" biography. It was fascinating for me as the more I read about him, the more similarities I found between myself and him and my children. I suddenly had this urge to meet his mum Kay, his sister and my siblings, all of whom I didn't even know about as I'd sort of closed the book on that chapter of my life. Anyway, I wrote to my grandmother Kay, helped by John Hellier and Iain McGonigle, and sent some photos. I got a lovely response back from his sister Kay saying that they'd both love to meet me. I was taking a trip back to the UK in September 2007, so that's when I first met Kay. After that meeting went well, it felt OK to contact Mollie, Tonya and Toby (facilitated by Mick Taylor!!). I felt that if Kay accepted me, then it would be OK to take it further. We had a laugh about that later as Mollie and Tonya both said "Well if you got past Nan, you must be for real".
MICK: The first of Steve's family you met was Steve's mother Kay – how did that go?
LESLEY: Kay lives about half an hour drive from my parents house, so off I went, with my 10 month old son Leo and drove to Sawbridgeworth, not with butterflies but with bloody great big pigeons flapping around in my stomach. She was at the window when I pulled up and then she opened the door and just gave me a huge hug. I found her to be warm, very switched on, and so very funny. She was only too happy to talk about Steve and how it was around the time I was born. She really didn't know I existed, as the whole paternity suit was dropped and there was never any proof. She said that she only had to look at me and Leo to know! She loved Leo and both her and Aunt Kay plied him with cake and chocolate continuously…..so of course he started bouncing off the walls and smashed one of her ornaments, but she just laughed. She is a very special lady.
MICK: Nice one. What was the reaction from Steve's children, Toby, Mollie and Tonya when they found out they had another sister? And who got in touch with you first?
LESLEY: Well, it was Mick Taylor who broke the news to Tonya and Mollie, and I think it was Tonya I spoke to first. We ran up a big phone bill with her in Canada and me in London. She was amazingly excited and happy about my appearance and I'll never forget that! Luckily for me, I was able to meet Mollie on that trip, just before I left for NZ. I met her, James (her lovely man) and her mum,Manon, in the Dorchester and we had tea (although I could've downed a bottle of wine). They were fantastic and welcoming and I felt very honoured to be accepted so readily.
MICK: Yeah, I was really chuffed for you. You arranged to meet Steve's other children in September 2008 – what was it like when you actually came face to face with them?
LESLEY: This was like the weirdest day of all – going to meet your brother and sister from a plane at Heathrow. Then we drove to Nans and stayed there, like we'd known each other for years. And that's the strangest thing – I do feel like I've known them for years. Of course they have all grown up knowing one another and are obviously really close, but I don't feel like an outsider. We all stayed at Mollie's before the Convention, and we had a great night out together – the first time with the four of us together. In fact we had horrible heads on that Sunday, then we all had Sunday lunch at Manon and Joe's before heading to the Convention. We are all so similar in the way we talk, the things we laugh at, even our dress sense……except Toby wouldn't look so good in a frock. Heehee, he's the loveliest guy and I feel like I've known him forever. We all stay in touch by phone and facebook and are planning a reunion soon.
MICK: Do you listen to a lot of your Dad's music?
LESLEY: Hmmmm, well I know I'm talking to the hardcore fans here and yes, I love Steve's music, but I don't listen to it an awful lot I have to admit. I have two daughters who blast out Lady GaGa, the Sugababes and even Green Day. Although they know every word to the Small Faces hits and are very proud, the good stuff has to wait until they've gone to bed. We all listen to Mollie's album with Dean Reese, "Sweet Felicity Arkwright" too – it rocks.
MICK: Yes, I love Dean's album myself and I recommend it to anyone. Mollie's vocals are outstanding! - Which of your Dad's music do you prefer? What's your favourite songs by your Dad? And what are your other musical tastes?
LESLEY: Really and truly, best of all I love the blues he used to play in those dingy old pubs. He'd grab his guitar, mutter (or shout) a few obscenities and then the magic would start and he'd just make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. His voice and stage presence were truly unique.
As far as other music is concerned I'm a bit mainstream I'm afraid. I started with Rolf Harris, moved on to the Bay City Rollers, then got really grown up and tuned into jazz-funk/soul, followed by acid house. Those were the days when you went out at midnight, drove around looking for the rave/club where it was happening, queued for a couple of hours, finally got in and then the police would do a drug raid and everyone would be sent home. Sod that!! In the nineties I was really into Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins.....and my all time favourites, the Red Hot Chili Peppers who I've seen live a few times. I used to love going to Ronnie Scotts (esp George Melly) and still go to as much live music as possible (but now have three little handbrakes). I still love any reggae, the Stones, Pink Floyd, Sting, Paul Weller and of course the Small Faces. New Zealand has some great sounds too, but not many make it internationally - Bic Runga perhaps and the Finn Brothers (Crowded House).
MICK: I couldn't agree more about your dad being unique - You, Toby, Mollie and Tonya all turned up at the Small Faces convention in 2008 – what did you think of the convention and the fans loyalties to your Dad. I believe you were signing autographs yourself as well, weren't you?
LESLEY: I was actually blown away by the Convention. It was like being on the set of Quadrophenia, without the rockers!! I found it really amazing that all the people there were there for him and the band, and obviously loved him so much. I like to think that he's up there somewhere knowing how much he is appreciated and that his talent is recognised, and I think he'd like that. I felt a bit of a fraud to be sought out for autographs, as who am I really? – but my friends thought it was highly amusing. I'd love to go to another one – the quality of the bands was great and I loved the atmosphere. It was great that John Hellier and the Small Fakers gave Steve jnr a chance to play guitar too. Awesome stuff.
MICK: Talking of Steve Jnr - we're putting an interview together so watch this space - What did your mother tell you about Steve?
LESLEY: My mother died soon after Steve and now there is so much I would have liked to ask her. She did tell me stuff about Steve and I remember looking through her photo album and seeing photos of her with the Who and the Stones (think she was a bit of a groupie). She certainly had some stories. Looking back, I wished I had tried a bit harder and got to know Steve, but I'm just so grateful that I've found such lovely additions to my family. We're all coming back to the UK in June, so we'll be visiting Kay snr, Kay jnr, Lucy, Steve, Mollie, James and my new niece Tabitha. We're trying to persuade Tonya to come too……and Toby promises he's saving for a trip to NZ.
MICK: Have you inherited any of your fathers talents? I've seen and heard Mollie singing on stage and on various albums and she has an outstanding voice especially like you say on the Dean Rees album. Toby is very talented on the guitar and vocal wise and ive seen and heard him do some good stuff. Tonya i've seen doing backing vocals at a small faces convention SO what about yourself? Do you sing or are you like me and only sing in the bath ha?
LESLEY: I adore music, love dancing and play a mean triangle, ...but if I ever try to sing, well, I get abuse from all directions. I have never been a singer. In fact I was even told to mime in the choir at Junior School. Sorry to disappoint but I am atrocious. Leave it to the experts is my motto - in my case that's Mollie and Toby, and I'm sure Tonya too.
MICK: Ha, so you're like me then ;0). Last but not least, is there anything you would like to add?
LESLEY: Although I didn't manage to inherit any musical talents from my father, I was still a big show off like him. I trained as a gymnast and did a lot of competitive stuff and just loved the limelight in that respect. I remember doing a floor routine at The Royal Albert Hall once, in a spotlight, on my own, to thousands and loving it, but put a microphone in my hand and I would have cleared the place in seconds.
Anyway, WAKE UP everyone, I've nearly finished!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks to you all for keeping him, his music and everything around it alive. I think he put his heart and soul into everything he did, and I know that Toby, Mollie, Tonya and now me too, are really happy that he is still being so appreciated.
Cheers Lesley, thank you so much for doing this, you're a star. Speak to you very soon, love and hugs........................Mick xx