Marianne Faithful: The Decca Years.

By March 1964, it was apparent that pop music wasn’t just a passing fad. The Beatles were a global phenomenon and the British Invasion of the American charts had just begun. Britain was a musical powerhouse ,that the world envied. Despite this, many labels weren’t resting on their laurels.

Record companies in Britain were constantly on the search for ‘the next big thing.’ Surely they reasoned, there was another Fab Four somewhere in Britain. It was all a matter of finding them. Some labels put more effort into this than others.

Decca Records had an enviable network of A&R executives and talent scouts across Britain who had their finger was on the pulse of the local music scene. Night after night, these talent scouts headed out to local pubs and clubs where they listened to new bands and singers. Promising artists were signed to contracts before other labels even had a chance to hear them. Helping Decca Records add to their already enviable roster were various producers and music ‘impresarios.’

They were the trusted ears of some record companies. This included the Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. He was by 1964, was managing the second biggest band in the world. The Rolling Stones only rivals were The Beatles. So when Andrew Loog Oldham recommended a new, unknown artist to Decca Records, they took notice.

The artist Andrew Loog Oldham was unlike any he had come across. Even her background was unlike that of any artist he had encountered. The eighteen year old former convent girl was the daughter of an Austrian aristocrat and a former British Army officer who was now a professor of psychology and Italian literature at Bedford College of London University. They had met in Vienna, and were living in Hampstead when Marianne Faithful was born on 29th December 1946. However, this would soon change.

The Faithful family had to move to Ormskirk in Lancashire, while her father finished his doctorate at Liverpool University. Later, the Faithful family lived at the commune and institution for social research in Braziers Park, a Grade II listed building at Ipsden, Oxfordshire. This must have seemed an idyllic place to grow up. However, when Marianne was six, her parents divorced.

For Marianne Faithful the Reading years weren’t exactly happy ones. She lived with her mother in Milman Road, Reading, which she later referred to as the “Reading Gaol.” No wonder as it was a far cry from the early years of her life.

By then, money was tight and Marianne and her mother were reduced to living in suburbia. To make matters worse, Marianne suffered from tuberculosis; and she had to become a subsidised pupil at St Joseph’s Convent School where she was a weekly boarder. It was at school, that Marianne Faithful first took to the stage.

It wasn’t as a singer though. Instead, she was part of the school’s Progress Theatre group. Little did anyone realise, that when Marianne Faithful left St Joseph’s Convent School, she spend much of her life on the stage. Before that, she escaped the drudgery and boredom of suburban Reading.

Very different was London’s social scene, which Marianne Faithful threw herself into. It was as if she was making up for the Reading years. London was different from small-town Reading and she enjoyed the constant round of parties, record launches and gallery openings. She even travelled to Cambridge to attend a University ball, where she met her future husband John Dunbar. By then, Marianne Faithful was regular in London’s folk circuit.

For some time,  she had been playing coffee shops including Cafe Au Lait and Shades. Her career was in its infancy but through John Dunbar, Marianne Faithful met Peter Asher of Peter and Gordon. They were already enjoying a successful career. However, not as successful as the two men Peter Asher introduced Marianne Faithful to at a party in March 1964.

She went along to a party with John Dunbar in March 1964 which was where she was introduced to the leaders of the two biggest groups in the world. First Marianne Faithful met Paul McCartney, and then she was introduced to Mick Jagger. Little did she realise the effect this meeting would have on her career.

Through Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithful was introduced to Andrew Loog Oldham. Straight away, he signed Marianne Faithful to Decca Records. Soon, work began on her debut single.

 As Tears Go By which was penned by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards was chosen as For Marianne Faithful’s debut single. It was produced by Mike Leander, and released in the summer of 1964. It reached number nine in Britain; twenty-two in the US Billboard 100 and thirty-five in Australia. The eighteen year old had enjoyed a hit single on three continents. However, the followup single wasn’t as successful.

Having chosen to cover a Jagger-Richards song for her debut single, Marianne Faithful decided to cover Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind for her sophomore single. When it was released later in 1965, it failed to chart on both sides of the Atlantic. Surely Marianne Faithful wasn’t a one hit wonder?

Decca Records didn’t think so, and decided that Marianne Faithful should begin work on not just one album, but two albums.

Come My Way.
It was a case of striking while the iron was hot as many artists weren’t didn’t enjoy a long shelf life. So as soon as they had a single under their belt, they were sent into the studio to record an album. Decca Records decided that Marianne Faithful should record two quite different albums, Come My Way and Marianne Faithful. Of the two albums, Come My Way would only be released in Britain.

For Come My Way, Marianne Faithful chose fourteen tracks. Many of the tracks were traditional songs. This included Come My Way, Jaberwoc and Spanish Is The Loving Tongue, Fare Thee Well, Down In The Salley Garden, Full Fathom Five and Bells Of Freedom. Other tracks included Lee Hayes’ Lonesome Traveller and Ian Tyson’s Four Strong Winds. These songs were recorded at IBC Studio, London with producer Tony Calder.

On Come My Way, Marianne Faithful concentrated purely on folk music. This was what Marianne had been singing up until then. She sang and played her acoustic guitar against John Mark’s spartan arrangements. This would prove successful when Come My Way was released.

It wasn’t until 15th April 1965 that Marianne Faithful released Come My Way. The album was well received by critics, and reached number twelve in Britain. However, Come My Way wasn’t released in America. Instead, Marianne Faithful’s eponymous sophomore was released on both sides of the Atlantic the same day as Come My Way.

Marianne Faithful.
Marianne Faithful was recorded at the same time as Come My Way, and would be released in America and Britain. However, it was a very different album to Come My Way. Gone was the folk sound which was replaced by pop, chanson and ye-ye. Already, Marianne For Marianne Faithful was showing that she was a versatile singer.

For Marianne Faithful, fourteen pop covers had been chosen. This included Jackie DeShannon’s Come and Stay With Me; Bacharach and David’s If I Never Get to Love You; Tony Hatch’s Downtown; Jagger and Richards’ As Tears Go By; Jackie DeShannon and Jimmy Page’s In My Time of Sorrow; and Lennon and MCartney’s I’m A Loser. Marianne Faithful also made her songwriting debut, cowriting Time Takes Time with Barry Fantoni. These songs were recorded in two London studios.

At Lansdowne Studios and Decca No. 2 Studio, London, Marianne Faithful recorded another fourteen songs with producer Tony Calder. This time, she was accompanied by a band who flitted between musical genres. This included Plaisir D’Amour the first songs that Marianne Faithful recorded in French. The London born chanteuse was about to become one of the ye-ye girls, and also  enjoyed commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic.

Just like Come My Way, Marianne Faithful was released on 15th April 1965. Reviews of the album were positive, with critics remarking that some of the song’s were perfectly suited to Marianne Faithful. She brought life and meaning to the songs and  it wasn’t a surprise when the album reached fifteen in Britain and twelve in the US Billboard 200. This wasn’t the end to the success.

Come And Stay With Me was released as the lead single and reached number four in Britain and twenty-six in the US Billboard 100. Then This Little Bird was released later in 1965, and reached number six in Britain and thirty-two in the US Billboard 100. Just a year after signing to Decca Records and Marianne Faithful was a star on both sides of the Atlantic.

Less than a month after the release of Come My Way and Marianne Faithful, she married John Dunbar on the 6th of May 1965, in Cambridge. After the wedding, the pair lived in a flat in Belgravia, in London. What looked like a fairytale continued.

Go Away From My World.
Although newly married, and expecting her first child, Marianne Faithful had to record a new American album. It featured twelve tracks which were a mixture of traditional songs and cover versions.

Among the traditional songs were Come My Way, Mary Ann, Scarborough Fair and North Country Maid. Cover versions included Lennon and McCartney’s Yesterday and Tom Paxton’s The Last Thing On My Mind. Marianne also decided to cover Francis McPeake’s Wild Mountain Thyme and Cyril Tawney’s Sally Free and Easy. These songs were produced by Mike Leader, and scheduled for release in November 1965.

Reviews of Go Away From My World were mainly positive. However, looking back with the benefit of hindsight, it’s an album that’s appealing to everyone. There’s songs for people who like folk and pop music; while Marianne Faithful had been a much more pop oriented album. Maybe Go Away From My World fell between two stools?

After the success of Marianne Faithful in America, Go Away From My World reached a disappointing eighty-one on the US Billboard 200. The only crumb of comfort was that when Summer Nights was released as a single and reached number ten in Britain and number twenty-four in the US Billboard 100. Then Marianne’s cover of Yesterday reached number thirty-six in Britain. Her last single from Go Away From My World was the title-track which reached a lowly eighty-nine in the US Billboard 100. Little did Marianne Faithful realise that Go Away From My World would be her last American hit. Sadly, that would’ve been the least of her worries.

In December 1965, Marianne Faithful left her husband of seventh months and went to live with the Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger. Little did she realise this decision would change her life and people’s perception of her forevermore. That was still to come. Before that, Marianne Faithful began work on her next album North Country Maid.

North Country Maid.
As 1966 got underway, Marianne Faithful and Mick Jagger through themselves headfirst into swinging London’s social scene. They epitomised swinging London and were seen at the smartest parties. However, Marianne Faithful had an album to record.

This was her third British album North Country Maid. However, six of the songs had already featured on the now ironically titled American album Go Away From My World. This included traditional songs like Scarborough Fair; How Should I Your True Love and North Country Maid. The other tracks included Cyril Tawney’s Sally Free and Easy; Jon Mark’s Lullabye and Francis McPeake’s Wild Mountain Thyme. This left Marianne to record six new songs.

They were a mixture of traditional song and cover versions. The traditional songs included Cockleshells; She Moved Through The Fair and How Should I Your True Love Know. Other tracks included covers of Tom Paxton’s Last Thing On My Mind; Ewan McColl’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Donavon’s Sunny Goodge Street. These tracks were recorded with producer Mike Leander.

When the recording the six songs began, Marianne Faithful was joined by guitarists Big Jim Sullivan and Jon Marks. He had worked on all of her albums arranging the tracks. Joining them in the studio was an up-and-coming engineer, Gus Dudgeon. Soon, the six songs took shape, and the release of North Country Maid was scheduled for spring 1966.

Before the release of North Country Maid on 1st of April 1966, critics had their say on Marianne Faithful’s third album. The consensus was, that North Country Maid was the finest album of her nascent career. That however, was no surprise.

Great care had gone into choosing the twelve songs that became North Country Maid. These songs seem tailor made for Marianne, as she flits seamlessly between musical genres. Although primarily an album of folk music, blues, country, acid folk and even pop can be heard on North Country Maid. It’s the perfect showcase for Marianne’s versatility as a singer.

Playing an important part in the success of North Country Maid, were Mick Taylor and Jon Mark’s arrangements. Jon Mark and Big Jim Sullivan accompany Marianne on arrangements that although they’re mostly understated and spartan, allow Marianne’s vocal to take centre-stage; She’s equally comfortable singing traditional songs and cover versions on North Country Maid, which was by far, the best album of Marianne Faithful’s career.

Despite that, North Country Maid failed to chart on its release on 1st April 1966. For Marianne Faithful this was a huge blow. Her two previous albums had sold well in Britain, and she had enjoyed several hit singles. However, the warning signs were there when Go Away From My World failed to chart. This made Marianne Faithful’s next album a crucial one.

Love In A Mist.
For her fourth British studio album, Love In A Mist, Marianne Faithful decided to change tack. It was a case of needs must. Not only had her career stalled but acoustic folk music was no longer as popular. Even Bob Dylan had plugged in and gone electric in 1966. So Marianne decided to reinvent herself on Love In A Mist.

She had already started to reinvent herself on her American album, Faithful Forever which  was released in September 1966, but failed to chart. Despite this, half of the tracks that featured on Faithful Forever found their way onto Love In A Mist. Along with the other seven songs, a total of fourteen tracks found their way onto Love In The Mist.

Among the tracks on Love In The Mist were a trio of tracks from Donovan, In the Night Time, Young Girl Blues and Good Guy. Marianne covered Jackie DeShannon’s You Can’t Go Where the Roses Go and With You In Mind. She also covered Tim Hardin’s Don’t Make Promises and Reason To Believe. Other tracks included Lennon and McCartney’s Yesterday; John D. Loudermilk’s; This Little Bird; Bob Lind’s Counting and Bernstein and Sondheim’s I Have A Love. Ne Me Quitte Pas and Coquillages allowed Marianne to show her versatility on a couple chanson songs. Love In The Mist was shaping up to be her most eclectic album.

With seven tracks to record, Marianne entered the studio with a band. This was a first. They played on Love In The Mist, but took care not to overpower Marianne’s vocal. It veers between elegiac and ethereal, to melancholy and wistful. Sometimes it’s hopeful, but often it sounds worldweary. Marianne it seemed, had lived some of the lyrics. On several tracks, there’s a return to the understated sound of previous albums. However, Mike Leander decided to orchestrate parts of Love In The Mist. He even added subtle horns on several tracks. They work well, and should’ve played an important part in the reinvention of Marianne Faithful.

Sadly, by the time Love In The Mist was released, Marianne Faithful had been embroiled in scandal. Her decision to befriend the Rolling Stones had backfired on her badly. This could be traced back to 1965, when she left husband John Dunbar in December, and moved in with Mick Jagger not long after this. By 1965, Marianne had befriended another member of the Rolling Stones’ inner circle…Anita Pallenberg.

Marianne Faithful and Anita Pallenberg became friends in 1965 and soon, they were smoking marijuana together. Then in 1966, Marianne Faithful decided to take her son to stay with Anita Pallenberg and Rolling Stone Brian Jones. By then, Marianne Faithful was a familiar face with Mick Jagger at swinging London’s smartest and wildest parties. However, when she had   some free time she spent it with her friends.

This included Anita Pallenberg and Brian Jones. The time they spent together passed off without incident. If only the same could be said of the events of 12th February 1967.

By then, it was less than a month before Marianne Faithful would release her fourth album. On Sunday the ‘12th’ of February 1967, she was relaxing with members of the Rolling Stones’ inner circle at  Keith Richards country estate Redlands. That night, Sussex police raided Redlands looking for drugs. They claimed to have been tipped off that a drug were being consumed on the premises  When they entered Redlands, they discovered MarianneFaithful covered by just a fur rug. This would come back to haunt her.

After a search of Redlands, various tablets and substances including amphetamine and cannabis were discovered. This lead to the arrest of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. They were charged, and were facing imprisonment. However, as the story became front page news, so did the details of how the police discovered Marianne Faithful. This shocked many little Englanders, who viewed not just Mick Jagger and Keith Richards with distaste, but Marianne Faithful too.

Suddenly, the press were raking over her private life and serving up every salacious piece of petty gossip for the titillation of the little people in their two up, two downs. They stood in judgment of Marianne Faithful who was about to release a new album.

Just over three weeks later, Marianne Faithful released her fourth album, Love In A Mist on the 2nd of March 1967. Despite the quality of the music on Love In A Mist, the album never came close to troubling the charts. Whether the unwanted publicity affected sales of Love In A Mist is a matter of speculation? Following the release of Love In A Mist, Decca Records and Marianne Faithful parted company. Marianne’s Decca Records ‘ swan-song was her most underrated albums.

Love In A Mist is a genre hopping album were Marianne Faithful flits between folk, chanson and pop to country, acid folk and baroque pop. It’s a captivating roller coaster of emotion. However, sadness, melancholy and hurt feature throughout Love In A Mist. Sadly, very few people heard Love In A Mist, which makerked the end of Marianne Faithful’s career at Decca Records. It would be a long time before she reached these heights again.

Indeed, it wasn’t until 1975 that Marianne Faithful released another album Dreamin’ My Dreams. By then, Marianne Faithful had been to hell and was still on the way back. The last eight years had taken their toll.

By 1968, Marianne Faithful was pregnant but sadly, suffered a miscarriage. This must have been a devastating blow for her. At the time, the twenty-two year old singer was struggling to battling cocaine addiction. The last year of her life had been the toughest. However, she was a survivor and would be back.

In 1970, her relationship with Mick Jagger was over, and she lost custody of her son. This lead to Marianne Faithful trying to commit suicide. Over the next few years, she battled anorexia nervosa and heroin addiction. Things got so bad that for two years she was homeless in London. Mike Leander found Marianne Faithful  living on the streets of London and tried to revive her career. However, her addictions and problems made recording an album impossible.

During the early-to-mid seventies, Marianne Faithful made just a few public appearances. Many critics thought that her career was over and some feared the worst. It was a far cry from 1964, when her star was in the ascendancy and she was the brightest star in the London music scene. However, in 1975. she returned with a new album.

Dreamin’ My Dreams was released in 1975 and reached number one in Ireland. It was a start, and a step in the right direction.

When Broken English was released in 1979. the comeback of Marianne Faithful was complete. The album featured her now husky voice. Drink and drugs had taken their toll but this didn’t stop Broken English being released to critical acclaim, and selling over a million copies worldwide.

Since then, Marianne Faithful has rebuilt her life and today one of music’s true survivors celebrates her seventy-fourth birthday.  She’s written two biographies, forged a career as an actress and in 2018 released her twenty-first album Negative Capability. However, Marianne Faithful’s Decca years are regarded as the highlight of what been a long and eventful life and career.

Marianne Faithful: The Decca Years.


  1. I didn’t realise that Marianne Faithfull in the Decca years, even if the recordings weren’t that successful.

    • Initially it looked like Marianne Faithful was going to be really successful in Britain and America but that wasn’t the case.

      Her ye-ye singles were successful and she enjoyed a degree of success in Europe.

      It was strange I wrote the article not realising it was Marianne Faithful’s birthday that day.

      Have a Happy New Year and let’s hope that 2021 is a much better than than 2020.

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