Clip: Dave Hoekstra interviews Ian McLagan
The faces behind the Faces
October 8, 2006
BY DAVE HOEKSTRA Staff Reporter
The rain poured on the Rolling Stones last weekend during their
historic concert at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Ky.
Mick Jagger was backstage changing expensive clothes when Keith
Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts huddled for a grungy version of
"Little T&A," an overlooked Richards track from the Stones album
Now, the Stones were a band -- sloppy but true. But similar sparks
ignited the music of Faces, the Stones' contemporaries and (ahem) the
world's greatest rock 'n' roll band between 1969 and 1973.
Wood has been in both bands. He, keyboardist Ian McLagan and the late
bassist Ronnie Lane were kindred spirits in the Faces (which started
life as the Small Faces) -- the band where lead singer Rod Stewart
morphed into the glamourous, swaggering Jagger role.
Where are they all now? This week answers all the questions.
# First, the Stones roll into Soldier Field at 7 p.m. Wednesday for
the third Chicago stop on their juggernaut "A Bigger Bang" tour, this
time with Elvis Costello & the Imposters opening.
# At 9 that same night, McLagan -- who first played with the Stones on
stage in 1964, and who will open for them later this month in his
adopted hometown of Austin, Texas -- brings his Bump Band to the
Chicago area for a three-night residency at FitzGerald's in Berwyn.
# The day before, Tuesday, Rod Stewart hits the streets with a new CD
of covers, "Still the Same: Great Rock Classics of Our Time" -- and
hits movie theaters nationwide with a satellite broadcast concert.
There's a chance Wood could show up for one of McLagan's shows, McLagan says.
"The Stones were in Houston in December, and we were playing the
Continental Club," McLagan said from his home in Austin. "They finish
around 11, we start around 11:30. The place was packed. I started
playing 'Mystifies Me' which is one of Woody's songs [from 1974], and
Woody walked in. He and his security guards were pushing their way
through the center of the crowd, and he's yelling, 'I'm here, you
bastard!' I got halfway through the song, and next thing I know we're
lifting him up on the stage."
Wood joined the band for four extended songs, including the Small
Faces' "Whatcha' Going to Do About It" and McLagan's "Little
In 1964, McLagan and his first band, Muleskinner, opened for the
Stones in in England after their first American tour. McLagan then was
the Stones' keyboardist for their 1978 and '81 tours. Now, McLagan and
his Bump Band are set to open for the Stones on Oct. 22, when they
appear in Austin.
"This may or may not be their last tour," McLagan said of the Stones.
"And it's their first time in Austin. The Faces never made it to
Austin. Woody played here with his band, and Ronnie Lane sat in with
McLagan's latest record is "Spiritual Boy -- An Appreciation of Ronnie
Lane" (Maniac Records), an elegant tribute to his former mate, who
would have turned 60 in April. Lane died of complications from
multiple sclerosis in May 1997. The record features Faces chestnuts
such as "Glad and Sorry" and "Debris," which were written by Lane, and
"You're So Rude," which was written by Lane and McLagan.
"There were many sides to Ronnie Lane," McLagan said. "He was a rascal
with the ladies. He was a thinker, right from the early days. When we
took acid, I was overcome with the beauty of flowers -- or anything.
I'd spend all night drawing Ronnie, myself, the carpet. Well, he
discovered Buddhism. That alienated him from the rest of us, but we'd
snap him out of it every now and then."
Lane wrote the timeless song "Debris" (the flip side to the Faces'
1971 hit "Stay With Me") about his father, Stan Lane. "Debris" says
much in a short song -- Lane describes a return visit home: "I went
there and back just to see how far it was / and you, you tried to tell
me, but I had to learn for myself ..." -- and McLagan has updated the
track, adding searching cellos.
McLagan's tribute CD has a picture of a smiling Stan Lane, smoking a
cigarette and plunking away on a ukelele. "Ronnie had that photograph
on his bedroom wall up until the moment he died," McLagan said. "It
was on his bedroom wall when we first lived together in 1966. And that
photograph is a total lie. His dad was a lovely man, but he never wore
glasses, he didn't smoke and he couldn't play the ukelele. It was
However, one time Stan Lane gave his son this lasting advice: "You
play an instrument, you always have a friend."
Another "Spiritual Boy" highlight is "Itchycoo Park," the Small Faces
1968 smash that McLagan reworks into a ballad. Lane had a folk music
sensibility. The Small Faces included vocalist-guitarist Steve
Marriott (replaced later by Stewart), McLagan, Lane and future Faces
drummer Kenney Jones.
In 1990, Lane asked McLagan to join him on a tour of Japan. While
rehearsing for the tour in Austin, McLagan met his current drummer Don
Harvey (Billy Bragg, Charlie Sexton). Lane wanted to include "Itchycoo
Park" in the set.
"We were doing it the way the Small Faces cut it, and I didn't like
it," McLagan said. "I liked the track, but I just didn't like, 'IT'S
ALL TOO BEAUTIFUL!' It's too jolly. And I didn't feel life was all too
beautiful at that point."
McLagan later studied the lyrics and even wrote them out. He said, "I
realized he's talking about Oxford and Cambridge and England; much
bigger than, 'It's all too beautiful.' He says, 'Over a bridge of
sighs,' which is Cambridge, 'to rest my eyes in shades of green, under
dreaming spires' -- that's Oxford. It's a beautiful song, and I
discovered it for the first time when I studied it. ... That's it.
People are now rediscovering that song, which is a great thing."
Although bass was not Lane's primary instrument, he became known for
his melodic bass lines in the Faces. (After the Faces broke up, Lane
was guitarist for Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance.) "So many bass players
admire him," McLagan said. "My bass player included [Mark Andes of
Spirit]. Glen Matlock [original Sex Pistols bassist] -- who would have
been my choice had the Faces ever reformed -- always loved Ronnie's
playing. We'll do a Ronnie song, and he plays it just like Ronnie. A
lot of bass players are, 'boom, boom, boom,' padding and pumping.
Ronnie would always find a melody. He'd suggest lovely horn lines. God
For a complete look at the Rolling Stones' Louisville concert, visit
McLagan on Stewart: He's a thief and he can't sing
Rod Stewart's new disc "Still the Same: Great Rock Classics of Our
Time," out on Tuesday, is a K-Tel sounding project that follows his
hugely successful string of four albums covering the Great American
Songbook. Here, he turns to rock and covers Bonnie Tyler's "It's a
Heartache" (a natural for Stewarts' raspy vocals), Bob Dylan's "If Not
For You," Van Morrison's "Crazy Love," John Fogerty's "Have You Ever
Seen the Rain?" and the Bob Seger title track, among others.
"He can't write -- all he can do is cover Bob Seger's hits!" quips his
old bandmate Ian McLagan, who backed Stewart in the rollicking Faces
in the early '70s.
McLagan's 1998 biography, All The Rage: My High Life With the Small
Faces, the Faces, the Rolling Stones and Many More (Pan Books) ranks
with Bob Dylan's Chronciles, Vol. 1 as brilliant and seamless rock 'n'
roll literature. At the end of the book, McLagan -- one of the most
acclaimed organ players in rock -- calls out Stewart for hoarding
McLagan's beloved Hammond B-3 for 22 years after the Faces broke up.
McLagan got the B-3 back in 1998, but he had to pay to have it shipped
from a southern California storage facility to his home in Austin,
During a conversation last week, McLagan cracked up when he learned
that Stewart will be at the Nokia Theatre Times Square in New York
City Monday night at the same time McLagan and his band will be
appearing at the famed Maxwell's in Hoboken, N.J.
Monday's sold-out "Rod Stewart Rocks Times Square" concert will be
broadcast nationwide at 117 participating theaters to promote the new
CD. The concert will be broadcast locally at 8:30 p.m. Monday at
Cinemark 7 Bridges in Woodridge, Lincolnshire Stadium Imax in
Lincolnshire and Chicago Showplace 16 in Crystal Lake.
"I knew Rod had that B-3!," McLagan said. "In '86, he had a show at
Wembley in London. It wasn't selling very well, so he decided to have
a Faces reunion. Ronnie Lane and I flew in from America. It was quite
the shambles. We set up as Faces with the organ and piano at the front
of the stage. But he said, 'If it goes wrong, there's always your
organ back there.' His keyboard player was using it. He wouldn't admit
to that before. I had just bought that when the Faces broke up [Nov.
1, 1975 in Minneapolis], and he kept all our amps and everything.
That's what I call a thief. I could say it to his face, but he won't
Just a couple of weeks ago, Stewart was quoted tossing around the idea
of a Faces reunion, saying, "It'd be great to put the band together
for charity or a one-off event."
So what are the chances?
"It's not going to happen," McLagan said. "He's a solo artist. He
should go back to his old fogey music, that Great American Songbook
stuff. He can't sing rock 'n' roll. He can't sing anything anymore."
Classic rock trifecta!
ROLLING STONES WITH ELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTERS
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Soldier Field
Phone: (312) 559-1212
IAN McLAGAN'S BUMP BAND
When: 9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday
Where: FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn
Phone: (312) 559-1212
'ROD STEWART ROCKS TIMES SQUARE'
When: 8:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Cinemark @ Seven Bridges, Woodridge; Regal Lincolnshire 20,
Lincolnshire; Regal Showplace 16, Crystal Lake
Tickets: $15; www.big-screenconcerts.com
>> "It's not going to happen," McLagan said. "He's a solo artist. Heshould go back to his old fogey music, that Great American Songbook
stuff. He can't sing rock 'n' roll. He can't sing anything anymore."
wow I wonder what Rod did to Mac. The last time I spoke to him, he
wasn't kind to Rod but he wasn't this blunt.
a former conservative, Barkley told a local reporter, "I was a Republican - until they lost their minds."
- I don't recall the specifics, but I believe both Mac and Kenny Jones were
angry about Rod's share of Faces royalties and not giving a fair share to
Ronnie Lane when he was ill. It's not the first invective one of them has
thrown Rod's way.
On 10/10/06, Jim Caligiuri <jcalig@...> wrote:
> >> "It's not going to happen," McLagan said. "He's a solo artist. He
> should go back to his old fogey music, that Great American Songbook
> stuff. He can't sing rock 'n' roll. He can't sing anything anymore."
> wow I wonder what Rod did to Mac. The last time I spoke to him, he
> wasn't kind to Rod but he wasn't this blunt.
> Something changed.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]