The Small Faces

 The Small Faces

 Steve Marriott – circa 1966

 “Careful of that man with his ball-point pen / He’ll take your money” – ‘Don’t Burst My Bubble’ * (Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane)

* This is a fairly obscure Small Faces song recorded –but not released – during their time on the Immediate Records label.  It only shows up on latter day compilation albums.

“You’ve got to pick a pocket or two.”  Although this may sound like the motto of a rock group manager, most would recognise it as a line from the stage musical ‘Oliver!’  Fagin, the father-figure of a band of young thieves, dispenses this advice to his protégées.  Chief amongst the aspiring thieves is a lad named The Artful Dodger.  This role is played on the London stage by Steve Marriott.  Later, he becomes the leader of British rock band The Small Faces.  This outfit is managed, in succession, by two of the 1960s more colourful management personalities.  The pockets of The Small Faces may not have been picked by these impresarios, but the group picked the disposable income out of their fans pockets with their catchy singles.

Steve Marriott (30 January 1947 – 20 April 1991) is born Stephen Peter Marriott in East Ham Hospital, Manor Park, London, England.  He is the son of Bill and Kay Marriott.  Bill Marriott is a printer, while Kay works at the Tate & Lyle factory, an agribusiness concern.  Steve is described as a ‘cheeky, hyperactive child.’  Steve Marriott forms his first band, The Wheels, in 1959.  This outfit goes through name changes to The Coronation Kids and The Mississippi Five while shuffling new members in…and out.  Steve is attending Sandringham Secondary Modern School and a lot of the personnel are his school chums.

Parallel to the youngster’s rock music ambitions, Steve Marriott finds work in a more traditional field of music.  It is his father, Bill Marriott, who spots an advertisement for Lionel Bart’s stage musical, ‘Oliver!’, in 1960.  This is based on the Charles Dickens story ‘Oliver Twist’ (1838).  The 13 year old Steve Marriott is given a part in the show.  In fact, he plays a number of different parts – Oliver Twist, The Artful Dodger, and others – on various nights.  However, it is as The Artful Dodger he becomes best known, even appearing on the soundtrack recording.  (‘Oliver!’ (1968) becomes a motion picture later, but that is after Steve Marriott has left the production.)  Steve Marriott’s parents encourage his acting ambitions, transferring him to the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, London.

Yet, by the time he is 16, Steve Marriott is concentrating on becoming a pop singer.  In 1963 he releases a solo single on Decca Records, ‘Give Her My Regards’.  To promote the song, he forms a band to play gigs.  This becomes The Moments.  In 1964 The Moments perform eighty gigs.  In July 1964 Steve Marriott meets Ronnie Lane at one of The Moments’ shows.  They don’t become friends at this point – they barely know each other – but Ronnie Lane will soon re-enter the story.  After The Moments break up, Steve Marriott forms The Checkpoints, but this seems to be a short-lived project.  Describing himself as “an out-of-work singer”, Steve Marriott finds himself employed as a sales clerk at J60 Music Bar.

Ronald Frederick Lane (1 April 1946 – 4 June 1977) – a.k.a. ‘Plonk’ – is born in Stratford, East London.  He is the son of Stanley Lane, a lorry driver (truck driver), and his wife, Elsie.  Ronnie is the couple’s second son.  Ronnie has an elder brother, Stanley Lane, Jnr.  Although they are possibly unaware of it, the family has a tragic secret.  Elsie Lane and her two sons, Stanley Jr. and Ronnie, all have a genetic predisposition to the crippling disease Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  At various points in the future, all three will suffer from MS.  Ronnie Lane leaves school at 16 and gets a job as an apprentice to a plumber or, as it is more colloquially expressed in the East End, he becomes ‘a plumber’s mate.’  Like Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane has ambitions to be a musician.  Ronnie’s elder brother, Stanley Jr., introduces Ronnie to Kenny Jones.

Kenneth Thomas Jones is born 16 September 1948 in London Hospital, Whitechapel, East London.  His parents are Samuel and Violet Jones.  Kenny is an aspiring drummer.

“My brother introduced me to Kenny Jones,” confirms Ronnie Lane.  “Then the three of us went out.  Then we got Jimmy Winston in the band.”

James Edward Winston Langwirth is born 20 April 1945 in Stratford, East London.  He has two older brothers, Frank and Derek.  Jimmy’s father, James Langwirth Snr., is the landlord of the Ruskin Arms, a pub in Manor Park.  This is an important point because the boys get to rehearse at the pub.  It also helps that their new member owns a van to transport the group around from gig to gig.  Jimmy Langwirth adopts the stage-name Jimmy Winston.  The band is called The Pioneers.  However, before long, the name is changed to The Outcasts.

One day in 1965 the paths of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane cross again.  “I used to work in a music shop [J60 Music Bar] in the East End [of London],” Marriott reminds us.  “Ronnie Lane came in and I sold him a bass…and he said, ‘Why don’t you come and have a sing with us?’…We went down to some pub in Bermondsey that night.  The band was called The Outcasts.  They seemed quite good.  Kenny Jones was in that band.  Ronnie and Kenny had a regular gig in this Bermondsey pub.  Me thinking I was [wild man rock star of the 1950s] Jerry Lee Lewis, I started on the piano.  I ended up jumping on it and smashing it.  Consequently, they all got fired.  They didn’t have a gig no more and the band broke up because of that.  So it was my fault.  But Ronnie and Kenny said, ‘They weren’t much.  We might as well stick with him.  He caused the problems.’”

In this way, The Small Faces are born in 1965 with a line-up of: Steve Marriott (vocals, guitar), Jimmy Winston (organ), Ronnie Lane (bass) and Kenny Jones (drums).  Steve says a girl he knows named Annabelle suggested the group’s name.  All the members of the group are of small stature so, naturally, they have ‘small faces.’  Additionally, they come up through London’s mod culture and a ‘Face’ is ‘a piece of mod slang for a fashion leader.’

Ronnie Lane says that The Small Faces obtained “a residency at the Cavern Club in Leicester Square.  We played there for about three weeks, four weeks.  And even though we were kinda busking [i.e. very amateur], we got very popular…In the end, some guy named Don Arden turned up and he signed us up as a manager.  And we were all quite excited, y’know?”

Don Arden was born Harry Levy and is a larger-than-life personality on the rock music scene.  He first achieved notoriety in 1960 when he became the manager of American rock star Gene Vincent and it is this that primarily impresses The Small Faces.  Arden arranges U.K. tours for various American acts.  He branches into the local music scene in 1964, taking on the British group The Nashville Teens.  The Small Faces are his next signing.  Don Arden gains a reputation for ‘aggressive, sometimes illegal, business tactics.’

Kenny Jones takes up the tale: “Don [Arden] wanted us to get a single out straight away and he introduced us to Ian Samwell [a bassist in The Drifters, the backing band of British pop star Cliff Richard, in the late 1950s].  We met Ian.  We got along with him really well.  He played a song, ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’.  So we went in the studio, recorded it, and the next thing we knew it’s a hit.”

‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’ (UK no. 14) is the debut single by The Small Faces.  It is released on Decca Records on 6 August 1965.  With its squelchy keyboards, this song has a sort of rough, danceable rhythm to it.  Officially, the authors of the song are Samwell / Potter.  Producer Ian Samwell pens the lyrics, but ‘Potter’ is a pseudonym for Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane who wrote the music, borrowing rather heavily from U.S. soul singer Solomon Burke’s 1964 song ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’.

“We started to write songs [ourselves],” says Kenny Jones.  “[We] wrote this other song which we wanted to be the next single, ‘I’ve Got Mine’, which I loved…but it ended up not being a hit.”

It is true that ‘I’ve Got Mine’ ‘flops’.  It is also the last Small Faces song on which Jimmy Winston plays.  Ronnie Lane notes that, “None of us could play properly [at the time].  I’d just started to play the bass and Steve [Marriott had] just started to play the guitar.  But that’s alright.  We were keen…But Jimmy Winston, he had an ego on top of it, so he had to go.”

Jimmy Winston’s replacement is Ian ‘Mac’ McLagan (12 May 1945 – 3 December 2014).  He is born William Patrick McLagan in West Middlesex Hospital, Isleworth, Middlesex.  “I’d left art school to follow my dream,” Mac says.  “I was a professional musician – which meant I didn’t have a job…I got a phone call from Don Arden…and he just said, ‘I’ve got a job for you’…I said, ‘Who is it?’  He said, ‘It’s The Small Faces.’  I went, ‘F*** me!’…Shortly after, Steve [Marriott], Ronnie [Lane] and Kenny [Jones] came into the room…and I didn’t realise we were the same height.  And that wasn’t a prerequisite.  I didn’t have to be short to join the band…Ronnie Lane and I were the giants in the band at five feet, six inches, and Kenny Jones and Steve Marriott were the really tiny chaps at five feet, five and a half inches.”

With this crucial membership change, the classic Small Faces are assembled in 1966 as: Steve Marriott (vocals, guitar), Ian McLagan (organ), Ronnie Lane (bass) and Kenny Jones (drums).

The Small Faces is a mod group.  However, mod is a fashion – or cultural – movement rather than a musical genre.  The mods (short for ‘moderns’) are one of two main tribes of British youth in the 1960s.  The other group, the rockers, revere 1950s early rock ‘n’ roll are decked out in greasy quiffs, leather jackets and jeans.  They ride motorcycles.  The mods favour trilby hats, sharp suits and winklepicker shoes.  They ride motor-scooters.  The Small Faces represent the mods of London’s East End just as The Who is their West End equivalent.

There are four major musical strains blended into the distinctive sound of The Small Faces: rhythm and blues, psychedelia, music hall, and hard rock.  The mods’ musical tastes lean towards American rhythm and blues and soul music.  Ronnie Lane recalls being impressed by Steve Marriott’s music collection: “He had some great records – Stax and Motown.”  These record labels and the musical genres rhythm and blues and soul are all associated with, specifically, African-Americans.  As white British boys, the attempts by The Small Faces and The Who to imitate the sounds their mod audience wants to hear are doomed to failure.  Yet, in their enthusiastic efforts, they create something more original.  The biggest trait from rhythm and blues present in The Small Faces may be the imprint on Steve Marriott’s vocals.  He has a ‘uniquely powerful voice.’  Marriott can, when he wants, summon up a voice so deep and raw it seems impossible that it could come from the young, skinny white boy on stage.  Although not present at the outset, The Small Faces are quick to adopt aspects of psychedelic sound (1966 – 1968).  This tries to sonically replicate the effects of mind-expanding drugs like L.S.D. via whimsical lyrics and eccentric instrumentation and arrangements.  “Ronnie and I had really great acid trips,” notes Ian McLagan of the band’s L.S.D. experiences.  Music hall is the British equivalent of the U.S. vaudeville shows.  In the 1930s singers, storytellers, comedians, dancers and novelty acts would entertain the masses.  With his theatrical background, Steve Marriott picks up a lot of these characteristics, usually adopting a cockney accent as though he is still playing The Artful Dodger.  “Steve had a great sense of humour,” says McLagan.  “Ronnie too.  They were vaudevillian.  There was the soulful blues man but…also…Steve had this desire to be a stand-up comedian.”  Finally, The Small Faces become a very credible hard rock act.  They could be as crushing as their rivals The Who on some tracks.  Ian McLagan says of Steve Marriott, “His guitar playing was unique…He got this great edgy sound from literally just feedback [electrical reverberations from the amplifier].”  Mac continues, “Ronnie, he was one of the finest bass-players…He was very ahead of his time.”  Speaking of Kenny Jones, he claims, “I rate him extremely highly.  He was unbelievable…Kenny could do it all.”  Jones returns the compliment: “When I heard Mac play I was in heaven because it made me play differently.  It made me open up.”

The Small Faces songs are primarily composed by the team of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, ‘one of the strongest songwriting duos of the 1960s.’  Broadly, Marriott writes the words and Lane the music, but this can vary from song to song as can the proportion of each man’s songwriting contribution.

After ‘I’ve Got Mine’ underperforms, Kenny Jones points out that, “[Manager] Don Arden wasn’t gonna risk [another song written by The Small Faces] so then he called in Kenny Lynch and Mort Shuman to write this song ‘Sha La La La Lee’.  We went into Decca studios in West Hempstead [and recorded it].”  The 1966 single ‘Sha La La La Lee’ (UK no. 3, AUS no. 51) has Steve Marriott’s ringing guitar chords strafing Ian McLagan’s carnival fairground organ sounds while a thrusting rhythm propels the song into the hearts and minds of listeners.

The debut album, ‘Small Faces’ (1966) (UK no. 3), is released in May.  The album is produced by Ian Samwell.  Some of the tracks were recorded with Jimmy Winston before his departure, while Ian McLagan plays organ on the balance of the material.  This album includes both ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’ and ‘Sha La La La Lee’.

Steve Marriott becomes a father in 1966.  A liaison with Sally Foulger results in the birth of Sarah Lisa Foulger (born 9 June 1966).  The child is adopted out by the young and unprepared parents.  As a married adult, the child becomes known as Lesley (Marriott) Ashcroft and eventually tracks down both her biological parents.

‘Hey Girl’ (UK no. 10) is the single that really gets the Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane songwriting combination started.  Exuberant as a puppy, it is irresistible.

On 17 September 1966 ‘All Or Nothing’ (UK no. 1) becomes The Small Faces’ one and only no. 1 single.  “I thought you’d listen to my reasoning / But now I see you don’t hear a thing,” begins Steve Marriott glumly.  The scintillating sound bursts through as he declares it’s, “All or nothing / For me.”  Ian McLagan’s piping keyboards reintroduce the tension to the song and it continues to toggle back-and-forth from sullen brooding to defiant power.

The Small Faces’ 1966 singles output is rounded out with ‘My Mind’s Eye’ (UK no. 4).  By the end of 1966, The Small Faces sever their ties with both Don Arden and Decca Records.

‘From The Beginning’ (1967) (UK no. 17) in June is put together by Decca as a rather early compilation of The Small Faces’ work on that label.  It includes all the singles as well as tracks like ‘(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me’, a song sung by Steve Marriott in an odd, nasal voice, underpinned by Ian McLagan’s reedy organ work.

After splitting from Don Arden, The Small Faces take on a new manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, a character just as swaggering as his predecessor.

Andrew Oldham starts out as a ‘teenage hustler’ trying to score a hit single as singer.  He uses the unlikely pseudonyms Sandy Beach and Chancery Lane.  Failing in this attempt, he switches to being a publicist.  Oldham works for both the fashion designer Mary Quant and Brian Epstein, the manager of The Beatles, Britain’s biggest group of the 1960s.  He learns his lessons well.  In 1963 Oldham becomes the manager of The Rolling Stones, the band that becomes The Beatles’ greatest rivals.  Oldham is the one who engineers The Stones’ outlaw rebel image and even becomes their record producer as well.  He insists on being referred to as Andrew Loog Oldham because it has a ‘more impressive ring.’  He cultivates his own ‘mysterioso reputation.’  In 1966, in partnership with Tony Calder, Andrew Loog Oldham sets up his own record label, Immediate.  It is to this label he signs The Small Faces.

Andrew Loog Oldham does not act as the record producer for The Small Faces.  That task falls to the team of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane.  Ian McLagan is quick to point out that Glynn Johns acts as engineer (a role similar to an assistant to the producer).  Since Johns goes on to become a famed producer in his own right, he is doubtless a valuable resource in the recording studio.

The Small Faces first album at Immediate – the second real album of their career – is, confusingly, given the same title as their first: ‘Small Faces’ (1967) (UK no. 21).  It is released in June, the same month as Decca’s compilation, ‘From The Beginning’.  Both sets include versions of ‘(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me’.  The Immediate disc boasts new material like ‘Green Circles’, ‘Get Yourself Together’ and ‘Show Me The Way’.  Just to add to the chaos, for the U.S. market, Immediate puts together ‘There Are But Four Small Faces’ (1967) (US no. 178), which is basically ‘Small Faces’ (1967) plus The Small Faces songs issued as non-album singles in Britain during the rest of 1967.

The Small Faces issue four singles in the U.K. during 1967.  The first of them is ‘I Can’t Make It’ (UK no. 26) whose brooding bass gives way to a fully-fleshed chorus.  ‘Here Comes The Nice’ (UK no. 12) is a ‘quietly subversive drug anthem.’  ‘The Nice’ of the title is the name of a drug dealer, a fellow who is “Looking so good / He makes me feel like no one else could…He’s always there if I need some speed” (‘speed’ being a street name for amphetamines).

The 1967 single ‘Itchycoo Park’ (UK no. 3, US no. 16, AUS no. 2) is The Small Faces’ best song.  It’s a little packet of psychedelic bliss loosely based on a hymn known to Ronnie Lane.  “Over bridge of sighs / To rest my eyes in shades of green / Under dreaming spires / To Itchycoo Park, that’s where I’ve been,” Steve Marriott informs us before declaring, “It’s all too beautiful.”  The track makes use of a ‘phase shifter’, an electronic effect that makes the song sound like it’s passing through a tunnel or, perhaps more appropriately, a dream.  ‘Itchycoo Park’ is The Small Faces at their most psychedelic.  As such, it captures the zeitgeist of the era and is their most significant achievement.  Ian McLagan may not agree: “’Itchycoo Park’ is one of my least favourite songs of The Small Faces.”  He attributes this distaste mainly to Steve Marriott’s mock-cockney pronunciation of “It’s all too beau-ti-ful” – “It’s all too perky for me,” Mac grumbles.  “What he’s singing about isn’t just about getting high…Ronnie {Lane’s] singing about education, that’s what he was writing about…It was a slam against education.”  Mac’s at least partially correct.  One part of the lyric runs, “We could miss out school (won’t that be cool?) / Why go to learn the words of fools?”  This doesn’t undermine the pleasure of ‘Itchycoo Park’; its multi-faceted nature only enhances its effectiveness.

For all the wonder of ‘Itchycoo Park’, there is a sense that The Small Faces fear they may be dipping too far into whimsy.  That seems to be the motivation for them to redress the balance with the remaining 1967 single, ‘Tin Soldier’ (UK no. 9, US no. 73, AUS no. 3) backed with ‘I Feel Much Better’.  ‘Tin Soldier’ is The Small Faces’ toughest effort of all and sees them adopting a more hard rock stance.  “I am a little tin soldier that wants to jump into your fire,” Steve Marriott advises cryptically.  The ominous keyboards give way to dramatic bluster.  Backed by a clutch of female vocalists, Marriott busts out the howling refrain, “I got to know that I belong to you / I’ll do anything that you want me to do / Sing any song that you want me to / Sing to you.”  The band’s precision stop-and-start arrangement adds to the powerhouse performance.  The flipside, ‘I’ll Feel Much Better’, is lighter, but is highlighted by a superbly burbling bass line from Ronnie Lane.

From 20 to 27 January 1968 the Small Faces tour Australia together with fellow British mod group The Who.  Ian McLagan recalls, “When we went to Australia with The Who, The Who had just come off an American tour.  They were great.  They were live.  They’d never been allowed too much time in the [recording] studio.  Here we were trying to replicate ‘Itchycoo Park’.  It was absolutely useless.  We couldn’t compete with The Who.  I was p***ed off.  We were as good, I thought, in our heyday.  But our heyday was gone – our live heyday.”

The first Small Faces single for 1968 is ‘Lazy Sunday’ (UK no. 2, US no. 114, AUS no. 5) b/w ‘Rollin’ Over’.  “’Lazy Sunday’ came about because Steve Marriott rented a house in Chiswick…He was quite noisy as well,” says Kenny Jones.  “If you listen to the lyrics, it’s all about a noisy neighbour.”  And here’s the proof: “A-wouldn’t it be nice to get on with me neighbours? / But they make it very clear they’ve got no room for ravers / They stop me from groovin’, they bang on me wall / They’re doin’ me crust in, it’s no good at all-ah”  ‘Lazy Sunday’ is a rather broad, psychedelic music hall caricature.  “This is a joke!” is Ian McLagan’s reaction.  “Andrew [Loog Oldham, the band’s manager] put it out as a single.  We were on the road when we found it was a single…That’s the very last thing we needed.  We were trying to get back to our roots…Here we are with a comedy f***in’ record…This was shortly after our ill-fated tour of Australia with The Who.”  The “rooty dooty di” sing-a-long part is, according to Mac, taken from an expression used by Ben Pump, the roadie who handled the on-stage monitor sound for The Who.  Although Mac’s point about the song’s humorous tone making life difficult is understandable, that same mischievous glee makes lines like these endearing: “Here we all are, sittin’ in a rainbow / ‘Gorblimey! Hello Mrs Jones! How’s your Bert’s lumbago?’ (old woman’s voice: ‘Mustn’t grumble’) / I’ll sing you a song with no words and no tune / To sing in the khazi while you suss out the moon.”  [A ‘khazi’ is a lavatory.]  ‘Rollin’ Over’, the B side, has big and brawny beats.

‘Lazy Sunday’ and ‘Rollin’ Over’ are both on The Small Faces’ next album, ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake’ (1968) (UK no. 1, US no. 159), in May.  This is The Small Faces’ best album because, more than any other album of theirs, it functions as a discrete artistic unit in its own right.  The album has a revolutionary round sleeve, created by Mick Swan, which resembles a tobacco tin, an illusion supported by the inner sleeve.  ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake’ divides into two distinct halves.  The first half is a mix of styles.  The opening instrumental track, ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake’, is considered, at least by some, to be reminiscent of the band’s early single ‘I’ve Got Mine’.  ‘Lazy Sunday’ is in this half, as is the heavy rock of ‘Son Of A Baker’.  ‘Afterglow’ is a show of post-coital oceanic splendour.  “My love is in and around you / I bless the day that I found you,” avers Steve Marriott.  Whenever the song seems to be winding down it surges forth again on Ian McLagan’s organ tide.  ‘The second half [of the album] tells the story of Happiness Stan who goes in search of the missing part of the half moon.’  ‘Rollin’ Over’ is included in this half.  This set is described as ‘the most English and most ambitious of concept albums’, a ‘mix of cockney whimsy, spoken word recitations (by actor Stanley Unwin), hard rock, blue-eyed soul and druggy freakbeat sensibilities.’  Drummer Kenny Jones says, “I wish we had been a little bit more grown up at the time.  If we had played ‘Ogden’s’ live it would have boosted our confidence so much.”

Steve Marriot marries Jenny Rylance on 29 May 1968.

Ronnie Lane marries Sue Tacker in 1968.

Ian McLagen marries a dancer named Sandy Serjeant in 1968.

The Small Faces release another single in 1968, ‘The Universal’ (UK no. 16, AUS no. 37).  This is an acoustic, music hall knockabout number complete with clarinet and barking dogs.  “Hello The Universal / ‘Good morning, Steve, well you won’t believe me today’ / Working doesn’t seem to be the perfect thing for me, so I continue to play,” warbles Steve Marriott.  The track goes on to touch on the group’s pharmacological reputation – and could ‘Mick’ be a reference to Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones, Andrew Loog Oldham’s other clients who split from him at the end of 1967?  The lyric runs, “Well, a hippy trippy name-dropper came through my door / He said, ‘I just bumped into Mick.  He told me you know where to score?’ / ‘No, not me, friend / I mind my own and my own minds me.’”  Ian McLagan claims, “Steve cut ‘The Universal’ on his own.  It’s just vocal and guitar.”

In 1969, ‘Afterglow’ from ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake’ is issued as a single under the amended title ‘Afterglow Of Your Love’ (UK no. 36, AUS no. 95).

By this time, trouble swirls about The Small Faces.  ‘The group members are beginning to have doubts about Andrew Loog Oldham and Immediate Records.’  Those doubts prove well-founded as the label goes bankrupt later in the year.  Steve Marriott suggests a line-up change for The Small Faces.  “He wanted to get Peter Frampton to join the band, but we were a four-piece band,” contends Ian McLagan.  “[Steve] didn’t think his guitar playing was good enough.  He wanted to play less guitar and focus on singing,” which the addition of Frampton’s guitar prowess would potentially allow.  Marriott’s self-doubts about his own ability on guitar have been a recurring irritation for the band.  It all seems to come to a head when The Small Faces play a gig at Alexandra Palace.  Marriott invites U.K. blues legend Alexis Korner to the show and asks the guitarist to jam with them onstage at the end of the performance.  The problem is that the last song in the set is ‘Lazy Sunday’, a piece that is ill-suited to a bluesy guitar jam.  “Steve walked off stage and left us with it,” Mac recalls.  “It was a very, very bad night.  It wasn’t the last night, ‘cos we had other gigs to do, but it was [in a way] the end of The Small Faces.”

The Small Faces break up in 1969.  ‘Autumn Stone’ (1969) in November is a posthumous double album retrospective, though the title track is previously unreleased.  It includes a cover version of ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’, the 1964 song by Motown artist Brenda Holloway.  The song, ‘Autumn Stone’, is an acoustic, rural meditation through which a woodland breeze of flute blows.  Its lyric has an elegiac tone: “I’m looking for an open door / Where I can sit and play in peace with you.”

The story of the subsequent lives and times of The Small Faces can be complicated.  In the interest of keeping things as simple as possible, their musical careers will be dealt with before their personal lives are covered.

On 26 April 1969 Steve Marriott forms Humble Pie.  This unites Steve Marriott with Peter Frampton, though Marriott continues to play guitar as well as sing.  Humble Pie adopts a heavier rock approach than The Small Faces, again in accordance with Marriott’s wishes.  Peter Frampton leaves in 1971 for a solo career.  A new guitarist is recruited and Humble Pie soldiers on until July 1975.  Their leader then has a brief run with The Steve Marriott All-Stars.

Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan and Kenny Jones continue to work together.  They replace Steve Marriott by dividing his role between vocalist Rod Stewart and guitarist Ron Wood.  This duo worked together in The Jeff Beck Group (February 1967 to July 1969), though Wood played bass rather than guitar in that aggregation.  The ‘new’ group takes the name The Faces rather than The Small Faces.  Ronnie Lane parts company with them in 1973, forming The Passing Show, then Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance, before cutting some solo albums.  On his own, Lane favours a more country or Romany style.  With a replacement bassist, The Faces carry on.  However, Rod Stewart’s parallel solo career is a distraction and when Ron Wood is invited to join The Rolling Stones, The Faces break up in December 1975.

This paves the way for a reunion of The Small Faces in 1975.  Ronnie Lane is only briefly involved in 1975, giving way in 1976 to new bassist Rick Wills (born 5 December 1947).  Guitarist Jimmy McCulloch (4 June 1953 – 27 September 1979) is added in 1977, bringing the group up to a five piece.  Thus, this latter day Small Faces consists of: Steve Marriott (vocals, guitar), Jimmy McCulloch (guitar), Ian McLagan (keyboards), Rick Wills (bass) and Kenny Jones (drums).  They cut two commercially unsuccessful albums on Atlantic – ‘Playmates’ (1977) and ’78 In The Shade’ (1978) – before disbanding in 1978.

Steve Marriott puts together a new edition of Humble Pie in late 1979 but this proves short-lived, lasting only until July 1981 – though there is a brief revival in 1982-1983.  He then has a group called Packet Of Three from 1984 to 1985 for some low-key pub gigs.

Let’s begin the account of Steve Marriott’s personal life with a recap.  In 1966, he and Sally Foulger became the parents of Lisa Foulger (born 9 June 1966).  The child was adopted out, later married, and became known as Lesley (Marriott) Ashcroft.  On 29 May 1968 Steve Marriott married Sue Rylance.  Now let’s detail the years after the 1969 break up of The Small Faces.  Jenny Rylance leaves Steve Marriott in 1973.  Marriott’s second wife is Pam Stephens, the mother of his son, Toby (born 20 February 1976).  By 1981 Marriott is involved with Canadian-born Terry Elias, who gives him another daughter, Tonya (born 16 February 1984).  Marriott then moves on to Manon Piercey, a childhood friend, with whom he has another daughter, Mollie (born 3 May 1985).  Steve Marriott marries his third wife, Judith (Toni) Poultney, at Epping on 14 July 1989.  So, in summary, Steve Marriott marries three times (Jenny Rylance 29 May 1968 – 1973, Pam Stephens 1976? – 1980?, Toni Poultney 14 July 1989 – 1991) and has four children (Lisa/Lesley, Toby, Tonya and Mollie) by four different mothers (respectively, Sally Foulger, Pam Stephens, Terry Elias and Manon Piercey).  Steve Marriott dies on 20 April 1991 in a house-fire at Arkesden, Essex, England.  The accidental blaze was likely started by a cigarette.  He was 44.

Ronnie Lane married Sue Tacker in 1968.  After The Small Faces split in 1969, the following events occur.  Ronnie Lane leaves Sue in 1972, taking up with his friend Mike McInnerney’s wife, Kate Lambert, a solicitor’s daughter.  Ronne and Kate lead a low-budget gypsy life with Kate’s 6 month old daughter, Alana, joining them.  Ronnie and Kate’s son, Luke (born August 1973), expands the family unit.  Before 1976 Ronnie and Kate had married.  They go on to have a second son.  In 1976 Ronnie Lane suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), though, fearing the worst, he delays getting it officially diagnosed until 1977.  Ronnie Lane and Kate Lambert split up some time in the late 1970s.  By the early 1980s, Ronnie Lane’s companion is Boo Oldfield.  The crippling effects of MS gradually curtail Ronnie Lane’s activities over subsequent years.  On 20 September 1983 Ronnie Lane allows his name to be used to publicise a fund-raising concert for MS victims at London’s Royal Albert Hall.  The performers on the night include Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin), Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts (both of The Rolling Stones), Kenny Jones (of The Small Faces) and Ronnie Lane himself.  A small U.S. tour by many of the same performers for the same purpose follows.  On 9 April 1988 Ronnie Lane marries his caregiver, Susan Gallegos.  This means that Ronnie Lane married three times and had two sons – and a stepdaughter – by his second wife, Kate Lambert.  After living with MS for twenty-one years, Ronnie Lane dies from the disease on 4 June 1997.

Keith Moon, the drummer for The Who, passes away on 7 September 1978.  Kenny Jones is asked to join The Who as Moon’s replacement.  He holds that position from 1978 to 1982.  In the early 1990s Kenny Jones works with vocalist Paul Rodgers (formerly of Free and Bad Company) in a band called The Law.  In 2001 Kenny Jones puts together The Jones Gang with singer Robert Hart and bassist Rick Wills (who was part of The Small Faces 1975 – 1978 line-up).

Kenny Jones has six children: Dylan (born 1972), Jesse (born 1977), Casey (born 1987), Jay (born 1989), Cody (born 1994) and Erin (born 1997).  The mother of the latter four is Jayne Andrews, a Canadian who came to the U.K. in 1980.  Kenny Jones and Jayne Andrews marry in 2001.

Ian McLagan’s marriage to Sandy Serjeant ends in 1972.  He marries Kim Kerrigan, the estranged wife of Keith Moon, one month after Moon’s death in 1978.  McLagan becomes the step-father of Amanda, Kerrigan’s daughter by the late drummer of The Who.  Kim Kerrigan subsequently dies in a traffic accident on 2 August 2006 near their home in Travis County, Texas, U.S.A.  Ian McLagan dies of a stroke on 3 December 2014.

Steve Marriott may have started out in showbiz on stage in the musical ‘Oliver!’, but on the larger stage of life, he is best remembered for his work with Ronnie Lane, Kenny Jones and Ian McLagan in The Small Faces.  “You’ve got to pick a pocket or two,” may be a well-remembered line from ‘Oliver!’, but the attitude of Small Faces fans may be better expressed with another famous quote from the show – this one spoken by Oliver Twist: “Please sir, I want some more.”  The Small Faces had ‘a style of their own, a novel mix of psychedelic whimsy and heavy rock crunch.’  They were ‘one of the most extraordinary and successful band of the mid-1960s.

Sources:

  1. Internet movie database imdb.com as at 3 April 2014
  2. Notable names database – nndb.com – as at 24 February 2014
  3. wikipedia.org as at 24 February 2014, 20 May 2015
  4. artistfacts.com as at 3 April 2014
  5. You Tube – ‘British Invasion – Small Faces’ video documentary (30 June 2013 – incorporating historical interviews with Steve Marriott (1985) and Ronnie Lane (1988))
  6. angelfire.com as at 3 April 2014
  7. ‘The Independent’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘Obituary – Ronnie Lane’ by Chris Welch (6 June 1997) (reproduced on independent.co.uk)
  8. ‘Small Faces – Greatest Hits’ – Anonymous sleeve notes (Castle Communications Australasia Ltd., 1993) p. 3
  9. makingtime.co.uk as at 3 April 2014
  10. answers.com as at 3 April 2014
  11. allmusic.com, ‘Small Faces’ by Bruce Eder as at 17 March 2014
  12. ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 79, 107, 141, 178, 197, 227
  13. ‘Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 105, 120, 156, 358
  14. ‘The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘Soul’ by Peter Guralnick, ‘Britain : The Second Wave’ by Ken Emerson (Plexus Publishing, 1992), p. 265, 422, 427
  15. celebheights.com as at 3 April 2014
  16. ‘The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock’ by Nick Logan, Bob Woffinden (Salamander Books, 1978) p. 77, 107, 112, 135, 174, 212
  17. ‘The History of Rock’ by Mark Paytress (Parragon Books, 2011) p.317
  18. ttexshexes.blogspot.com.au as at 3 April 2014
  19. milesago.com as at 3 April 2014
  20. lyricsfreak.com as at 30 March 2014, 15 September 2014
  21. ‘Friday On My Mind’ by Ed Nimmervoll (Five Mile Press, 2004) p. 79
  22. ‘The Passing Show: The Life and Music of Ronnie Lane’ via amazon.com as at 5 April 2014
  23. ‘Mojo’ magazine – ‘It’s All Too Beautiful’ by Wayne Pernu (September 1997) (reproduced on angelfire.com)
  24. ‘Uncut’ magazine – ‘One For The Road’ by David Cavanagh (July 2010) (reproduced on slim.chance.co.uk)
  25. ‘The Independent’ (U.K. newspaper) – Ronnie Lane information (6 June 1997) (reproduced on independent.co.uk)
  26. musicosis.com.au as at 3 April 2014
  27. ‘Ronnie Lane: The Texas Years’ by Kent H. Benjamin (May 2001) on furious.com/perfect/ronnie lane.html
  28. ‘Hello’ magazine – Kenny Jones information (20 August 2001) (reproduced on hellomagazine.com)
  29. officialchart.com as at 9 April 2014

Song lyrics copyright unavailable

Last revised 20 May 2015

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