It was so sad to hear that Ian McLagan passed away on Wednesday, after suffering a stroke.
Ian was most well known as the keyboard player for two of my favourite bands, the Facesand the Small Faces. His distinctive Hammond B3 organ sound was a massive part of the British 60’s sound.
Sadly this leaves Kenney Jones as the only surviving member of the seminal 60’s pop group the Small Faces. Lead singer and guitarist, Steve Marriott, died in a house fire in 1991. Bass player and songwriter, Ronnie Lane, succumbed to Multiple Sclerosis six years later.
Unlike the other members of the Small Faces, Ian came from the west side of London. He was not a founder member of the band, but was recruited when they had issues with their original keyboard man, Jimmy Winston, after their first two singles.
The Small Faces manager, Don Arden enlisted McLagan on a trial period in 1965, at £30 per week. He told him that he would get an equal share, once the trial was over. He did! He then got £20 per week, which is what the others were getting, despite playing gigs almost every night, for which Arden was raking in £1,000 per show.
When Steve Marriott quit the Small Faces in 1969 Ian McLagan stuck with Ronnie Lane and Kenney Jones. They recruited Rod Stewart and Ron Wood from the Jeff Beck Group. They dropped the “Small” part of their name, partly because Stewart and Wood towered over the original members by several inches.
The Faces were even more successful than the Small Faces, especially in America, where the Small Faces never really broke, mainly due to their management concentrating on ripping them off at home.
Ian McLagan was something of a second string song writer in both bands, falling behind Marriott, Lane, Stewart and Wood, who wrote the majority of their hits. But he did have songs included on their albums, as well as having numerous co-writing credits for both bands. There is of course no questioning the contribution of his piano and organ sounds to the success of both the Faces and Small Faces.
After the Faces split in 1975 Mac continued to work with the individual members from time to time, joining Ronnie Wood on the Rolling Stones 1978 album Some Girls and in Ronnie’s side project The New Barbarians.
He released two solo albums in 1979 and 1980 that both received good reviews, but neither sold well.
As well as working with his old mates, Ian became a session player and backup musician, working with such notables as Jackson Browne, Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt, and Bruce Springsteen, amongst many others.
In 1997, McLagan joined Billy Bragg‘s band, The Blokes and toured extensively with him, as well as performing and co-writing songs on his 2002 album England, Half English.
McLagan moved to Austin in Texas and released a third solo album with his Bump Band. This band really kicked him into action, releasing Rise and Shine in 2004 and three albums in 2008 Here Comes Trouble, the concert album Extra Live, and Spiritual Boy, a tribute to his former band mate Ronnie Lane.
His final album United States was released earlier this year. Mac famously said that a retired musician was a corpse.
Ian wrote an autobiography, All the Rage: A Riotous Romp Through Rock & Roll History, in 2000. He added to it and reprinted it in 2013.
Mac married Keith Moon’s ex-wife Kim Kerrigan in 1978. But tragically she died in a car accident in Austin in 2006.
RIP Ian, you are in good company.