Ian McLagan was most well known for being the dynamic keyboardist for the Small Faces and the Faces. He died at age 69 in December of 2014. He was as acclaimed for his sharp, melodic riffs on the Hammond B-3 and on Wurlitzer electric as he was for embellishing the repertoire of Bonnie Raitt (‘Green Light’ 1982), Bruce Springsteen (‘Human Touch’, ‘Lucky Town', 1992) and touring with Bob Dylan.

His distinctive sound hails back to the 1966 recording of ‘Sha-La-La-La-Lee’, which put the Small Faces on the rock ‘n’ roll map. The band would receive critical acclaim for 1968’s ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake’. Just a year earlier. ‘Itchy Coo Park’ flooded the airwaves. Part of the appeal was that McLagan’s ferocious B-3 beautifully framed scratchy-voiced Steve Marriott.

In 1969, drummer Kenney Jones, bassist Ronnie Lane, of Small Faces fame, with McLagan, collaborated with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood to form the Faces, where they scored hits with ‘Stay With Me’ (1971), ‘Cindy Incidentally’ (1973) and enjoyed Top 10 fame with ‘A Nod is as Good as a Wink…to a Blind Horse’ (1971).

After the band’s demise, ‘Mac’ toured with the Stones, contributing to ‘Miss You’ and ‘Just My Imagination’ (Some Girls’, 1978).

McLagan formed the Bump Band, which performed frequently in Austin, Texas, where he had relocated in 1994. He had married Kim Kerrigan, the ex-wife of Who drummer, Keith Moon, in 1978. Miss Kerrigan died in 2006 due to a car accident.

I had the good fortune of meeting Ian at one of his last gigs in the Chicago area (Fitzgerald’s Nightclub) in October of 2014, where he played a fantastic set with bassist Jon Notarthomas. He was supporting his latest album, ‘United States’, which featured a string of evocative originals. He joked about leaving his keys in the ignition momentarily so that he could run inside the house, before getting lost in composing an original tune for twenty-minutes and then remembering that the motor was still running. It was a relatable story about creativity and it spoke volumes about his enduring spirit.

Remarkably, the Ian I met was the same Ian that wrote ‘All The Rage’. What I mean to say is, that the book really captured his easy-going style of speech, quick sense of humour, integrity and candour.

Ian speaks poignantly about Steve Marriott’s demise: “Though he could be hell to be around, he had a pure heart and I loved him as a brother.” It was 1991 and the singer had fallen asleep with a cigarette sill burning. Ian drinks too much at the pub and sings, much too loudly, a song Marriott had taught him. When 'Woody' (Ron Wood) tells him what happened the next day, Ian asks, “Did anyone laugh?” Woody replies, “I laughed.” Ian inquires, “Did anyone laugh the second time?” Woody replies, “No, nobody.” Ian refers to a night where most band members got severe food poisoning, but “Woody didn’t catch it, whatever it was, and I suspect his system had so much alcohol in it, no bug could survive!”

Ian sprinkles the book with light stories about drinking on the plush tour buses, meeting up with the Replacements, a band heavily influenced by the Faces. He describes the ‘Big One,’ the massive earthquake in 1994 that inspired their exodus from Los Angeles and how the scent of “gunpowder outside in the street in broad daylight” also pushed them in that direction.

He talks frankly and systematically about Don Arden, the manager that ripped he and his band members off financially and about his regretful first marriage. There are delightful road stories that tell of debauchery, close-knit bonding and performances remembered for being either magnificent or hellish. Interestingly, even when he was near broke, he turned down lucrative offers if he didn’t feel a true pull towards the music involved.

Throughout, Ian remains generous in spirit to musicians that helped pave his way and talks about his own heroes, like Booker T. (Jones) with great passion. His loyalty and love for Kim are touching and telling. The book is also a great way to learn about the history of larger-than-life stars: Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Lane, etc., and his take on how success changed or challenged them. That said, remarkably, Ian McLagan, remained a natural, fun-loving man who, seemingly, made peace with his adversaries and played his heart out to the end.








Related Links:

http://www.ianmclagan.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_McLagan


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