Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



One of the best-loved pop bands of 1965-8, all from London's East End: Steve Marriott (b 30 January 1947; d 20 April 1991), guitar and vocals; Ronnie Lane (b 1 April 1946; d 4 June 1997, Trinidad CO), bass and vocals; Kenny Jones (b 16 September 1948) on drums, Ian McLagen (b 12 May 1945; d 3 December 2014, Austin TX) on keyboards. Jones and Lane were in the Outcasts and the Pioneers in the late 1950s; Marriott was a child actor, like Phil Collins playing the Artful Dodger in the Lionel Bart show Oliver!; the first Small Faces lineup included Jimmy Winston on organ, who'd played in the Moments with Marriott, and was replaced by McLagen. Along with the Who, the Small Faces were an archetypal Mod band (the Rolling Stones were Rockers; the Beatles transcended category); indeed some say their Mod credibility was greater than the Who's. Managed by UK music business mogul Don Arden, they were soon in the charts, 'Watcha Gonna Do?' a top 20 in 1965. Marriott and Lane soon made an effective songwriting partnership, scoring top ten hits with 'Hey Girl', 'All Or Nothing' (no. 1) and 'My Mind's Eye'. At the height of 'Swinging London' they were enormously popular with teenage audiences; quickly tiring of being pretty faces, they went psychedelic: their hits of the period are not only still listenable but an accurate picture of the period, 'Itchycoo Park' for its innovative use of electronic phasing, 'Tin Soldier' also ambitious.

The album Small Faces '66 packaged singles for a no. 3 album UK; Ogden's Nut Gone Flake '68 was no. 1, lavish and effective, its circular sleeve a landmark in the period's pop art, tracks linked by linguistic comedian Stanley Unwin. 'Lazy Sunday' '68 was a marriage of hard rock and music hall, a strong contender behind the Beatles and the Kinks as epitomizing the year. Marriott's growing disenchantment was heard on 'The Universal', recorded in his garden on a mono cassette machine; The Autumn Stone '68 was a collection of live tracks and alternate takes; From The Beginning '67 on Decca included early stuff (other discs were on Immediate). Marriott left to form Humble Pie; Lane, Jones and Rod Stewart formed a new group called Faces (see that entry, and Stewart's). 'Itchycoo Park' was a top ten on reissue in 1975; their hits were later covered by the Sex Pistols, the Enid and the Tempest. They re- formed minus Lane for Playmates and 78 In The Shade '77-8, but the magic was gone.

Jones worked with the Who; McLagen made solo albums Troublemaker '79, Bump In The Night '81, and played with Bob Dylan '84; Marriott gigged in London pubs with his Packet of Three. He died in a fire in his 16th-century house near Saffron Walden, which had been used as a set in episodes of Ian McShane's TV series Lovejoy; he had been writing with Peter Frampton, had just flown home from Los Angeles, and fell asleep with a cigarette. Lane enjoyed success with his Slim Chance, recording Anymore For Evermore '74, Slim Chance '75, One For The Road '76 and See Me '79, as well as Rough Mix '77 with Pete Townshend. He was a victim of multiple sclerosis; in 1983 the Stones, Jimmy Page, Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton played benefits on his behalf in USA and UK. You Never Can Tell, live tracks from the BBC with Slim Chance, was released '97 on Millennium Communications.