LOS ANGELES — After a six-year association, Rod Stewart is leaving the Faces. The news was revealed at a London press conference called by Stewart on December 18th, at which Stewart announced that he would be forming a new band which would perform with him at a concert in England's Wembley Stadium on June 26th. A scheduled Faces tour of Asia has been canceled.
A spokesperson for Stewart gave guitarist Ron Wood's increasing association with the Rolling Stones as the reason for the decision. Billy Gaff, manager of both Stewart and the Faces, said, "I have been told Ron Wood is 98% certain of joining the Rolling Stones. Of course, Jagger is denying it because they are probably in the middle of negotiations." At the time of Stewart's announcement, Jagger told reporters that no agreement had been reached regarding Wood's becoming a Stone. But a few days later, publicist Paul Wasserman acknowledged that Wood was in Switzerland recording with them. "It is assumed, but there's nothing definite," Wasserman said when asked about Wood signing any contracts.
Rumors of a Faces breakup escalated following Wood's stint last summer as a touring player with the Stones. Wood had repeatedly asserted his willingness to play with both groups indefinitely, but in September complained about Stewart's dominance. "We've always felt that, even with Mercury, when they had him--he was the only thing for them. Warners' is doing the same." But Wood also said that he felt Stewart was resisting the pressure to set himself apart from the band, and Stewart, during the Faces' fall tour, announced that his pleasure with the Faces made it likely that he would continue with them even if Wood left the group. Still, the rumors persisted, fueled by Stewart's growing popularity as a solo artist. Wasserman: "Rod Stewart has been talking about leaving the Faces for three years."
The other Faces – Ian McLagan, piano; Jesse Ed Davis, rhythm guitar; Tetsu Yamauchi, bass; Kenny Jones, drums – made no secret of resenting Stewart's and Wood's solo activities. "I don't think the Faces have been given a chance yet, as far as recording a good album," Jones said during the last tour. "The ones we've made in the past were mostly leftover ideas, from Rod's albums and later from Woody's. You've got to go in with concrete ideas. We've never done that." The fate of the remaining Faces was speculative as Rolling Stone went to press.
Stewart did not announce personnel for his new band, but in August told Rolling Stone's Paul Gambaccini that "all the musicians on my Atlantic Crossing album are ready to play with me." That album featured work by Steve Cropper, Jesse Ed Davis of the Faces, and the Memphis Horns. A Warner Bros. Records publicist said that the Meters might also play on Stewart's next, as yet untitled album, which is being recorded in New Orleans and Los Angeles.
Stewart, Wood and Jagger were unavailable for comment, but Wood had hinted at Stewart's plans in the event of a breakup. "I think he would just get a good session band, a pickup band, and tour with them. That would be his way out. I'm quite sure of that."
This story is from the January 29th, 1976 issue of Rolling Stone.