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Faces’ Ronnie Lane Dead at 51

Twenty-one years after he first found out he had multiple
sclerosis, Small Faces and Faces founder Ronnie Lane succumbed to
the crippling illness in his Trinidad, Colo., home on Wednesday. He
was 51.

Lane’s battle with multiple sclerosis did not go unnoticed in
the rock community, and numerous artists banded together over the
last 15 years to perform benefits for Lane and MS research. Last
year, Paul Weller, Ocean Colour Scene, Primal Scream, and other
alternative rock artists recorded a benefit album of Small Faces
covers, “Long Agos and Worlds Apart.” In February, Noel Gallagher
discussed plans for an EP featuring himself, Weller and Pete
Townshend.

Lane’s most visible support, however, came from 1983’s ARMS
tour, which featured Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, among
others. Rolling Stone dubbed the benefit, which netted $1 million
for Lane’s treatment and for Action Research into Multiple
Sclerosis, “Concert of the Year.”

Despite all the help from his friends, though, Lane’s struggle
with MS was a bitter, lonely one that reduced the once-high-living
rock star to a life confined to a wheelchair, eventually unable to
support his own head. Told by his doctors that there was no help
for his ailment, Lane resigned himself to misery and blamed his
former days of drug and alcohol abuse for his fate.

Lane, born April 1, 1946 in Plaistow, London, began his
musical career as the guitarist and lead singer for the Outcasts,
which also included drummer Kenny Jones, later of the Who. In 1965,
he formed the Small Faces with Steve Marriot, Jones and Jimmy
Winston, who was soon replaced by Ian McLagan. The band cut its
teeth on blues covers, earning a residency at London’s West End
Cavern Club and establishing itself as the Who’s main rival in
London’s mod scene. Marriot and Lane quickly came into their own as
songwriters with “Hey Girl,” “My Mind’s Eye,” “Itchycoo Park,” “Tin
Soldier,” and “Lazy Sunday.”

After Marriot left the Small Faces to form Humble Pie in 1969,
Lane, Jones, and McLagan recruited bassist Ron Wood and vocalist
Rod Stewart — both alums of the Jeff Beck group — and soldiered
on as the Faces. Signed to Warner Bros. Records, the hard-drinking,
high-living and private-jet-flying Faces quickly garnered a loyal
following on both sides of the Atlantic with 1972’s “Stay With Me.”
Lane left the Faces in 1973 and started a traveling rock circus
called the Passing Show. In 1977, he collaborated with Pete
Townshend on the critically acclaimed album “Rough Mix.”

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