Formed in 1965, the Small Faces were the quintessential mod band. They existed for a scant four years, but they evolved very quickly during that time, releasing such classics as “Tin Soldier,” “Itchycoo Park” and “Lazy Sunday.” When singer Steve Marriott left the band in 1969, the group recruited Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood from the Jeff Beck Group and renamed themselves the Faces. That incarnation took on a hard rock sound and scored hits with “Stay With Me” and “Ooh La La.”
By the mid-1970s, Rod Stewart left to focus on his solo career and Ronnie Wood left for the Rolling Stones, effectively ending the band. In recent years, the Faces have been touring with Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall. Keyboardist Ian McLagan talks to Rolling Stone about the groups’ joint Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
Tell me your first reaction to the news.
I was not happy that the Small Faces and the Faces were lumped together. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I figure, well… I’ll take it.
At first, you were unhappy?
Well, you know, the Small Faces was such a different band than the Faces. I know three of us are the same, but when you take Steve Marriott out, it’s a very different band. But in the end, I’m knocked out that Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, as well as Kenny Jones and I will be honored. Steve and Ronnie Lane are both overlooked for their multiple talents. The Small Faces are thought to be a one-hit wonder in America because we only had “Itchycoo Park.” Then the Faces just had “Stay with Me.” So both bands could be considered one-hit wonders in America, even though we had several huge hits in England.
I guess they were two pretty different-sounding bands…
Absolutely. People often say to me, who was the best singer: Steve Marriott or Rod Stewart? You can’t compare them. They were both fucking great.
From everything that I’ve heard, Rod is definitely coming and he definitely wants to perform with the band.
Oh, that’s great! Finally. Well, I’ll be happy if he does that.
He even put out a statement saying something like he’s looking forward to the event.
Well, we’ll see how that changes. [Laughs] It would certainly be wonderful. I heard that he actually didn’t show up for his own induction, though.
From what I remember, it was a day or two after the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake. His house was damaged, his kids were freaked out and he didn’t want to leave them. Otherwise, he would have come.
Oh. OK. I was there when that earthquake hit. That’s the exact reason why I left that town.
Why do you think the Small Faces and the Faces failed to hit it big in America?
Well, the Small Faces never toured the States. We had a manager who told us about a tour that he’d set up. It was going to be four months. We’d be in a bus and we’d be on the bottom of the bill. No toilet on the bus and it wasn’t going to be very much money. He said, “Do you want to do it?” We said, “No,” and he said, “Great!” He’d set us up because he didn’t want us to do it. In America, he wouldn’t have had any control over us. There would’ve been agents and managers taking us over, which would have been great. But that never happened. We could have been much bigger had we come.
We toured Australia with the Who in 1968. They had just come off a tour with Herman’s Hermits. They were red-hot and we were straight out of the studio, having just finished recording Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake. We weren’t much of a live band, and the Who were at the top of their game. It killed us. We thought we’d be like that if we had been touring America.
Will Glen Matlock be your bassist if the Faces do wind up reforming at the induction?
Yeah, absolutely. He’s been brilliant. Glen was my first choice, and I’ve always had him in the back of my mind for whenever the Faces got together. He’s been the real glue of the band. It’s been like having Ronnie onstage. He knows how to play those parts.
It’s sort of funny that Glen will be there with the Faces when he refused to come when the Sex Pistols got in.
Well then, that’s two we can make up for – Rod and the Sex Pistols.
Any final thoughts on the induction? You must be happy about this. It’s a pretty big deal here in America.
Yeah, it is. It’s a pretty big deal to me. I’ve lived in this country half of my life now – 33 years, actually. It’s a damn big deal. It’s going to be fun. I tell you, with the Chili Peppers, Guns N’ Roses and the Faces… Look out, there’s going to be some room-wrecking.
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