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Ian McLagan: Key Man

The Faces, Rolling Stones and New Barbarians player on his favorite instruments

Keith Richards, Ian McLagan, New Barbarians, Madison Square Garden

Keith Richards and Ian McLagan performing with the New Barbarians at Madison Square Garden in New York City on May 7th, 1979.

Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Getty

I don’t know how to work synthesizers,” says Ian McLagan, a longtime member of the Faces who lately has been playing with the Rolling Stones and the New Barbarians. “When everybody started buying synthesizers I didn’t have the money, so l never got into that race. I have an ARP Pro Soloist, and that’s about as technical as I get.”

McLagan usually uses a Hammond B-3 organ with two Leslie speakers, a Steinway piano and “four or five” Wurlitzer organs, including an old flat-top model.

“I’ve had them all for years,” he says. “I brought the B-3 over to the United States on the first Small Faces tour, but I didn’t know that the electricity here was on a different cycle, and I spent the tour a half-tone flat.”


McLagan’s first keyboard was a Cembalet, which he describes as “the cheapest thing you could get that looked like a keyboard.” From there he moved to a Hammond: “When I first heard ‘Green Onions’ [the Booker T hit], I decided it was time to throw the Cembalet out the window. I went into the Hammond shop in London with absolutely no money and said I was interested in a C-100. They let me try one out at home for two weeks, so I moved the dining-room table out of the way and set it up. My dad freaked out, but for the two weeks I stayed in that room with the Hammond, a record player and a copy of the Green Onions album. By the end my dad had gotten used to the organ and I had talked the band into chipping in to buy one.”

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