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When Steve Marriott left the Small Faces in 1969, the three remaining members brought in guitarist Ron Wood and lead singer Rod Stewart to complete the lineup and changed their name to the Faces, which was only appropriate since the group now only slightly resembled the mod-pop group of the past. Instead, the Faces were a rough, sloppy rock & roll band, able to pound out a rocker like "Had Me a Real Good Time," a blues ballad like "Tell Everyone," or a folk number like "Richmond" all in one album. Stewart, already becoming a star in his own right, let himself go wild with the Faces, tearing through covers and originals with abandon. While his voice didn't have the power of Stewart, bassist Ronnie Lane's songs were equally as impressive and eclectic. Wood's rhythm guitar had a warm, fat tone that was as influential and driving as Keith Richards' style.
Notorious for their hard-partying, boozy tours and ragged concerts, the Faces lived the rock & roll lifestyle to the extreme. When Stewart's solo career became more successful than the Faces, the band slowly became subservient to his personality; after their final studio album, Ooh La La, in 1973, Lane left the band. After a tour in 1974, the band called it quits. Wood joined the Rolling Stones, drummer Kenny Jones eventually became part of the Who, and keyboardist Ian McLagan became a sought-after supporting musician; Stewart became a superstar, although he never matched the simple charm of the Faces.
While they were together, the Faces never sold that many records and were never considered as important as the Stones, yet their music has proven extremely influential over the years. Many punk rockers in the late '70s learned how to play their instruments by listening to Faces records; in the '80s and '90s, guitar rock bands from the Replacements to the Black Crowes took their cue from the Faces as much as the Stones. Their reckless, loose, and joyous spirit stayed alive in much of the best rock & roll of the subsequent decades.
Lane was diganosed with multiple sclerosis in the 1970s but continued to work. He relocated to Austin, Texas in the 1980s and worked until the disease claimed his life in 1997.
MacLagan also relocated to Austin, where he became an integral part of the city's vibrant music scene. In addition to leading his own group, the Bump Band, he collaborated with musicians--well known and obscure--in recording sessions and on the stage. He suffered a stroke on December 2, 2014, and passed away a day later. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
- London, England
- Mar 1969
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