Ian 'Mac' McLagan - amazing keyboard player, great writer
and all round nice guy...
Ian McLagan: the man who made two great bands greater
The keyboard player of the Small Faces and the Faces was a man who could bring whatever colour a song needed, and make it soar
Ian McLagan, who has died aged 69, managed that rarest of things: to be in two great rock’n’roll bands. The irony is that two other men did the same thing, in the same bands – Kenney Jones and
Ronnie Lane with the Small Faces and the Faces. McLagan was never the starriest operator in those two bands – in the Small Faces, Steve Marriott, one of the great British R&B singers, was the
focus; in the Faces he had Rod Stewart and Ron Wood strutting in front, and Lane stealing the show with his exquisite songwriting – but he was crucial to the sound of both.
When one thinks of McLagan, one thinks of the Hammond B3 organ, and the richness he added to a series of great records: think of what Afterglow by the Small Faces would have sounded like without
those magnificent swells. Even on relatively minor pieces, like Three Button Hand Me Down, from the Faces’ debut album, First Step, he
elevates a generic boogie into something greater than the sum of its parts with those judiciously chosen organ lines.
McLagan had the same B3 since 1969 – he called it Betsy – describing “her” as a “Ferrari
compared to what comes out of the factories. It’s as loud as fuck. I defy any guitarist to compete.” But his work wasn’t about brute force, which was one reason both the Faces and the Small Faces
were able to play so many styles with such mastery.
With the Small Faces, he could be playful: his line is crucial to the music hall feel of Lazy Sunday; it’s not just about the lyrics. He
could be a colourist: listen to Itchycoo Park and the way the organ adds the shade to what might be a fairly workaday song without it. He
could be soulful, tipping the soul into something more powerful, as on Tin Soldier. And he could be trippy when the song required it, as on
Maybe, though, it was with the Faces that he got the greatest chance to shine – it’s not that his role was more integral, more that he got the single best moment on any Faces song, 30 seconds or
so into Stay With Me, when that pellmell opening riff falls away, and McLagan comes in with that tumbledown descending honky tonk line. Ron Wood joins in on guitar, and somehow a song coalesces,
seemingly out of boozy chaos: it’s wonderful. The rest of the song ain’t bad, either.
But the Faces did subtle, too, especially when Ronnie Lane was writing. Perhaps their best song, Debris – “I left you on the debris of the
Sunday morning market,” is one of rock’s most evocative opening lines – is a fabulous group performance, and McLagan’s beautiful, lyrical, autumnal playing is a substantial part of that
When the Faces folded, McLagan played with scores of greats – the Stones and Bob Dylan among them – and it wasn’t just because he was a laugh: he was one of the greats. In the late 90s he joined
Billy Bragg’s band, and could be seen playing for audiences who maybe didn’t always recognise who the older bloke behind the organ was. And that also led to McLagan reviving a solo career that had
spluttered briefly in the the late 70s and early 80s, with several new records emerging as the new century began. He’d relocated to Austin, Texas, which seemed fitting for someone whose best music,
no matter how English, had an American soul behind it.
This year’s album United States saw him playing piano and that marvellous, marvellous organ, and singing about relationships, in a voice
that, while hardly Stevie’s or Rod’s, was characterful and human, full of warmth and hard earned wisdom. It sounded like the voice of a man you’d want to know.
Ian McLagan, Faces keyboardist, dies aged 69
The Hounslow-born musician was about to embark on a North American tour, supporting label mate Nick Lowe, at the time of his death in his adopted home town of Austin, Texas.
"I am completely devastated by this shocking news and I know this goes for Ronnie and Rod as well," said Small Faces and Faces member Kenney Jones.
Stewart added: "I'm absolutely devastated. Ian McLagan embodied the true spirit of the Faces.
"Last night I was at a charity do, Mick Hucknall was singing I'd Rather Go Blind, and Ron Wood texted to say Ian had passed. It was as if his spirit was in the room. I'll miss you mate."
McLagan's manager, Ken Kushnick, remembered him as "a beloved friend to so many people and a true rock 'n' roll spirit".
As a member of Small Faces, McLagan was known for his dexterity on the Hammond Organ and Wurlitzer electric piano.
With the Faces in the 1970s, he had hits in both the UK and US with such songs as Stay With Me and Cindy Incidentally.
When Stewart departed to go solo and Wood left to join the Stones, the group continued as the Small Faces, before disbanding in 1978.
The Faces reformed at the end of the 2000s, with Mick Hucknall filling in for Stewart, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.
According to the announcement on his website, McLagan had a stroke on Tuesday and died the following day "surrounded by family and friends".
Singer Billy Bragg tweeted that "British rock has lost one of its greatest players", while Hucknall paid his own tribute on
the Simply Red twitter feed.
"Ian McLagan will not be resting in peace," the band's message read. "He'll be rocking whichever house he chose [sic] to be
in. Bless his soul."
Ian McLagan, keyboard player for the Small Faces and the Faces, has died aged 69, due to complications from a stroke suffered earlier this week.
"It is with great sadness and eternal admiration that we report the passing of [a] rock and roll icon," read a statement on his official
McLagan, known as Mac, played on such memorable Small Faces tracks as Lazy Sunday and Itchycoo Park in the 1960s.
The band became the Faces when Rod Stewart and Ron Wood joined in 1969.
McLagan went on to record and perform with the Rolling Stones and also worked with Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
Keyboardist for The Rolling Stones, The Faces brings his own music to Lexington
By Walter Tunis
Contributing Music CriticOctober 25, 2014
The name he attaches to an extensive list of rock 'n' roll credentials, from founding membership in The Small Faces and The Faces to extensive work with The Rolling Stones to a reputation as one
of the most jubilant keyboardists in the business, is Ian McLagan.
But to fans, contemporaries, protégés — everyone, really — he forever goes by a simple, endearing nickname: Mac. That's the name the native Brit and transplanted Texan has happily answered to in a
career that stretches back half a century.
"I'm the luckiest guy I know because I love what I do, and I can still do it," said McLagan, 69. "People still come out just to hear the music, too. That's a blessing, you know? What else am I
going to do but play the piano and sing?"
McLagan's performances Monday for the WoodSongs Old-Time Hour and Tuesday at Parlay Social will be his first Lexington performances promoting his own music.
He will accompanied both evenings by bassist Jon Notarthomas, a member of the keyboardist's long running Bump Band, now based in Austin. But the keyboardist has played twice at Rupp Arena with two
acts that have helped define his career —The Rolling Stones in December 1981 and Rod Stewart in October 1993.
The 1981 performance was particularly telling as it paired McLagan with longtime Stones mentor and pianist Ian Stewart. The two shared similar tastes and inspirations. Stewart was a devotee of
roots-driven piano music and boogie woogie. McLagan was fascinated by Muddy Waters blues records that featured pianist Otis Spann.
"Stu was a wonderful man," McLagan said. "He had no ego at all. He wasn't a showboater. I learned a lot from Stu just from watching him and listening to him.
"He would say to me sometimes, 'I don't understand what you're doing. Your playing — it sounds right, but you do it strange.' I said it was because I had no training. I had to fumble and figure it
out for myself. Some things I do wrong, but I've got to get to the notes."
The Stones figured heavily in McLagan's performance education, as well — that, along with more informal serenading from within his family.
"It's funny, my grandmother played the concertina. She was a fantastic player. She wasn't a professional. She just happened to be brilliant. I think if there is any music to hit me from anywhere,
that's where it came from.
"But when I first started out, you just wanted to be inside of the music you heard. So when I saw the Stones play a little club in the west of London, I thought, 'OK, it's possible.' That
encouraged a lot of young musicians in London to hear the Stones live, because they were a blues cover band back then. We thought, 'Yeah, we love that music. Why can't we do that?'"
The Rod Stewart performance came on the heels of the singer's 1993's Unplugged... and Seated album. But his connection with McLagan goes back to the boozy rock and soul records the two
cut with guitarist Ron Wood, bassist Ronnie Lane and drummer Kenney Jones in the early '70s as The Faces (the band began in 1965 as the more pop-directed Small Faces with McLagan, Lane, Jones and
soon-to-be Humble Pie chieftain Steve Marriott).
"Rod's voice was just a delight to play under. But I worked as hard as I ever did with The Faces. My fingers would be battered, my nails would be broken. I would get these big blisters. The music
brought a lot out of me. It was pretty physical.
"We're talking about getting together again next year. Rod is real interested. Ronnie (Wood), Kenney and I are interested. It's looking real positive (Ronnie Lane died from multiple sclerosis in
"It's ridiculous to think that 50-some years on I'm still doing this. I mean, I've never had a job. I've never had to go to work. I always had to go to fun."
If you go
Ian McLagan and Jon Notarthomas
■ 6:45 p.m. Oct. 27. Lyric Theatre, 300 E. Third Street, for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour with Janiva Magness. $20. (859) 252-8888. Woodsongs.com.
■ 8 p.m. Oct. 28. Parlay Social, 249 W. Short. $15, $20. Willie Eames opens. (859) 244-1932. parlaysocial.com.
The best rock picks, October 10
On the beat blog. David Mencon.10/10/2014
Rock ’n’ roll has its great musicians and its great raconteurs, which are two separate categories – except for Ian McLagan, member of multiple musical halls of fame and also one of the rock era’s
most fantastic characters and tale-tellers. Though he’s best-known for his time alongside Rod Stewart in Small Faces way back when, McLagan remains a peerless bar-band keyboardist and songsmith,
leading the Texas-based Bump Band. And even as he’s pushing 70, McLaghan is still cranking out solid new albums, including this year’s “United States” (Yep Roc Records). He’ll be showing off songs
old and new Sunday at Kings in Raleigh. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $16-$20. See kingsbarcade.com for details
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Ian McLagan takes Savannah stage
Savannah Morning news. By Shawndra
It’s not every day that a rock legend rolls through Savannah, but music star Ian “Mac” McLagan will grace the stage at The Wormhole on Oct. 11.
McLagan has collaborated with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Bruce Springsteen and more, and he now rocks with his quartet, the Bump Band.
We chatted with 69-year-old McLagan about his first visit to Savannah and his new album, “United States,” which was just released this summer.
Can you share one of your most memorable moments on the road in your years of performing?
McLagan: There have been so many. How about backing Howlin’ Wolf and Hubert Sumlin in 1964? The moment he met us — we were The Muleskinners — he put his large arms around us and said, “My
That and many other stories are in my book, “All The Rage.”
What are you looking forward to about Savannah?
McLagan: I’ve never been to Savannah, and I’m looking forward to seeing this beautiful city, with all the architecture and the trees, bushes and flowers.
Can you share the significance of the album’s title?
McLagan: It’s literal. The album is about relationships, which could be called united states.
What’s in store for you?
McLagan: For Kenney Jones and I, as the only surviving members of Small Faces, 2015 is special, as it’ll be our 50th anniversary. So we’re putting together a show in London to celebrate
And there are Faces touring plans for 2015 with Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Kenney Jones and myself. It’s going to be a great year
IF YOU GO
What: Ian McLagan
When: Oct. 11; doors open at 7 p.m.; show starts at 9 p.m.
Where: The Wormhole, 2307 Bull St.
Cost: $10 early bird rate, $20 general admission and $50 front-row VIP
Have a look, a laugh and a listen to what Mac is upto these days here:
Read this great article about Mac's new album
- Ian McLagan
Ian McLagan cast doubt last year on the prospect of a Faces reunion in 2014, and now there’s a reason why: The singer, songwriter and keyboardist is readying the
release of “United States,” his first solo album in nearly six years. McLagan today premieres the first song, “All I Wanna Do,” on Speakeasy.
The slow-burning tune rides a deep organ groove as McLagan gives voice to infatuation in a soulful, slightly weathered voice. Eat your heart out, Rod Stewart.
“We had been playing most of the tracks live for some time to knock them into shape, and audiences responded really well to ‘All I Wanna Do,’” McLagan said. “So it was the first song we cut for
McLagan, 68, is a rock ’n’ roll veteran. He joined the Small Faces in 1965, and stayed on when the band became the Faces in 1969, when Stewart and Ronnie Wood joined following the
departure of Steve Marriott. After the Faces called it quits in the ’70s, McLagan collaborated with the Rolling Stones, and he’s since led his own band while collaborating with the
likes of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Paul Westerberg. McLagan was inducted into
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. His most recent previous album, “Never Say Never,” came out in 2008.
The singer recorded the 10-track “United States” in Manor, Texas, with his longtime collaborators in the Bump Band. The album is due June 17 on Yep Roc.
Ian William Patrick "Mac" McLagan (/ /; born 12 May 1945, West Middlesex Hospital, Isleworth, Middlesex) is an English keyboard instrumentalist, best known as a member of the English rock bands Small Faces and Faces. He has also collaborated with The Rolling Stones and has been leading his own band since the late 1970s.
Small Faces and Faces
McLagan first started playing in bands in the early 1960s, initially using the Hohner Pianet before switching to the Hammond Organ, as well as occasional guitar. He was influenced by Cyril Davies' All Stars, and his first professional group was the Muleskinners, followed by the Boz
People with future King Crimson and Bad Company member Boz Burrell. He joined the Small Faces in
November 1965, replacing Jimmy Winston, and played his debut with
them at London's Lyceum Theatre on 2 November that year. In 1969, after Steve
Marriott left the group and Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood joined, the band changed its name to Faces.
Work with other musicians
After the Faces split up in 1975, McLagan worked as a sideman for The Rolling
Stones, both in the studio, on tour and on various Ronnie
Wood projects, including The New
Barbarians. In addition, his session work has
backed such artists as Chuck Berry, Jackson Browne, Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan,
Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Westerberg, Izzy
Stradlin, Frank Black, Nikki Sudden, John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen and Tony
Scalzo. McLagan has been a member of Billy Bragg's band
McLagan plays piano on the studio side of the album The London Chuck Berry Sessions.
On 25 September 2010, at Stubbs in Austin, Texas, McLagan joined The Black Crowes on keyboards and vocals for their encore set. The set included two Faces songs,
"You're So Rude" and "Glad and Sorry".
Also in 2013, he appeared with the "Warren Haynes Band" at the Moody Theater in Austin Texas playing piano on one number and organ on the
Although McLagan has played with a number of famous musical acts over the years, there is at least one major group that he declined to play with. During a
2004 interview on the Fresh Air radio program McLagan was asked about being offered a job with the Grateful Dead.
"You declined a chance to play with the Grateful Dead. Why was that?"
"Well I didn't actually decline the chance... it was a chance; I wasn't given the gig. A friend of mine who was a friend of Jerry Garcia's said they're looking; their current keyboard player has died and they're looking
for someone else. He said they want you to play to a tape and submit it, you know. He said, 'You could make a quarter million dollars a year, you could live anywhere you want, blah, blah, blah'. I
was actually on vacation at the time in San Diego with my wife and our dogs and I went out and bought a Grateful Dead CD and my wife went out to do some shopping and came back to the hotel room and I
was sitting in a blue funk in a brown study in a green swarm of hell and she said, 'What's the matter?' and I said, I can't play this music – it sucks! I mean, just my personal taste, I couldn't…
didn't understand it, didn't get it, still don't really. I mean I know they make a lot of money, they've got of fans. I'm sorry if I've upset anyone but…"
"It wasn't your cup of tea?"
"Wasn't my cup of tea, no more than Phish all that jam-band… so tediously boring. I like a tune, and a singer, and a solo, and now, more of the tune. I just couldn't even do it."
McLagan has also released several solo albums. An in-demand player, he has filled the role of bandleader with his own Bump Band since 1977. He currently lives in Austin and does gig nights at local clubs and bars. Ian McLagan & The Bump Band played at the 2006 Austin City Limits Music Festival, and opened for The Rolling Stones in
Austin, Texas in 2006.
McLagan developed a relationship with Kim Kerrigan, the young estranged wife of Keith Moon, drummer of The Who. She divorced Moon
and lived with McLagan, and her daughter Amanda (from her marriage to Moon). The two married in 1978, one month after Moon died at the age of 32. Kerrigan died in a traffic accident near their home
in Austin, Texas on 2 August 2006. She was 57.
MacLagan is a devoted dog owner, and is particularly fond of greyhounds. In an interview with Creem
magazine, McLagan commented, "I used to be the part-owner of a racing greyhound...poor thing. He came in last in every race, and one the one time he came in fifth was because one dog dropped dead on
the tracks." -Creem magazine, July 1975
He published an autobiography, "All the Rage: A Riotous Romp Through Rock & Roll History" in 2000.