From a Small Face to a Rolling Stone: Rock and Roll Legend Ian McLagan Passes

Written by

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their outstanding contributions as a member of one groundbreaking band.

And then there are those who get there by having dabbled in a number of note-worthy projects throughout their career.

That is the case of keyboardist Ian McLagan, who, we learned today, has died at the age of 69 in his adopted hometown of Austin, Texas.

McLagan joined the Small Faces in 1965, and continued with the band as they morphed into just Faces in the 70s.

Both of those incarnations of the band were dominated by the presence of their lead singers, Steve Marriott and Rod Stewart, and even the other players (Ron Wood, later of the Rolling Stones; drummer Kenney Jones, later to join The Who; Ronnie Lane, with his collaborations with Pete Townshend) may be more familiar names to the casual fan than McLagan.

Nonetheless, his contributions to the band were essential, fitting in perfectly with the swaggering, good-time vibe of the band. He became a regular contributor on solo projects from his bandmates, including Rod Stewart’s classic early 70s albums like “Every Picture Tells a Story”, and most fruitfully, on Ron Wood’s solo albums.

The Wood collaboration led to a long-standing relationship with the Rolling Stones, often appearing with them on tour and occasionally on record, especially on their 1978 favorite, “Some Girls”.

Further session work included contributions to records & concerts by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt, but also extended to working with newer generations of artists, including punk band the Rich Kids, Paul Westerberg, Frank Black and an extended run as a member of Billy Bragg’s band.

In recent years he had kicked his own solo career in high gear with a number of well-received albums, including this year’s “United States,” released on the beloved indie label, Yep Roc Records.

His 2000 autobiography, “All the Rage”, has been cited as a valuable “warts and all” look at the life and times of a rock and roll musician, seemingly written in the same good-humored spirit as McLagan exuded in person.

He was inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 as both a member of the Small Faces and Faces, but his contributions to the art obviously extended beyond that.

Clearly he loved what he did – playing spirited rock and roll and sharing that pleasure with the audience. We could all do with a little more of that feeling and for that he will be greatly missed.