Ronnie Lane, 1946-1997
Uncut, August 1997
A founding father of the mod movement, Ronnie Lane- who died on June 4 aged 51 after a 20 year battle with multiple sclerosis- was one of the most respected figures in British rock history.
In tandem with Steve Marriott, he co-wrote the bulk of The Small Faces' hits including Itchycoo Park, Lazy Sunday, and their sole chart-topper, All or Nothing. When Marriott left in 1969, the rest of the band teamed up with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood to form The Faces but when Stewart's rising star threatened to eclipse his cohorts, Lane quit for a solo career in 1973.
He scored a Top 10 hit in his own right a year later with How Come, and his touring band, Slim Chance - which also included Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle - became a big live attraction on the college circuit, until their brand of loose-limbed, goodtime rock-n-roll was overshadowed by the advent of punk.
Lane was joined by Pete Townshend for the 1977 album. Rough Mix followed by the 1979 solo work, See Me, but he then went into semi-retirement after being diagnosed with MS. His rock-n-roll chums rallied to raise money for his treatment, most notably with a 1983 benefit at the Royal Albert Hall, which featured Eric Clapton. Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and members of The Rolling Stones,
At Lane's request, some of the money raised went to Action Research for Multiple Sclerosis (ARMS), and a reduced touring version of the concert went on to raise more funds for the charity with a series of gigs across America, occasionally featuring Lane himself.
By this time, Lane's condition had worsened, which moved the remaining members of The Faces to sign over all future royalties to Lane in his fight against the disease. A 1996 Small Faces tribute album, Long Agos And Worlds Apart featuring the likes of Paul Weller, Primal Scream, Gene, Dodgy, The Buzzcocks and Ocean Colour Scene, raised a further £50,000.
Lane's condition deteriorated in the Nineties, to the point where he was confined to a wheelchair and could hardly move or speak. Various treatments including acupuncture, homeopathy - even injections of snakebite venom - proved unsuccessful.
The last years of his life were spent in Colorado with his third wife, Sue, his former nurse whom he married in 1989, and. despite being in excruciating pain, he retained his sense of humour to the end. When visited by an old friend, he joked. "A mosquito bit me this morning - and it died."
[return to Ronnie Lane obituaries]
Last updated: 22 July 1997
© Room for Ravers, 1995-1998