Ronnie Lane, 1946-1997

Q, August 1997

Q Web Page

Ronnie Lane, who died in Colorado, June 4, aged 51, after a long struggle with multiple sclerosis, was, like the rest of the Small Faces, born and bred in Stepney, yet his career was marked by a wilful progress towards a strikingly pastoral vision of rock music. His rustic tone was set by 1968's Song of a Baker, one of the high points on the Small Faces' Ogden's Nut Gone Flake and, by the mid-1970s, Lane was living in a caravan and writing such folksome songs as The Poacher (recently revived on the stage by Paul Weller and Ocean Colour Scene). He came as close to the timeless noise that Bob Dylan once termed the Wild Mercury Sound as any British musician has managed.

Prior to that he was Steve Marriott's creative partner, co-writing the lion's share of the Small Faces' canon and then moving on (with Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones) to The Faces, where his talent for lovelorn introspection formed a counterpoint to the band's more bawdy moments. The came Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance, the realisation of his downhome musical vision, and - by the late 1970s - the painful onset of multiple sclerosis.

He has long deserved the kind of anthology that would demonstrate his unique contribution to the development of post-'60s rock. "He was an elf," McLagan once said. "An elf who happened to be born in London."

John Harris

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Last updated: 6 July 1997

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