Ronnie Lane 1946-1997
New Musical Express, 14 June 1997
RONNIE LANE bassist and founder member of The Small Faces, has died aged 51 of multiple sclerosis at his home in Trinidad, Colorado. He had been debilitated by the nerve destroying disease since the late-'70s.
Lane, along with The Small Faces' Steve Marriott (who died in a fire at his house in 1991), keyboardist Ian McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones, was responsible for some of the most enduring British pop hits from the '60s, including All Or Nothing, ltchycoo Park, Lazy Sunday, Tin Soldier and the proto-concept album Ogden's Nut Gone Flake.
Lane was born in Plaistow, east London, on April 1, 1946. His father was a lorry driver. In later years, his mother was also to suffer from MS.
At 16 he left school and began working as a plumber's mate then, aged 17, he bought his first guitar and began playing in a band called The Outcasts with drummer Kenney Jones. Lane invited Steve Marriott, the shop assistant who sold him his guitar, to an early Outcasts gig. Marriott turned up at the pub, promptly wrecked the piano and got the band barred. He joined as singer and guitarist soon after.
Rechristened The Small Faces by Marriott's girlfriend - all four members struggled to hit 5ft 5ins - the band's first gig was at the Cavern in Leicester Square. Its success led to a five-week residency at the club. Within months, the band were rivalling west Londoners The Who.
Their first single, What'Cha Gonna Do About It, released in 1965, features the first example of feedback on record. A series of Top Ten singles followed culminating in their only Number One single, All Or Nothing in 1966. Ogden's Nut Gone Flake, regarded as one of the first concept albums, and which took a year to make, reached Number One In 1965. Following Marriott's departure in 1969 to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton, Lane (who had earned the nickname 'Plonk' from the band), McLagan and Jones welcomed two younger London musicians to their fold - singer Rod Stewart and guitarist Ronnie Wood - and struck out as The Faces, the purveyors of rhythm 'n' booze who became revered for their shambolic concerts and geezer-down the local pub image. In fact, so raucous were the band that they were banned from the entire Holiday Inn hotel chain.
The Faces called it a day in 1975 due to Stewart's burgeoning solo career and Wood's absorption into The Rolling Stones; Lane went solo and charted with a couple of singles and the LP Anymore for Anymore; however, the highlight of this period is Rough Mix, the album he recorded with The Who's Pete Townshend.
In 1979, Lane was diagnosed with MS. He moved to Austin, Texas, in an attempt to rekindle his musical career but became too ill. When he heard of Marriott's death he was reputed to have said, "I'm jealous."
Payouts from outstanding royalties plus benefit gigs and albums including tribute album Long Agos And Worlds Apart, featuring Primal Scream, Gene, Dodgy and Kula Shaker - helped to pay for Lane's escalating medical bills.
Lane was married three times and had two sons by his second wife. At the time of his death, he was being cared for by his third wife, a trained nurse.
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