Small Faces Story Part 5
The next step for the Small Faces was to book into a recording studio and cut a single for imminent release. Don Arden commissioned Ian Samwell to pen a number for the boys' first release. Samwell was already revered in pop circles for writing what is widely seen as the first British rock 'n' roll record, Cliff Richard's Move It back in 1958. Samwell came up with What'Cha Gonna Do About It which suited the Small Faces to a tee due to its cockiness and irreverence. The riff was blatantly lifted from Solomon Burke's Everybody Needs Somebody To Love. The fact that the public had been treated to a recent version of Everybody Needs Somebody by the Rolling Stones on their second album didn't stop the number from crashing into the British charts and peaking at number 14.
The Small Faces had put their dead end jobs behind them and had finally made it. Arden wanted another single out quickly and Steve and Ronnie came up with their own self-penned number, the brilliant and moody I've Got Mine. They even got to play the number in a film they were signed up to appear in called Dateline Diamonds. They also played I've Got Mine in the picture. Things were moving very fast for the band although problems were just around the corner. While the music press raved about I've Got Mine and wrote that the Small Faces had finally arrived, the single inexplicably failed to dent the charts. There was also a problem with Jimmy Winston.
When playing What'Cha Gonna Do About It on the pop show Thank Your Lucky Stars, Jimmy took the shine off Steve's guitar solo by swinging his arms about madly drawing attention to himself. He was trying a takeover bid for the status of band leader which just wasn't on as far as the rest of the band were concerned.
Also being much larger than the rest of the group, he wasn't exactly a "small face" and he was politely asked to leave, much to his reluctance. Apart from being bitter though, Jimmy remained friends with the band. Upon leaving the band, Jimmy formed his own group, Jimmy Winston and his Reflections, and cut a single in June 1966 called Sorry She's Mine c/w It's No What You Do before forming Winston's Fumbs.
Winston's Fumbs recorded what is now regarded as a freakbeat classic Real Crazy Apartment for RCA in 1967 after which Jimmy played the part of General Grant in the 1967 London hippie musical Hair. Jimmy played the keyboards on the track Electric Blues. Nothing has been heard of him since apart from an obscure single released in 1977 called Sun in the Morning.
With Jimmy gone, the Small Faces needed a replacement quickly. They had seen an interview in the monthly magazine Beat Instrumental which featured one Ian "Mac" McLagan. Mac was the keyboards player with Boz and the Boz People (Boz Burrell incidentally went on to form Bad Company). The band liked the look of him and had asked Arden to contact him with a view to replacing Jimmy Winston.
Son of a Scottish father and Irish mother, Mac first started playing the piano at the tender age of seven. His mum bought him an old upright and, with blocks on the pedals to enable him to reach them, he began to tinkle out little tunes. Mac's first band was the Blue Men, a school group with whom he played rhythm guitar, influenced by one of his first idols Chuck Berry at Spring Grove Grammar in Isleworth, Middlesex.
The Blue Men specialised in Lonnie Donnegan skiffle numbers like Rock Island Line. After leaving school, Mac enrolled at Twickenham Art College to study commercial design. While at college, he decided to learn the piano seriously during his spare time. He was taught by an old lady who lived near London Airport, not too far from his home. the pop world almost lost him though.
Mac: "I was going through a mad craze for snooker. I was practising shots down at the local snooker hall when I really should've been going to piano lessons. The novelty of playing the piano wore off after a while and I would've probably packed it in except me mum kept on at me and I'm glad she did or I probably wouldn't have got into showbiz."
Upon leaving college, Mac joined local R 'n' B band the Muleskinners who actually recorded a single for the Fontana label in January 1965 called Back Door Man c/w Need Your Loving. The single flopped and the band broke up soon after. It was after this split that Mac joined Boz and the Boz People who had regular gigs, often backing Kenny Lynch when not working on their own. But after several mishaps with Boz, and in particular with Boz' van which kept breaking down on the way to gigs, Mac decide that he'd had enough. Mac: "I went to Manor House to see my girlfriend and got the last train back to Hounslow on Sunday night. A bloke I knew was on that train in my carriage and he asked me how I was getting on in the Boz People. I told him I'd left and didn't know what I was going to do. he said I should join the Small Faces." By a strange twist of fate, Don Arden's secretary rang him the following day.
In part 6: Mac gets his hair cut
Previously published in Darlings of Wapping Wharf Launderette Issue 3
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