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Ian McLagan

Mac, as he’s better known, might not be as well known as the rest of the former SMALL FACES or indeed FACES (STEVE MARRIOTT, RONNIE LANE, Kenney Jones, RONNIE WOOD and ROD STEWART), but to many fans of both bands, he’s just as highly regarded. A songsmith in his own right, his most famous contribution to the former 60s mod outfit was `Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire’ (from 1967’s eponymous LP) and for the latter, `You’re So Rude’ (penned with LANE on 1971’s `A Nod Is…’ set). Ian’s autobiography, All The Rage, covers all aspects of his career up to its publication date in 1998.
Born 12th May 1945, Hounslow, Middlesex, England, Ian’s first forays into the music biz came as keyboard player with The MULESKINNERS, a mid-60s beat combo who released one solitary single for Fontana Records: a take of HOWLIN’ WOLF’s `Back Door Man’.
A short stint with future KING CRIMSON and BAD COMPANY singer Boz Burrell (in Boz & The Boz People) led to Ian superseding Jimmy Winston in SMALL FACES toward the fall of ’65. Changing times led to these mods becoming increasingly psychedelic and by late ‘68 (only months after their classic `Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake’ set topped the UK charts), leader STEVE MARRIOTT formed hard-rock “bugie” outfit, HUMBLE PIE, while the remaining guys, Ronnie, Kenny and Ian formed the enigmatic FACES quintet, alongside RON WOOD and ROD STEWART. When the latter showman extraordinaire was busy with his own solo career, it marked the end of this legendary lad-rock act; by 1975 (up to 1978), all but best buddy RONNIE LANE had resumed their careers in SMALL FACES.
In 1979, it was time for McLAGAN to try his hand at a solo LP; TROUBLEMAKER {*5} was a nice ’n’ easy effort that bubbled under the US Top 100 for a few weeks, its main claim-to fame was the array of guest session men aboard that included KEITH RICHARDS, RON WOOD, and Johnny Lee Schell (all on guitar), STANLEY CLARKE and Paul Stallworth (on bass) plus RINGO STARR and Jim Keltner (on drums). With half a dozen rock-to-reggae-styled McLAGAN tunes on set (`La De Da’ and Carl Levy’s `Truly’ probably representative), critics compared it to a poor man’s MOTT THE HOOPLE.
The equally out-of-time, BUMP IN THE NIGHT (1981) {*6} was just as faceless, as Ian would find better street cred as a seasoned session man; but for an indie US-only EP in 1985 (his backing band in ’85 were Paul Warren on guitar and bass and David Kemper on drums), one would have to buy albums by BONNIE RAITT, The ROLLING STONES, BOB DYLAN, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, JACKSON BROWNE, JOE COCKER, etc., to hear the talents of the once revered ivory tinkler.
Post-millennium, IAN “Mac” McLAGAN & THE BUMP BAND found a niche in the ever-increasing roots revival market, delivering their first of several sets that decade, TURN FACES (2000) {*6} – released as BEST OF BRITISH Stateside; it featured RON WOOD and his mucker BILLY BRAGG whom he performed with in The Blokes.
Although The Bump Band have suffered the odd personnel change (see discography), albums such as RISE & SHINE! (2004) {*6}, EXTRA LIVE (2006) {*6}, his appreciation of RONNIE LANE (who sadly passed away in ’97) SPIRITUAL BOY (2006) {*6} and NEVER SAY NEVER (2008) {*6} have kept world-weary singer-songwriter McLAGAN in higher profile over recent times. Stop press: FACES re-formed in 2010 with McLAGAN, WOOD, Jones, SIMPLY RED’s Mick Hucknall and former SEX PISTOLS bassist Glen Matlock.
Continuing on as if in his twenties rather than nearly approaching the big 7-0, IAN McLAGAN & THE BUMP BAND found themselves LIVE AT THE LUCKY LOUNGE (2013) {*7}; then on the roster of Yep Roc Records. Together with the resolute Scrappy Jud Newcomb (guitars), Jon Notarthomas (bass) and Conrad Choucroun (drums), the croaky Ian scribed some bar-band blues on the touching UNITED STATES (2014) {*6} set. From moody blues ballads to turning the heat down on a rendition of his FACES song, `All I Wanna Do’, the keyboardist sounded as if he was having fun; and with that touching note, Ian met his maker on December 3, 2014, after suffering a stroke at his home in Austin, Texas.
© MC Strong Jun2012-Dec2014

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