Ian McLagan: All The Rage
Out of print
Ian McLagan’s autobiography gives the lowdown on a great career in rock and roll. Craig Chaligne reviews.
After the recent gig at The Half Moon that you can read about on Louder Than War, I had the opportunity to meet Mac as he likes to be called. Living up to his reputation, he was very approachable and more than happy to sign anything the audience brought to him (unfortunately no female body parts that night much to his annoyance I’m sure…). I had seen good reviews of his autobiography on the web but it looked like it was out of print. Luckily I waited a little as I got one of his CD’s plus the book (both of them signed) for the same price as a second hand version of the book on Amazon !!!
And a bloody good read it turned out to be. Most of Mr Mclagan’s contemporaries should turn to him when editing their memoirs. There wasn’t one page in the entire book that wasn’t interesting. The book starts with a small anecdote about a long lost Hammond organ that Mac recovered after losing it in the aftermath of The Faces splitting up. He then goes on to describe his childhood and his beginnings in the music business. Mac wasn’t exactly the academic type and dropped out of his studies at 16 to concentrate on being a professional musician. After learning the ropes in a few bands, he finally got his big break when he was asked to join The Small Faces.
That’s when the roller-coaster ride starts and it doesn’t stop till the middle of the eighties. He doesn’t go into much details about the recordings of all the great LPs he did with The Faces and The Small Faces but Mac gives us a real feel of what it was to be a musician at such an exciting time. He doesn’t hold back when about his shortcomings (the failure of his first marriage) but doesn’t bear any grudges towards people that let him down (managers and lead singers are all absolved for their shortcomings in the book). The book also describes his relationship with Kim Moon (eventually to become the second Mrs Mclagan) and the difficulty Keith Moon had to let go of his former wife (there’s a bit about a phone call that could come straight from a scene in The Godfather). Ronnie Lane, Mac’s former band mate in the Small Faces and The Faces is a constant presence throughout the book and despite a falling out when Lane left The Faces, they rekindled their friendship in the eighties and remained close friends till Lane’s death from complications due to sultiple sclerosis in 1997.
There is some really interesting bits about his days as sideman with The Stones and Bob Dylan. Surprisingly Bob Dylan comes out better than Mick Jagger !!! After a slight slump in the eighties (a common thing with 60-70s musicians), McLagan’s stock went up again in the nineties where he toured with his old band mates from The Faces : Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood and became a member of Billy Bragg‘s backing band (and almost toured with Lenny Kravitz !!!!). The Book stops in 2000 so there’s no insight on the multiple failed Faces reunions with Rod Stewart but maybe Ian is saving an updated edition for when the reunion finally happens.
All words by Craig Chaligne. More of Craig’s work for Louder Than War can be found in his author’s archive.