Kenny Jones, Let The Good Time Roll – book review

Kenny Jones - Let The Good Times Roll

In your lifetime you might hope to feature in band that would go on to shake the world to its foundations. If you’re lucky enough to be Kenny Jones then you would go from the East end of London to feature in 3, The Small Faces, The Faces and The Who. Mix in with that rubbing shoulders with Prince Charles at Kenny’s very own polo clubhouse, 2 bouts of beating Cancer and a near fatal car crash. With all that hectic history Kenny has recently released his autobiography entitled Let The Good Times Roll. Matt Mead reviews the book for Louder than War.

Being a personal fan of Paul Weller back in the early 90’s you couldn’t help but pick up on his musical influences that he spoke about fondly across the music weeklies of the time. One of those bands I was introduced to was The Small Faces. Standing a little more than 5ft in height, each of that band had some kind of magic within their bones as they produced some of the most timeless and characteristic music of its time including no.1 hit All or Nothing, the rousing Tin Soldier and era-defining album Odgen’s Nut Gone Flake. Their 60’s output is untouchable, with the songwriting partnership of Marriott/Lane reaching the same songwriting heights as Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards and Townshend. Kenny was also the in-house drummer on many of the hits that came out under Andrew Loog-Oldman’s Immediate label including PP Arnold and Billy Nichols. Kenny tells his memories of those times with great affection and whimsical musings, which are glittered about the book.

The book starts with his upbringing in humble circumstances, fast forwarding to being a pop star at the age of 16 with The Small Faces, to going onto No.1 success and within a relatively short space of time the band splitting because of the antics of Steve Marriott. In-between all of this we have Kenny’s take on The Small Faces managers antics. Don Arden and Andrew Loog Oldham weren’t known for taken any prisoners and this is what Kenny testifies to in the book, explaining in depth Don’s ‘the band are all on drugs meeting with the parents’ meeting plus the signing to the Immediate Record label and the hilarious times the band got up with Keith Moon on tour. Kenny was always seen as the sober one in The Small Faces. Rather than move into a flat in Pimlico with Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane and Ian McClagan at the heights of their powers, Kenny preferred to stay at home with his parents, something the band would rib him for in the years following, but this was all to change when Steve Marriott left The Small Faces to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton (who he tried to invite to be part of The Small Faces), leaving Ronnie Lane, Ian McClagan and Kenny to clutch at straws to try and find a new singer and guitarist. Enter stage left Roderick (Rod) Stewart and Ronnie Wood. We get the deal on Kenny inviting Rod and Ronnie to the Faces, 2 relatively unknown musicians at the time, With Kenny again providing the emphatic backbeat The Faces went onto become the drinking man’s band, drinking and laughing and falling over on stage became the norm for each band member, but again the band went onto record some beautiful, timeless music of the time.

When Rod’s solo career became bigger than his leopard skin backside the band was dissembled and Kenny was again free to explore further musical high’s with The Who! This coincided with the tragic death of founding member and all-round loon Keith Moon. It was left to Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and John Entwhistle to find a fitting replacement. A fitting replacement was Kenny, who was friends with Keith, having played in and around the same circuit for well over a decade, in fact Kenny was actually with Keith a night before he passed away so Kenny was the perfect fit to replace Moon the Loon.

Following Kenny’s drumming days he went onto to open his own celebrated Polo club, which he still runs to this day. Kenny has occasionally drummed in various reincarnations of The Small Faces, including at Steve Marriott’s tribute gig, playing with Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher plus recently playing again with Ronnie, Ian and Mick Hucknall in a Faces reformation, this was before Ian sadly passed away.

So you might say the clean living face has outlived his crazier counterparts and as the book strongly attests to, this is well worth its weight in gold and he will no doubt a further legacy of fans through this gloriously told book with some fantastic pictures and liner notes.

~

You can purchase the book from the Official Small Faces Facebook page. You can also keep up with what Kenny is up to via his personal Twitter account.

All words by Matt Mead. Further articles by Matt can be found via the Louder Than War author archive page.

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  1. Hoping Kenney gets to read this…

    Hi Kenney

    I’ve just finished reading your autobiography and found it absorbing, poignant and very moving.

    The deep affection for your parents and Ronnie Lane touched me profoundly… with all its twists and turns life leaves us with just memories and the bonds we have formed. The castles we build have little meaning in the end, your parents seemed to know this when offered the chance to leave the east end.

    There are parallels with my own journey, albeit in a non famous obscure way. I have stumbled many times, dropped huge clangers more times than I can list and have five wonderful children I am very proud of.

    I hope you find my tale interesting and apologies for what is a long winded ramble. But its a fading history and difficult to describe to those who were not around then. You were there, so was I… rubbing shoulders with some of the same people.

    You are two months older than I am. My birthday is shared with Prince Charles in November 1948.

    Although born in Germany I am English, dad was posted over there with the Royal Artillery after the war where he was part of the forgotten army in Burma. My sister was born in Venice for the same reason and I am the youngest of 4.

    Arriving in the UK as a baby I grew up on the other side of the Thames to you in Lewisham/Blackheath area and also became absorbed by drums in the early 60s.

    After annoying the hell out of everyone by using kitchen knives to tap on anything with some degree of resonance and with a distinct lack of finesse on my part my sister bought me a pair of drumsticks from Len Stiles in Lewisham about 1963/4. Premier Nylon tipped.

    Not being able to afford a kit I regularly made the evening pilgrimage to Stiles to press my nose against the glass. With a bag of chips for comfort I drooled over the premiers, olympics, beverleys, shaftsburys… yes and those weird trixons… all sparkling… and unattainable.

    By the way… my mates and I also used to play in the ruins of bombed houses on Lewisham Hill, but we didnt have any gruesome discovery like you, just lots of reckless fun. Lewisham was targetted because of Elliots Electrical factory, making switches etc for planes (I think).

    My first drum

    Mum and dad used to rent out (illegally) the top floor of our huge house at the top of Lewisham Hill which they paid £4 a week for. The wife of one young couple living up there had a brother, a drummer, in a band called The Rebounds, an unknown band trying to make it. He dropped in one day and generously gave me a huge old fashioned bass drum with a calf skin head.

    I was ecstatic and played on it endlessly with my sticks enjoying the deep rumble it made. I learned to do a press roll on it and was amazed at the thunderous crescendo I could create!

    I never had lessons, and like most kids was cocky enough to think I could learn on my own!

    On Saturdays I washed cars for half a crown per car and saved the money towards drum stuff… a slow process!

    During school holidays I took a casual job in a custard factory down by blackwall tunnel, £5 a week.

    Gradually i had enough to buy something to go with the bass drum, a premier hi hat pedal, two 13inch krut cymbals (£8) and a second hand wooden snare with brass rod tensions (£2). I was not astute enough to buy the obvious item, a bass drum pedal, not realising how important it was at that time.

    So I set it up in the basement with an old record player which I attached a large external speaker to at ear level and played along to whatever records I could grab.

    Kinks, stones, john mayall, jimmy smith, chuck berry, shadows, graham bond, those blues volume compilations… but not often beatles, I found them not drum friendly at that time although later on I grew to appreciate them more.

    Friday night was the hallowed trek up to the Marquee in Wardour St to watch bands such as Gary Farr and the T Bones, Jimmy James and the Vagabonds, Spencer Davies, Alan Bown Set, Long John Baldry, Manfred Mann, Moody Blues. Mostly we followed the T Bones, when Keith Emerson joined them they were amazing. I was fascinated by drummer Brian Walkleys jazzy rocky style and modelled my playing on him. I email him occasionally and he explained he had been working on cruise ships and watching jazz drummers in USA before joining the T Bones.

    We used to go into The Ship along the road to see whoever was around. Chas Chandler trod on my diminuitive mates toe, which he bragged about non stop. I pestered Keith Emersonto play Stormy Monday Blues which he winced about, or Jimmy Smiths The Cat.

    One night an unknown scrawny guy with a sax hanging around his neck stood in for a band that didnt make it… he was ridiculed by the crowd for not playing his sax.. the songs were obscure and it didnt go down well… i was astounded when he found fame, it was David Bowie.

    Soon I could hold a beat reasonably well and joined a local fledgling band, just like you I bought an Olympic kit on HP with the help of dad. A blue streaky pearl.

    The band went through changes, made a horrible racket. I remember the singer guitarist trying to play sha la la la lee and All or Nothing… badly! Trying to be a Steve Marriott lookalike with clapton sideburns.

    It fizzled and I ended up in a functions band. Looking back it was a mistake! Playing covers would get you nowhere! But weekend gigs helped boost my meagre apprentice pay as a compositor in the print. But you got it right, creating originals was the way to go.

    We went on to try going pro, playing club circuits in north east and wales but ended up skint and disbanded. I went back into print.

    Weirdly, in mid 70s I ended up working at a typesetters above the Marquee on nights, the old boys I worked with moaned when bands like Stray shook the building to its core! I used to park in the alley behind and got blocked in by Roy Wood, having to ask him to move to let me out.

    Influenced by the Peddlars drummer and the drummer with the Maynard Ferguson band I bought a new gold Hayman kit (still got it but its been bashed around). Those drums were advertised with a vibrasonic lining… meaning painted inner shells!

    I ended up in another covers band, we did some originals and ended up on a 2 month stint in Bonn, Germany, resident at The American Embassy Club, they loved us, it was amazing, but marriages were breaking up and tho we could have worked around europe we had to come back to sort out the mess.

    I ended up in Monmouth, while there i answered an ad for a drummer… the guy on the phone said meet me in the pub by Clearwell Castle, I will be wearing a green jacket.

    I got there early, lots of hairy types in there playing juke box tunes… but no green jacket

    I was on the point of asking if they were the ones looking for a drummer. Then green jacket arrived, he laughed when I said I was gonna ask this lot if they wanted a drummer. He told me… that is Led Zeppelin, they are recording at the castle!

    This was while Bonzo was alive, I might have got a thick ear!

    In the gloom I then recognised Robert Plant at the bar.

    Anyway, enough anecdotes, I ended up playing in various semi pro bands, bluesy, rocky, some country while in Cornwall.

    I bought a Yamaha kit. Moved to France for awhile, where I was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, they sorted it! Like you I was fortunate it was picked up! France is a nation of hypochondriacs… lucky for me, I got a PSA test automatically without realising it.

    Now Im back here, still working full time but have not drummed properly for a few years. Still got the gear, plus one of those electric kits my children bought me.

    Thats it, hope I havent bored you too much?

    Ps, wasnt Ronnie Lane nicknamed “Plonk”?

    I saw The Who at the Marquee just after My Generation with Moonie, he was unique, totally suited to that band, and a complete misfit musically anywhere else!

    I saw The Who again in Cornwall with you in the 80s, I think the Q Tips with Paul Young were supporting? Not sure. You were fantastic Kenney, you added a different dimension to that band. Their later compositions were much more structured and complex and needed the stable platform you gave. I can still see the Ox standing rigidly there with drink bottles taped to his mic stand… guessing it wasnt lemonade in them!

    I also saw Buddy Rich there in the 80s… incredible drummer, even in his old age. I could not believe what he could do… effortlessly

    Best wishes Kenney

    Thanks for writing the book

    And bless all those we have lost over the years.

    Michael Wadham

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