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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:04 pm
by Adam Blake
The Sandy Denny express has been slow but steady. At the end of my journalism days in the early 90s I tried to interest several publishers in a biography. "No commercial potential", came the reply. "I'd love to do it, but we'd be lucky to sell 500 copies", one said to me, sadly.

Since then there have been two if not three books with another one on the way, a humoungous box set that was way beyond the pocket of nearly all her fans, and of course all the original albums remastered, remixed, remodelled, repackaged with extra sardines etc etc etc.

As for Ronnie, you say he wasted his fortune doing the gypsy circus tour thing. I bet you anything you like that if he was still here and you asked him if he regretted it, he'd twinkle and say no. "After all, it's a short movie folks", is something he liked to say.

(Of course, what AndyM says about Nick Drake is true for Sandy too, although she had established quite a profile for herself on the folk scene she was never within miles of the charts like Ronnie Lane was habitually throughout 1965-73)


PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:26 pm
by Rob Hall
Garth Cartwright wrote:...Rob, the compilation you copied for me draws almost entirely from RL's 4th and last (and weakest) solo album from 1979. Only 2 tunes from his earlier efforts. Which explains why it did not convert me when first heard.

Help me with this one - I'm trying to use the analogy of Lane's solo work being rediscovered being a bit like Nick Drake being discovered after his death. Who else in British music other than Nick has been celebrated many years after their recordings were first released? Vashti Bunyan comes to mind but I'm not too keen on her stuff.

Garth, not that it matters a great deal, but a quick check on Wikipedia tells us that:

" 'See Me' is the fourth and the last studio solo album by Ronnie Lane"

I've never owned a copy of 'See me' and only 4 tunes from 'See Me' are featured among the 19 tunes on 'How Come'.

Wikipedia also confirms that Vashti Bunyan is still with us.


PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:18 pm
by Garth Cartwright
Adam, I'm trying to send u a 2010 feature from Uncut about Ronnie's 74 tour - once read I think you will change your mind. It comes across as a rather sad affair that could only have been run by a rock star a bit off his head and left the musicians who weren't wealthy rather pissed off about the entire experience. I say "trying" as my email is having trouble sending right now. I will get it to u.

Andy, yeah i know its very different re Nick and Ronnie but I'm thinking of "being rediscovered" rather than whatever success they had at the time. Sandy D might be an example tho i grew up thinking she was always pretty celebrated. I never knew Ronnie's solo stuff until u guys discussed it and only have go the Island lps due to the reissues now happening. Seems to be true of a lot of people. So I think its fair to say solo Ronnie is being "rediscovered" - a bit like Gene Clark, sold tons with the Byrds but the solo albums are only known to the cult. That said, I like Ronnie solo much more than Gene Clark.

Rob, yes Vashti still with us - just the point of her being rediscovered decades after making that album. Oddly, the 8 tunes you sent to me by file included 4 from the last album, a dull Sweet Virginia, a nice Stone, OK How Come and pleasant Tell Everyone - i thought u had sent me the entire album tho it seems not!


PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:02 pm
by Adam Blake
Thanks Garth, yes, I've now read the piece you sent me. It seems there was only one musician who left the tour in rancour, some of the others stayed for 18 months and Bruce Rowlands sank a lot of his own money into it. It was a folly, yes of course, but I am inclined to be sympathetic to follies of this kind, hippie sympathiser that I am.

Sandy Denny's career went into eclipse for some years after she died, rather like Jimi Hendrix, in fact(!) The sometimes bloated (and dated) productions that husband Trevor Lucas had saddled her with rather obscured the quality of a lot of her solo work and it took awhile for the songs to be heard properly in demo form or live outings. Ultimately though, it is the voice that cuts through the decades - that and the powerful whiff of tragedy so beloved by music journalists.

FWIW, I wouldn't try to pin Ronnie on any other musicians posthumous career. Let the work stand or fall on its own merits, but it's very much your call.

Thanks again.


PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 6:13 pm
by Quintin
Come to this rather late. I'm sure RL was discussed when the 2006 programme came out during which I mentioned that I happened to see the circus show in a small village a few miles away from me in deepest rural lincolnshire. Back then and its still true, no one ever came here; let alone toured here and the effect on the rather bemused locals of the arrival of a convoy of knackered old trucks and a load of what they called 'bloody hippies' was a joy to behold. The show itself was very sparsely attended sadly-it had had virtually no publicity and must have cost a small fortune to stage. Most of those who did attend (unlike me) were unfamiliar with RL's solo work and expected a sort of Faces-lite show. To be honest I don't remember much about the show-it was nearly oh God 40yrs ago and who was in the band but a year or so back I had a chat with Benny Gallagher after he'd performed in a local village hall (lovely man) and he thought he might played there. He reminded me which I'd forgotten that he and Graham Lyle had played on the first if not the second RL albums. He was clearly very fond of RL and admired him hugely as a song writer.

I still listen to the 3 RL albums that I've owned all these years and they still sound so wonderfully fresh and charming. And I agree, his version of Roll on Babe reduces me to tears: its peerless.. I'm sure Ronnie Lane must be the only person who started off as a Mod and then became a Hippy albeit a few years later than most of us. Ah, happy days....


PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 7:13 pm
by NormanD
Quintin wrote:I'm sure Ronnie Lane must be the only person who started off as a Mod and then became a Hippy albeit a few years later than most of us. Ah, happy days....
Thanks Quintin, really nice memories. Back in the 60s I was friendly with a Welsh guy who made exactly the same transformation - from mod to hippy - largely through the discovery of dope at University. His first Christmas back home was a testing time for him as his hair had grown a lot in three months. But his mother was really pleased with the discovery that curly hair did exist in the family, as previous generations had never gone beyond half an inch in length


PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:14 pm
by Garth Cartwright
Ah Quentin, great to read of your seeing the tent show. There's a big article on that tour in the latest Mojo. It doesn't add a helluva lot of understanding to what has already been published on that particular folly but it has his then wife offering lots of memories, especially on the ill-fated Small Faces reunion. It doesn't sound like Lane and Marriott liked one another very much. I guess both were heavy drinkers and had egos. Oddly, their collaborative album Majik Mijits (from around 1980, I believe) - which I have never seen discussed anywhere - is up on Spotify (under Small Faces) and is not bad at all. Better than RL's last solo album and much of what Marriott did with Humble Pie and solo (did he do anything good solo?).

I've also been in contact with an American who describes himself as "Ronnie Lane's butler" when he was in Texas so when he writes me some info on that long sojourn I will share it here.

PS Quentin, i believe many a Mod took a tab and suddenly lost the suit and grew their hair out. Surely!


PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 8:58 pm
by Kari Salonen
I wanted to add a link to this live set, something tells me you might enjoy it. Rockpalast 1980, with Ian Stewart on piano:

This must have been about the first time I'd read about him, as a teenager. There was a fab rock magazine at that time I subscribed to. The editors were all heavy duty anglophiles and wrote much and often about british music makers of the time.

Once there was an extensive and frank interview with Ronnie Lane wich lifted to the forefront his struggle with the MS disease, I seem to remember this was very much his own decision.


PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:57 pm
by Paul S
Anyone hear Robert Elms BBC London show on Friday (4th April)?
Played four in a row from Ronnie Lane as phone-in requests. Which, I'm pleased to say included "Annie" and "Anymore For Anymore".

It was partly due to his 68th birthday on April 1 and the recent compilation release.
Also, Charlie Hart called in, as did his niece and his brother Stan (who was most tickled with the re-jigged Ogden's artwork featured in Garth's Sunday Times article).
Quite made my day.


PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:36 am
by Garth Cartwright
Yes Paul I did hear the Elms show and it was a pleasure to hear people who knew Ronnie ring in and tell stories and request tunes. Interestingly, no one asked for the tune that Andy loves so much - that first solo album remains deleted which is frustrating. As promised, here is my Sunday Times feature - i cannot reproduce the lovely artwork Paul mentions where the art director, being a fan, redid the Ogdens cover to Celebrate The Genius Of Ronnie Lane - see, murdoch does have some positives - but here you can read what Pete T had to say.


Think about it: Britain is a treasure island of buried music waiting to be rediscovered. Whether the hunt involves gaining recognition for once overlooked troubadours Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan, or the resurrection of fallen folkies Bert Jansch and Sandy Denny, these isles are rich with lost musical gold.

That said, describing Ronnie Lane’s music as “lost” is quixotic as the late East London rocker enjoyed great success. Lane co-founded the Small Faces, who remain amongst the most beloved of British 1960s-era bands, and the Faces, the stadium-filling lads’ band that launched Rod Stewart to superstardom. Yet Lane’s voice and songwriting – unique in its mix of urban and pastoral, gentle yet savvy - has largely been airbrushed from the British popular music story. Lane died largely forgotten in 1997 aged 51 of multiple sclerosis. Unlike Kurt Cobain or Tupac there was no outpouring of grief. Yet close attention to Lane’s recordings, both solo and with bands, reveal a truly remarkable talent.

Ronald Frederick Lane was born in Plaistow, London, in 1946 to a lorry driver father and a mother soon to be stricken by multiple sclerosis. In 1965 he formed the Small Faces with three other fashion and music obsessed teenagers. Lane played bass, sang and co-wrote the band’s material with lead vocalist/guitarist Steve Marriott. The Small Faces’ raucous sound, cheeky Cockney character, flash Mod attire and exceptional songs launched them into the UK charts. Since then everyone from The Sex Pistols through Paul Weller to Blur has hailed the Small Faces while fan sites drool over their every gig and photo shoot. To feed the obsessives there’s Here Comes The Nice: The Immediate Years Boxset 1967-1969, a huge collection of studio and live recordings. For everyone else a succinct Greatest Hits: The Immediate Years 1967-1969 does the trick.

Attempting to comprehend Lane I spoke with his close friend, Pete Townsend (of The Who). “As soon as we met we hit it off. We shared the same taste in music and both lived in Pimlico. He lent me a tape of Dr John's Gris Gris album. I was blown away. Pretty soon the real Small Faces sound kicked off, rooted very much around the sound of Booker T and the MGs. They were never quite as good live as they were in the studio, but they always had fun on stage. By contrast The Who was a dark band, except for Moon's antics. Their studio work was impeccable, carefully approached and creatively pursued.”

A chaotic Who-Small Faces tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1968 bonded Townsend and Lane. “We were very good friends prior to this tour. But the difficulties of this tour cemented my friendship with Ronnie for life. We actually travelled home to Britain together, just the two of us.”

Both men were followers of Indian guru Meher Baba. Together they began recording devotional numbers.

“The Meher Baba connection was a tricky one for both of us. I took the teacher's edict on drug use literally and stopped smoking pot. Ronnie continued. We both, however, liked a drink and we had some amazing times. Ronnie was one of the few people with whom I liked to jam.”

Steve Marriott’s late-1968 departure left the Small Faces adrift. Early in 1969 they invited two refugees from the Jeff Beck Group – Ron Wood and Rod Stewart – on board and became Faces. Where the Small Faces were largely a British phenomenon, the Faces won international stardom.

“At first it (success) made him a little worldly,” recalls Townsend,” but he settled down pretty quickly.”

Initially, Lane stood as the Faces’ main songwriter and de facto band leader – his achievements included a dozen UK hits, a No 1 album (Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake) and much acclaim; Stewart being known simply as a jobbing vocalist Jeff Beck had briefly employed - yet Ronnie soon found himself playing second fiddle to Rod’s rising superstardom.

“Rod Stewart knew he was the heartthrob in the band and really took creative control,” says Townsend. “But I remember Ronnie and the band doing studio demos, instrumentals, and Rod putting vocals on later. So the split was always rather unfair.”

Especially when considering that Lane wrote and sang several recordings by both bands. His warm tenor and exceptional songs – Something I Want To Tell You, Son Of A Baker, Stone, Last Orders Please, Debris and Ooh La La – boast a gentle, descriptive quality quite at odds with the Small Faces and the Faces more raucous material. Yet Lane would leave the Faces at their zenith in June, 1973, exasperated that they were increasingly perceived as Rod Stewart’s backing band.

“Eventually Ronnie took exception to this,” says Townsend. “He felt Rod was becoming too grasping.”

Setting out on a solo career, Lane retreated with his second wife Kate McInnerney to Fishpool Farm in the village of Hyssington, Wales. Here the East End urchin would begin pursuing more pastoral visions. Fronting Slim Chance he recorded Anymore For Anymore, a superb album that gave Lane his sole solo hit singles with How Come and The Poacher. Lane’s music now mixed country and folk flavours with a gentle rock’n’roll that recalled pub sing-alongs rather than stadium anthems. Lyrical, loving and very relaxed, Lane had found his voice, one quite unlike anyone else. His second and third solo albums – 1974’s Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance and 1976’s One For The Road – are now being reissued as Ooh La La: An Island Harvest, a double CD set that adds demos and live recordings. Few bought these albums at the time; today they stand up beautifully, Lane’s elegiac singing and songwriting revealing a very British soulfulness.

“It was his love affair with Katie McInnerney that started this,” notes Townsend. “She lived the true hippy life. When Meher Baba passed away in 1967 we were all of us supposed to go to India together. But, in the end, somehow, Katie and Ronnie ended up going together. And came back a couple. For a while Katie tried to be a rock chick, wore expensive shoes and jewellery. But Katie was the real deal and eventually she and Ronnie moved to Wales and consorted with Gypsies. Ronnie's music reflected that.”

So much so that Lane determined to tour the UK across spring, 1974, with a circus in tow and everyone involved travelling in horse-drawn Romany caravans. Thus Lane, with barkers, fire eaters, lion tamers, unfunny circus clowns, fire engine and band, would ride into towns across Britain, set up a circus tent and entertain in a manner he hoped replicated the travelling people of yore. Engaging as this may sound it was, like many hippie dreams, chaotic and shuddered to a halt after three nights in Newcastle attracted a total of thirty paying punters.

“I looked on sadly,” says Townsend. “But anyone who saw the show in the tent was amazed by it all. Ronnie realised the idea that we once shared with Mick and The Stones to tour in a real circus.”

Lane’s solo recordings are lovely yet often sound world-weary. I wonder if this was brought on by the onset of multiple sclerosis? Townsend, who recorded the Rough Mix album with Lane in 1976, is circumspect.

“I thought his albums were ragged. There were jewels among the stones though, always. And what came over was the sheer joy of making music that was unpretentious and real. He became a folk musician in a way. Not every moment was good (when recording together), but most of it was just wonderful. It (multiple sclerosis) manifested first during the last days of the Rough Mix sessions.”

Lane released what would be his final album, See Me, to general indifference in 1979. After divorcing Katie, Lane fled to Texas in 1984. He happily performed in his wheelchair in Austin bars until a desperate search for a multiple sclerosis cure sent him to Colorado where he would spend his final years. Townsend lost contact with Lane once the latter was resident in the USA.

“I greatly regret we drifted apart, but it happens. He was my best friend for a period of several years. I loved him deeply.”

Townsend expresses gratitude that a new generation are discovering Lane’s magical music. But how, I wondered, did he explain his friend’s many musical faces – Cockney Mod to stadium rocker to Gypsy folkie?

“He was a chameleon. As you will be able to sense from what I'm saying about him.”

Garth Cartwright


PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:08 pm
by NormanD
Did Townshend talk about the album they did together? Was it done as a bit of a fundraiser for a going-broke Lane?

Ta for posting, Garth.


PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:15 pm
by Adam Blake
That's nice, Garth. Thanks for posting. It may be too late (or irrelevant) but Pete Townshend's name is spelled with an extra H.

Also, something I forgot was that Ronnie was royally ripped off by a woman in Texas who was supposed to be setting up some kind of foundation for finding an MS cure. She got away with it too. Perhaps it's best left undisturbed. She is frighteningly litigious (which is how she got away with it). Maybe her karma will catch up with her in this lifetime. Breath is not being held!


PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:27 pm
by Garth Cartwright
Norman, it was an email interview and Pete did not spend much time on their Rough album. Adam, I have communicated with a guy in Texas who worked for Ronnie as "his butler" when he shifted to Houston and he also mentioned that woman exploiting Ronnie. A lawyer, I believe, so easily given to issuing writs. He said Ronnie liked to smoke weed and would say "I'm just an old 60s groover, me". It sounds like he enjoyed playing bars in Austin. No idea why he stopped writing and recording. Maybe he felt he had said all he needed to say.


PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:36 pm
by Paul S
Back in '74 I was employed by GM records to do some record shop promo work on Anymore For Anymore. I had a car full of sleeves and posters and a box or two of albums.
At that time, I didn't get the change in his direction at all as a big Rod/Faces fan - and really didn't pay the music that much attention. The album didn't do much and I can't recall anyone getting terribly excited by it.
I don't know when it did all finally click with me. I play and recommend Ronnie Lane's music to everyone and I still wish I had those boxes of new vinyl. I can't even find my own copy now.

What is the reason that it remains unavailable? There's surely a dollar or two to be made from a re-release.

As an aside, a vinyl copy of Anymore is currently £27 on an Ebay auction and a copy of the Culture supplement with Garth's article is bidding at .99p (It's a collectors item already, Garth)
Follow the link and you'll see the artwork discussed in the thread. ... 3a8e21f9f7


PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:09 pm
by Adam Blake
Paul S wrote:As an aside, a vinyl copy of Anymore is currently £27 on an Ebay auction

Picked one up for £20 about two years ago and thought myself lucky to find it. I remember when they clogged up 2nd hand record shops in droves for 50p and 75p - sometimes a quid. I never looked at it twice then, in my search for cheap Led Zeppelin and suchlike...