Rock and Roll Hall of Fame keyboardist Ian McLagan died Wednesday afternoon in an Austin, Texas hospital following a stroke. He was 69 years old.
McLagan was born in Hounslow, Middlesex, England, which is part of greater London, on May 12th, 1945. In the early ’60s he joined The Muleskinners, who opened for The Rolling Stones and other R&B bands of the day. His next band, The Boz People, featured singer Boz Burrell, who would later become Bad Company‘s bassist.
He was hired by Small Faces manager Don Arden to replace their original keyboardist on the basis of a good write-up in a paper. He was initially paid 30 pounds a week. After his probation period ended, he was paid 20 pounds a week, just like the other members. The band had nine Top 20 hits in Britain between 1965 and ’68, but only one here, “Itchycoo Park,” which reached number-16.
In 1969, McLagan left and the band had virtually broken up after frontman Steve Marriott left to start Humble Pie with Peter Frampton. The band was revived after they started jamming with the Jeff Beck Group‘s Ron Wood, who brought in that band’s singer, Rod Stewart, and formed Faces. Again, they were far more popular in the U.K., where they were beloved for their live hi-jinks. Like Small Faces, they had just one U.S. Top 20, “Stay With Me.”
Rod Stewart launched his solo career concurrently with being in the Faces and McLagan played on his first five solo albums, including the chart-topping hit “Maggie May.” After Faces broke up in 1975, he became a touring member of The Rolling Stones, and recorded with them on “Miss You” and “Just My Imagination” from Some Girls. He also toured with Ron Wood and Keith Richards in The New Barbarians. He went on to tour and/or record with a long list of both classic and modern rock musicians, with particularly long stints coming with Bonnie Raitt and Billy Bragg.
In the mid-’70s, McLagan became involved with Keith Moon‘s estranged wife, Kim. They were married a month after Moon’s death in 1978. They would move to the U.S., first to L.A. and to Austin, Texas. Kim died in a car accident in 2006. During that same period, McLagan also started the Bump Band, which he would lead, with various musicians, for the rest of his life.
McLagan was also involved in a Small Faces reunion and many attempts at Faces reunions, both before and after the 1997 death of their bassist, Ronnie Lane. However, none ever brought all five original members back together. McLagan always said he was game, but often swiped at Rod Stewart for the singer’s failure to follow through on various promises. The closest they came was probably at the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame dual induction of the Faces and Small Faces, but Stewart got sick and was unable to be there. McLagan was quoted this summer as saying there were plans afoot for a reunion in 2015.
McLagan was scheduled to kick off a holiday-themed tour with Nick Lowe Wednesday in Minneapolis. Band members became concerned when he didn’t show up for rehearsals there Tuesday and had friends check his home outside Austin, where they found he’d suffered a massive stroke. He died in the hospital today, surrounded by friends and family.
A conversation between Ronnie Wood and Ian McGlagan from August of 2013.