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The Small Faces Biography


There were two really big Mod groups of the '60s - The Who and The Small Faces.

The beginnings of The Small Faces seem strikingly familiar to Johnny Rotten joining The Sex Pistols. Ronnie Lane went in a shop, in 1964, and came out in a new group, well, virtually. Ronnie went in to buy a bass guitar at a record store Steve Marriott was working in, and the two clicked.

Both were already in groups - Marriott was in The Moments, which already had a record deal with Decca, and Lane was in The Pioneers. Pioneers drummer Kenney Jones was introduced to the young guitarist/singer Marriott, and, after a jam session, Lane and Marriott's groups were history. Marriott recruited organist friend Jimmy Winston, and the original line-up of The Small Faces was complete. With Ronnie on bass and Steve on electric guitar, the two were to share lead vocals, and write most of the songs.

The group were apparently given the name The Small Faces by Marriott's girlfriend of the time, as, Winston apart, they weren't that tall, but had photogenic faces.

The Small Faces made a big impression at their early gigs, and were signed up by Decca in 1965. Their first hit, the fiery 'What'Cha Gonna Do About It', came later that year, but the success also saw friction in the group, and Winston ended up being replaced by Ian McLagan, who seemed to fit in better with The Small Faces image.

The next hit for The Small Faces was the catchy Kenny Lynch composition, 'Sha La La La Lee', which reached number 3 in the UK charts early in 1966. This was a great year for The Small Faces, and, in August, the soaring 'All Or Nothing' became their first UK number one - just after England's World Cup triumph. With The Beatles 'Revolver', and The Stones and The Kinks at their peak, 1966 was a stunning year for British music.

In 1967, The Small Faces signed up with Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate Records, and began to spend longer in the studio, writing the classic psychedelic song 'Itchycoo Park', and, in 1968, they released their much acclaimed album - and one of the most acclaimed long players of the '60s - 'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake'. Their last hit, 'Lazy Sunday' (a UK number two), and from the album, was an inventive combination of music hall, comedy, and psychedelia!

By the end of 1968, however, things had nosedived, and the band broke up, but all four members hardly had to slum it, with Marriott forming Humble Pie, and Lane, Jones, and McLagan joining forces with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood to form The Faces.

The Small Faces were certainly in the top dozen of British rock groups of the '60s, not on the level of The Beatles (who is?), The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and The Who, but just about the next step down, with the likes of The Moody Blues and Pink Floyd. Though, admittedly, the latter were certainly bigger in the '70s. All four of The Small Faces were very accomplished musicians. Steve Marriott, particularly, was a prodigious talent, and is still somewhat underrated. A gifted guitarist, and a singer with a great vocal range, he had a voice, like Stevie Winwood, which belied his tender years. Also, he and Ronnie Lane are too often overlooked as gifted songwriters. A tragedy indeed that these two chirpy characters should die young. But The Small Faces wasn't just a Lane-Marriott show. Ian McLagan was one of the most respected keyboard players in rock, and Kenney Jones was given the job of replacing Keith Moon in The Who. 'nuff said.

- Paul Rance/

THE SMALL FACES CDs available from - in association with
Ogden's Nut Gone Flake Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
~Small Faces
Essential (Audio CD) - April 28, 1997
Ultimate Collection
~Small Faces
Sanctuary TV (Audio CD) - May 26, 2003
The Darlings of Wapping Wharf Laundrette The Darlings of Wapping Wharf Laundrette
~Small Faces
Sequel (Audio CD) - April 19, 1999

"I would like to have seen them become old and fat, then they could have been called The Big Faces." - MARK RADCLIFFE, BBC Radio 2 DJ.

More Small Faces Stuff


Product image for ASIN: 033037673X All the Rage
Author: Ian McLagan
Product image for ASIN: B000BM3K8G Small Faces
Paul Weller, John Hellier - Here Come The Nice Here Come The Nice
Author: Paul Weller, John Hellier
Product image for ASIN: B00006OAHX The Small Faces - The Small Faces EP [2003]
Product image for ASIN: 1860743927 The Small Faces
Author: Uli Twelker, Roland Schmitt
Product image for ASIN: B00009KOYA Small Faces

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