Ian McLagan was a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool rock’n’roller. In fact, his smiling visage — he was, after all, a member of the Small Faces and the Faces — would serve as an ideal illustration in the proverbial Dictionary Of What Is Truly Cool.
The man known to his many mates and even more fans and admirers as ‘Mac’ was the sort who shrugged off such puffery. And then he just carried on creating splendid and genuine rock’n’roll with his Bump Band as well as musically aid and abet a marquee line-up of truly blue ribbon talent that he toured and recorded with: The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Taj Mahal, John Hiatt, David Lindley, Paul Westerberg, Billy Bragg and Patty Griffin, to name some but hardly all of the notables that McLagan worked with over his four-plus decade career.
He also etched his distinctive musical talents onto the playlist of rock’n’roll history co-writing such Faces hits as ‘Cindy Incidentally,’ ‘You’re So Rude’ and ‘Three Button Hand Me Down.’ His Wurlitzer electric piano is heard on everything from ‘Stay With Me’ by the Faces to the smash hit, ‘Miss You’ by The Rolling Stones, and Mac’s trademark Hammond B-3 organ is featured on the Small Faces classic, ‘Itchycoo Park’ and Rod Stewart’s ‘Maggie May’ and ‘You Wear It Well.’
McLagan entered the music game in Swinging London in the mid-1960s, and you can read all about it in his vivid and delightful memoir, ‘All The Rage,’ a book that The Express hailed as “One of the best music books in years.” He ascended from the Top of the Pops with Small Faces to the pinnacle of rock with the Faces when Rod Stewart and Ron Wood joined the band. The rollicking Faces ruled 1970s album radio and sales charts as well as the stadiums, arenas and festivals around the world, leaving countless satisfied fans, many wild tales and more than a few quivering hotel managers in their wake. Whether McLagan was singing, writing and playing his own music or as the go-to guy for a session or tour, he was and remains the quintessence of rock’n’roll.
Since he cut his debut solo album, ‘Troublemaker,’ in 1979 — with two Rolling Stones (Keith Richards and Ron Wood) and a Beatle (Ringo Starr) among the players — McLagan has been making music in his own right that carries on the British rock tradition that he helped establish with the Small Faces and Faces on the albums ‘Bump In The Night’ (1980), ‘Best Of British’ (2000) and ‘Rise & Shine!’ (2004). “It’s all raw, up front, in your face, rollicking greasy good-time music done by a master,” says All Music Guide of ‘Rise & Shine!’
In 2006, he released a touching tribute to his old bandmate, ‘Spiritual Boy: An Appreciation Of Ronnie Lane,’ acclaimed by the Dallas Observer as “a warm and fitting salute to one of rock’s sadly unsung master songwriters and a must-have disc.” Spiritual Boy has garnered chart success in Mojo and leaves a trail of glowing reviews in Rolling Stone, No Depression, Uncut, and Goldmine.
When McLagan moved to Austin in 1994, the Bump Band came to include some of the city’s best players: ‘Scrappy’ Jud Newcomb, one of Austin’s busiest and best guitarists (The Resentments, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Beaver Nelson), drummer Don Harvey, whose resume boasts putting the big beat behind Martha Davis, Joe Ely, and Charlie Sexton; and bassist Jon Notarthomas (Aimee Bobruk, Craig Marshall). Those not fortunate to have caught McLagan & the Bump Band on tour or, when home, in their weekly residency at Austin’s Lucky Lounge can enjoy their magic on the CD, ‘Bump Live,’ which All Music Guide hailed as “the first real rock & roll record to be released in 2006.”
Awarded the prestigious Ivor Novello Award in 1996 for his outstanding contributions to British music and inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame in 2004, McLagan was beloved by musicians and music lovers alike. He produced the Faces four CD boxed set, ‘Five Guys Walk Into A Bar...’ for Rhino Records, and received a rare honor on April 6th, 2006, when it was proclaimed Ian ‘Mac’ McLagan Day in Austin Texas. But rather than rest on his laurels, Ian McLagan continued to do what he always did best: rock’n’roll.
In December of 2007 Ian ‘Mac’ McLagan and Glyn Johns, his old pal from Small Faces and Faces days, met at Sphere Studios in London to mix and master Ian McLagan’s beautiful and emotionally raw CD, ‘Never Say Never.’ The self produced and directed album features McLagan’s award winning Bump Band: ‘Scrappy’ Jud Newcomb, Don Harvey and Mark Andes and includes all original songs written by one of the best-loved musicians of our time. Patty Griffin graces ‘Never Say Never’ with her soulful vocals and she and the Tosca Strings can be heard on the final track, the heart wrenching ‘When The Crying Is Over.’ McLagan recorded and produced ‘Never Say Never’ at The Doghouse Studios in Manor, Texas, and recorded ‘Where Angels Hide’ on the Steinway in The Edythe Bates Old Chapel at The International Festival-Institute in Round Top, Texas.
Ian McLagan sadly passed away aged 69 on December 3 2014, surrounded by family and friends in his adopted hometown of Austin, Texas.