Small Faces

The Small Faces were an English mod-psych band that placed ten singles on the UK Top 20 between 1965 and 1968, including “All or Nothing,” “Tin Soldier,” “Lazy Sunday,” and the transatlantic pop-psych evergreen “Itchycoo Park.” Despite their relative late arrival on the beat-boom timeline, their quick maturity culminated in the 1968 concept album Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, recognized in the company of similar pioneering works by The Who, The Kinks, and The Pretty Things.

When co-frontman Steve Marriott left for Humble Pie, the remaining Small Faces hired guitarist Ron Wood and singer Rod Stewart, prompting a name-change to Faces.

Members: Steve Marriott (guitar, vocals), Kenney Jones (drums), Ronnie Lane (bass, vocals, 1965-69), Jimmy Winston [James Langwith] (keyboards, 1965), Ian McLagan (keyboards, vocals, 1966-69, 1977-78)

The Small Faces formed in early 1965 when musician Ronnie Lane (1946–1997) entered J60 Music Bar in Manor Park, London, to buy a bass. There, he struck up a conversation with the sales clerk, singer/guitarist Steve Marriot (1947–1991), who he’d seen perform the prior year. After work, Marriot invited Lane to his house, where they listened to soul records and decided to form a band.

Marriot, a former tween actor, cut the 1963 Decca single “Imaginary Love” and gigged during the intervening time in a succession of beat combos (The Frantiks, The Moments, The Checkpoints). It was at a multi-act show with The Moments in late 1964 where he first spotted Lane and drummer Kenney Jones (b. 1948), who were playing in a group called The Outcasts.

The original lineup of their new band was Lane, Jones, Marriot, and his acquaintance Jimmy Winston (1945–2020), who switched from guitar to organ for the spot. They named their band the Small Faces: “small” due to their collective small stature (they were all between 5’5″ and 5’6″); “faces” because a “face” was known as a sharp-dressed person of stature in the mod scene. They rehearsed at the Ruskin Arms pub in Manor Park, owned by Winston’s parents.

After a show at the Cavern Club on Leicester Square, they were taken under the wing of music manager Don Arden, who secured them a deal with Decca. They entered Pye Studios with producer Ian Samwell (formerly of Cliff Richard‘s original backing band The Drifters) and cut his soul-rock composition “Whatcha Gonna Do About It.” That August, it was issued as their debut single (b/w “What’s a Matter Baby”). With its bobbing two-chord structure and Marriot’s exuberant vocals, the song reached #14 on the UK Singles Chart.



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