Ian McLagan is dead, and that’s a big loss to rock ‘n roll even if you don’t know his name. That’s kind of the fate of a rock ‘n roll sideman. Ian McLagan was still a very big deal in a lot of legendary bands–starting when the London boy joined a band called the Small Faces back in 1965. The band had a long stint as rough rockers, even if they never broke through in the States as big as the Rolling Stones. [photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty]
Ian got lucky in the ’70s, though–along with the rest of the Small Faces, as leader Steve Marriott left the band and they brought in new guitarist Ronnie Wood and a vocalist named Rod Stewart. The name was changed to Faces, and the band kept going while their ’60s associates began to fall by the wayside. By the time that Stewart went solo, Ian was moving on to be a Rolling Stones sideman.
That long association kept McLagan seeming like a big deal. The Faces and Small Faces had some pre-punk cool, so younger acts liked Frank Black and Paul Westerberg were thrilled to work with the guy. McLagan also went into the studio with the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. He settled down (so to speak) in Austin, Texas and kept busy touring clubs as Ian McLagan & the Bump Band.
Here he is on The Late Show a few years ago. A guy like Ian McLagan was a big deal to Paul Schaffer, of course, but it’s also a nice reminder that Ian was rocking to the end–or at least until this past June, which was the last time we saw him. He looked set to live forever….