To say that Ian McLagan lived a significant chunk of rock ’n’ roll history is like saying Lou Gehrig was on a baseball team that won a lot. McLagan, who passed away at 69 yesterday, was a keyboard legend, a vital and important part in the sound of so many bands.
The Hammond, Wurlitzer and upright meister joined Ronnie Lane, Kenny Jones and Steve Marriott in The Small Faces in 1965, cranking out mod pop staples like “Itchycoo Park” and “Here Comes the Nice.” In 1969, after Marriott’s exit and the addition of Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, the band became The Faces, falling into a raw, looser groove, the true and perfect and rarely achieved combination of rock and roll.
Post-Faces, McLagan became a hired touring and recording hand for The Rolling Stones (dig his electric piano on 1978’s “Miss You”), and went on to work with, well, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Paul Westerberg, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt and Melissa Etheridge, among others.
Since 1977, Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer McLagan led his Bump Band, releasing solo albums and performing regularly. Here he is on a 2009 Late Show appearance rasping out his own lovely “Never Say Never.” To say that his contribution to music made a difference sounds trite, but is very, very true.