Ronnie Wood and Kenney Jones: Had Me a Real Good Time
Photo by Tom Wright
“With The Faces, you never know what’s going to happen.”
It’s a theme that comes up again and again in conversation with Ronnie Wood and Kenney Jones, who made up the gloriously ramshackle, R&B-powered pub-rock band between 1969 and 1975 alongside Rod Stewart, Ian McLagan and Ronnie Lane.
Of the band’s four studio albums, only 1971’s A Nod Is as Good as a Wink…to a Blind Horse cracked the Top 20 in the U.S., and that album’s “Stay With Me” was their only charting single. Yet, the reputation that the The Faces made as a live act, and their hard-drinking, full-throttle approach to life both onstage and off, left a strong mark on the punk movement and on such latter-day rockers as The Black Crowes and Guns n’ Roses.
The occasion that has brought Jones and Wood together on this sunny afternoon in a lower Manhattan hotel is the band’s imminent induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which took place a few days later in Cleveland. Rumors of Faces reunions have surfaced repeatedly over the years, and after doing several tours with Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall taking vocal duties and Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols on bass, it seemed like the ceremony would be the opportunity for the surviving band members to finally make it back onto the same stage.
But indeed, the pair’s repeated warnings about the unpredictability of all things Faces-related proved true once again: Though they were palpably excited at the prospect of playing together for the first time since 1993, at the last minute, Stewart came down with the flu and joined Axl Rose as lead-singer-in-absentia at the event.
The Hall of Fame honors line up nicely with the publication of a massive new, limited-edition book of photographs, titled simply Faces, from the ultra-luxury British press Genesis Publications. The volume has hundreds of previously unseen images, capturing the band in full, raucous flight onstage, and in intimate tour moments both silly and contemplative. With tributes from musicians including Paul Westerberg, Slash and Paul Weller, the book reveals the long shadow that the group cast.
The project started a few years ago, when Genesis published a book of Wood’s artwork. According to Nicholas Roylance, who heads the company along with his sister, “a lot of our readers had requested a book on the Faces—we’ve had that feedback for a long time.”
The Faces were the second incarnation of the Small Faces. After Steve Marriott left the group to form Humble Pie, Stewart and Wood cut loose from the Jeff Beck Group and came onboard. Both groups were inducted into the Hall of Fame together, and in addition to all of the other activity, a set of deluxe and remastered editions of the Small Faces catalogue began its rollout in April.
Usually, the drummer is supposed to be the wild one, but on this afternoon, Jones—who later went on to join The Who after Keith Moon’s death in 1980—was the calm half of the team. Wood, whose term in The Rolling Stones began during the final months of The Faces, laughs loudly and bounds about the hotel room, searching for coffee, soda and a missing slide for his guitar. (“I need a ¾ inch copper pipe; otherwise, I can’t go on!”)
The pair reminisces easily about The Faces days and you have to believe that it was a genuine disappointment when the long-delayed reunion didn’t happen.
“When we all meet up, it’s like no time has gone by,” says Wood, “but it’s amazing to see how much time actually has flown by.”
So can you believe that, 40 years later, you’re still talking about The Faces?
Kenney Jones: We made an impression when we came to America in the first place, and I think it’s been a lasting impression.
Ronnie Wood: But it’s kind of a timeless music with The Faces, anyway. We’re all kind of like naughty schoolboys who can’t wait to get back together again. (He says to Jones) Did you see that email from Mac [McLagan] to Rod? “Let’s drop all the bollocks and pay tribute to Steve and Ronnie and just have a ball.”
Jones: But then again, anything can happen—which I’m hoping.
Wood: The element of risk is very funny with us—including the arrangement to a song. It could fall apart immediately, or it might happen, but that’s what we love. We wouldn’t be The Faces if we knew what was going to happen.
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