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The Story of the Faces’ Quick Demise


The Faces ended their short life in December of 1975. Sprouted from the ashes of the Small Faces after Steve Marriott left the group to form Humble Pie, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones recruited Ron Wood and Rod Stewart (both recently exited from the Jeff Beck Group) to comprise a true powerhouse rock and roll band.

The Faces issued four top-notch LPs from 1970 to 1973, all the while riding tandem with the ever-growing monster of vocalist extraordinaire Rod Stewart’s solo career. That solo success really took off with his third album, 1971’s Every Picture Tells a Story and the smash hit “Maggie May.” For a couple years, Rod and the band were able to keep both trains running smoothly, but inevitably, the wheels started coming off the tracks.

“We were young and foolish and nobody bothered with the details because we were all rich beyond our dreams,” Stewart wrote in Rod: The Autobiography. “No one was giving a thought to the fact that it could all go tits up at some stage. And lo and behold, it all went tits up. The problems were political and slow burning, and mostly arose as a result of the success I was having with my own records, which created all sorts of complicated tensions and anxieties. At first, the balance between my life as a solo artist and my life in the Faces seemed blissfully simple. There didn’t seem to be any conflict between these interests. On the contrary, they rubbed along together perfectly happily.”

The cracks began to really show as founder Ronnie Lane left the band in 1973. “Nobody thought he was serious at first,” Stewart said. “‘I’m leaving the band’ was a group catchphrase: the stock Faces response to any disappointment or setback.” But leave he did, and as the band dealt with that blow, another soon reared its head. “In fact, the thing that triggered my exit was the long-expected decision of Woody to take a job with the Rolling Stones – the band, let’s face it, that he was born to be in,” Stewart added. “That, for me, was the killer blow. To lose Ronnie was bad enough, but to lose Woody as well. … The jig was well and truly up.”

After finishing his first tour with the Rolling Stones in the summer of 1975, Ronnie Wood rejoined the Faces for their final dates in the fall of that year. “Woody found it hard to make a clean break,” Stewart said. “For a while he thought he could work for both bands and keep everyone happy, but that was never going to be practical – and eventually, in December 1975, I conceded that was it.”

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