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Farewell to ARMS partnership / Ronnie Lane
by Marty Racine
Houston Chronicle; Houston, Tex.; Mar 25, 1986

``Rock 'n' roll musicians don't ask for much respect,'' Ronnie Lane said ruefully, sitting at his kitchen table.

``But I think we deserve it,'' he added.

Lane's troubles with the officers of Action into Research for Multiple Sclerosis (ARMS) of America Ltd., particularly with former director Mae Nacol, extend beyond alleged financial misdealings. They represent a classic case of the kind of misunderstanding that develops when two separate worlds collide.

By his own admission, Lane, like many of his contemporaries who came of age in the '60s, was a musician first, not a businessman.

``I'm glad all this is out, I really am,'' he said, regarding the news that the state attorney general's office is investigating misappropriation of funds and mismanagement at ARMS of America.

``I should have known more about what was going on, but I couldn't really, not in the shape I was in at the time. I trusted Mae Nacol. She was like a dream come true - to find an attorney who has got MS, who's supposedly a millionaire and doesn't need to feed off this. And she's got a business head. She seems to have conquered her disease. At least she's walking. I thought, `Great, perfect.' ''

In the beginning Lane was content to let Nacol take charge of ARMS activities. ``Mae picked the board (of directors). I had nothing to do with it. I trusted her. What a stupid thing to do, but I did.''

Still, Lane, despite his multiple sclerosis, performed ARMS functions out of the headquarters at 1801 Main.

``I personally drove Ronnie to the ARMS office an average of three to four times a week,'' said James Burnett, a friend and caretaker of Lane.

Burnett lived with and cared for Lane for five months, from February to June 1985, until ARMS cut his salary in half.

``We spent an average of two hours a day up there (in the ARMS office). He did make himself very available to ARMS and to the ARMS members who called to speak with him.''

Said another friend who has known Lane for 13 months and asked not to be identified: ``Ronnie's a musician, not a businessman. He's the first one to admit that. Of course, that's all changed. He's more astute.''

Houston was also a logical choice for Lane because of Nacol's hyperbaric oxygen treatment center. ``Initially they (the treatments) helped,'' Lane said.

``When I first moved here, working for ARMS, I was starting my day off with scrambled eggs and toast, the bloody things I'm toxic to. So that put me right in the pits to start with.''

But later, Jo Rae DiMenno, Lane's friend and publicist, steered him to a book called ``MS: Something Can Be Done, And You Can Do It'' by Dr. Robert Soll, who operates a clinic in Iowa that is researching MS as allergy-based.

``That was the right attitude. I haven't even read the book. I went straight to him.''

He went to Soll's clinic in Iowa and remained there for three weeks. ``They taught me to walk again. They taught me some steps, like you teach someone to dance.''

Friends say that since Lane returned Dec. 21 from Soll's clinic, he has been walking for short distances and brief spells without the use of a cane or wheelchair.

Lane, an East Londoner, co-founded the Small Faces in the 1960s with ace guitarist Steve Marriott, drummer Kenney Jones (now with the Who) and keyboardist Ian McLagan (who played for the Rolling Stones). They were one of the die-hard English blues-rock bands that refused to go progressive and probably are best known for their 1967 hit, ``Itchycoo Park''.

Two years later, Marriott joined Peter Frampton in Humble Pie. Lane, Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood (now with the Rolling Stones), renamed the Small Faces as, simply, the Faces.

As the Faces, Lane's band was a fixture of the early '70s, even if the glory days of British rock were history.

Following the Faces breakup, Lane returned to his sheep farm in Wales. He did form another, lesser known group, Slim Chance, which recorded a number of minimal-selling albums and traveled England, putting on concerts under a circus-like big top.

Perhaps his finest moment on record is ``Rough Mix'', recorded in 1977 and re-released in 1983, featuring Eric Clapton, the Who's Peter Townshend and John Entwhistle, and the Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts, among others. Shortly after the initial release, he was diagnosed as having MS, and he has been fighting it since, putting his career on hold.

Today, Lane is learning the guitar all over again. ``I don't consider myself a guitarist anymore,'' he said matter-of-factly Saturday, sitting with an electric Gibson guitar leaning against the wall behind him.

After he was dismissed by the ARMS board Feb. 10, he established the Ronnie Lane Foundation to perform the same function that he feels ARMS neglected. Last weekend, the foundation, which is now incorporated, raised $13,000 in the third annual KLOL Rock 'n' Roll Auction.

``Right now, the most important thing I can do, now that ARMS is effectively useless, is that I endorse the theory that MS is allergy-related,'' Lane said. He added that the foundation plans to put out a newsletter and perhaps establish a national MS hot line to disseminate Soll's theories.

In the meantime, he is moving to Austin with DiMenno - Houston's high humidity affects his disease adversely - where he will divide his time between his music and the Ronnie Lane Foundation.



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