HIS childhood friends called him Plonk and
The Gnome. By the end of his life, he called himself "a bloody useless
cripple". Ronnie Lane,
bassist, songwriter and co-founder of The Small Faces and The Faces has died
after a long struggle with multiple sclerosis.
East London-born Lane, who was 51, died at
his home in Colorado at a time when his music was finding a new audience. An
album of his hits was being compiled and a live album of past performances
was completed on the day he died.
The Small Faces, which Lane formed with Steve
Marriott in 1964, helped to set the musical pattern for many of today's
Britpop bands. Hits such as Itchycoo Park, Lazy Sunday and All Or Nothing
were among those that defined a 1960s sound which more recent bands have
been keen to emulate.
Paul Weller, Oasis's Noel and Liam Gallagher
and Ocean Colour Scene are recording an album of Small Faces songs to raise
money for Lane. The profits will now probably go to his children.
Lane was taken to hospital last month and had
been given two to four months to live on the day he died.
"We were just doing this deal about the
album when someone phoned me and said he was dead," said Art Wood,
brother of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and a member, together with
Lane, of the band Quiet Melon. "We'd all wanted to do it when he was
Lane's American wife buried him immediately.
Terry Rawlins, Rolling Stones biographer and a friend, said: "She
buried him on the same day he died. It's an Apache tradition."
Lane left Britain for the USA in 1983 in
search of the best treatment for his illness, which had been diagnosed in
the mid-1970s. He was confined to a wheelchair in his later years.
He left Britain after a benefit concert held
at the Royal Albert Hall in 1983 featuring Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy
Page. But after the concert he discovered that money raised for charity
could not be taken out of the country.
Life in the US did not always go as planned.
He formed an American branch of the charity, ARMS - Action Research for
Multiple Sclerosis - which raised millions of dollars. But the money
disappeared, through no fault of Lane's. As a trustee, however, he was
liable for the money raised and had to appear in court.