Ronnie Lane, 51, an English
rock bass guitarist who founded the band Small Faces, died Wednesday at his
home in Colorado.
The cause of death was multiple sclerosis,
the Reuters news agency reported.
Mr. Lane was 18 in 1964 when he and Steve
Marriott founded the Small Faces, so named because all five band members
were short. The band came up with a jaunty, informal-sounding mixture of
pop, rock and skiffle, soon warped by psychedelia; in 1967, a Small Faces
single called "Itchycoo Park" introduced the psychedelic sound of
phase-distorted guitar to American Top 40 radio. In 1968, the band made a
whimsical concept album, "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake," that mingled
songs with a punning fairy-tale narrative.
Marriott left the Small Faces and was
replaced by Rod Stewart, who brought along a fellow Jeff Beck Group member,
Ronnie Wood, on guitar.
The group became the Faces, and gradually
turned into Stewart's backup band. Mr. Lane left in 1973 to start the group
Slim Chance, and in 1976 and 1977 he recorded a duet album with Pete
Townshend of the Who, "Rough Mix" . But by then, he was feeling
the effects of multiple sclerosis.
"The odd spasm of double vision I didn't
take very seriously at first," he said in 1987. "I just put it
down to that heavy Saturday night I just had. But it came on me very
suddenly when I was trying to put the bass line on a song that I'd written.
My fingers just would not work, and I thought, `What the hell has happened
to me?' From there it led to crippledom."
In the early 1980s, Mr. Lane found some
relief with hyperbaric oxygen, an unorthodox treatment, and decided to
publicize the method with concerts in 1983 at the Royal Albert Hall in
London and at Madison Square Garden in New York to benefit the charity
Action Research for Multiple Sclerosis. The performers included Eric Clapton,
Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Wood among the guitarists and Charlie Watts and
Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones. A videotape was released of the London
show, which also included Steve Winwood.
Later, Mr. Lane came to think the treatments
were a palliative, not a cure. But he persevered as a performer; in 1987,
using a wheelchair, he played again with a band called the Tremors, in Texas
and in New York.
He is survived by his wife, Sue, and two sons
from an earlier marriage.