Ronnie Lane

Ronnie Lane Interview #1  Part Two

DAVE:         It appears that, after you found out you had MS, things just slid for you until now. I was out with Jim McCarty the other night... you know Jim?    He was the drummer in the Yardbirds...

LANE:        Oh, yeah!!
Ronnie Lane

DAVE:         It wasn’t until Jim mentioned the ARMS concert at the Royal Albert Hall that I knew about the concert. [I had interviewed McCarty during my first visit to England and had become friendly with him. At this point, it was the norm for him to ring me up to meet at a pub for some music and drink. In fact, while Jim and I were out drinking the night I arrived in London this second time, he filled me in on Ronnie’s progress and the ARMS gig, etc.    Also, we saw a familiar face onstage at the ½ Moon, Putney:     the band playing that night featured ex-Lane alumni, Steve Simpson. —DM]     

LANE:         Yeah, it was... my existence instigated it, I suppose. The money wasn’t for me, it was to get a hyperbaric oxygen chamber for people with MS. I walked around for years wondering why I’d got the bloody thing, quite honestly, and suddenly I got the answer: What better fellow to get it?         

DAVE:         Why’s that? 

LANE:         Well, because I can do something. I can instigate something like the Albert Hall, which would raise enough money to get a chamber! To get an oxygen chamber, a decompression chamber is what it is. It’s called a hyperbaric unit.        

DAVE:         What did happen between 1977 and now?

LANE:         Oh, a lot of things. I mean, like, for a long time I was... I started to drink quite heavily. (Long pause) And I made a couple of albums. (Pause) My marriage broke up. I met Boo. Hello, Boo!     And that’s brought us up to date, I think. Nothing great, y’know?         

BOO:         He was rescued by ARMS... Action Research into Multiple Sclerosis.    He went to the States and tried the venom (treatment).

LANE:         Yeah. Oh, yeah… 

BOO:         Came back here in a terrible state, thinking he was getting better. Brainwashing himself into saying he was getting better.    And (then) ARMS took him in hand.
the Ronnie Lane Appeal for A.R.M.S. logo, 1983

DAVE:         The venom treatment didn’t do anything?       

LANE:        No!!   

BOO:         It was frightening, the venom treatment. I mean…

DAVE:         It must have been bloody painful.

BOO:         You can try to persuade yourself that every injection your giving is going to make him feel better but, when I went down the road I was thinking about it. In coming back, I really felt he was being poisoned. And he was so enthusiastic about it that he kept on upping the dose!(Ronnie was very close to his microphone and, at this point, you can hear him chuckling under his breath.)

LANE:         And then I got forked tongue! (Laugh)

BOO:         It was terrible! He smelled of a snake! He started smelling of a snake!

LANE:         You know what a snake smells like?

BOO:         Action Research, these people that have taken him (in), they had open minds, you know? He was the only person they knew that was on the venom in England. They were doing blood tests and things like this, and they didn’t see that it was helping him at all. But, they didn’t tell him. It was up to him to sort of own up to it! (Laugh)    And, eventually, the venom ran out. There was no more venom.

DAVE:         That was the, uh… What’s his name, Sessler?

LANE::         Freddie Sessler.

DAVE:         Freddie Sessler in…

LANE::         Florida.

DAVE:         Florida, yeah. And then he moved to Jamaica, and you guys came back and had a year’s treatment left that he’d given you.

BOO:         Yeah! You know a lot about that!

    We had about two or three month’s treatment...    If the placebo effect could work on Ronnie, it would have worked with the snake venom, you see? That’s one thing I know. If that venom was going to work, and it was like a placebo thing, it would have worked for Ronnie because he was so determined for it to work. Ab-so-lute-ly determined!

DAVE:         So, when it didn’t even work as a placebo, you knew it had nothing...

BOO:         And as soon as he stopped taking it he slowly started getting stronger.

DAVE:         Oh, really? It was actually deteriorating his health?

BOO:         Oh, yeah!

LANE:         Oh! I was in a terrible state!

BOO:         People believed he was on his deathbed, y’know? They really thought...

LANE:         I got in a terrible state.

BOO:         He really was. Walking around the block and... Oh, dear, limping around the block...    And then he started the HBO treatment, and that’s the only thing I can honestly say (has helped), with diets and everything else. After he had the first twenty treatments of HBO, it’s the first time I ever saw anything really positive that’s happened to him. Living with it, you watch all the time. You just watch for anything!   (After the initial treatments of) HBO, he was up until midnight for about two weeks! (Laughter) He was writing music! He was walking without his sticks! He had enough energy and strength to walk without his sticks! It lasted for two weeks.

DAVE:         See, the only thing that I’d actually heard about (your having MS)...   I’d arranged for an interview with you about two years back…

LANE:         Oh, yeah?

DAVE:        That’s long before I knew anything about the MS, and...

BOO:          Well, he was a closet MS for ages and ages and ages.

DAVE:         I’d gone through Altham’s office and had this interview arranged and everything. At the time, it was going to be through the mail. I was going to send over a list of questions along with a cassette for you to record your answers on and send it back. But, when I decided to come to England, I went ahead and pushed it a bit more for a person-to person interview. I thought you were still recording and all this, so I got an immediate cutoff. Then I found through a Rolling Stone article with Kurt Loder...

BOO:         ...Kurt Loder...

LANE:         Oh, yeah!

DAVE:         That’s actually how I found out that you had MS...     Actually, in that article, that was at the time you thought the venom treatment was actually helping him?

BOO:         Oh, yeah! Ronnie was determined for that to work!

LANE:         Yeah!!

DAVE:         How bad off did the snake venom treatment put you?

LANE:         Well it, uh... It really didn’t do anything. As Boo said, I was pretty determined that it would work. Because I knew there had to be something that could help. I mean, I couldn’t believe what was happening, you know? The kind of... the kind of fatigue that you get is very hard for someone...certainly, for someone that hasn’t got it, to imagine. You know? And you’ve got nothing else to do except sort of sit down and think, because it doesn’t actually stop your mind thinking or anything like that...

BOO:         It can do, but it hasn’t...

LANE:         It can do... but it didn’t.    So, you know, I was... It’s so strange to think... You think, "why am I like this? I’m like I’ve been in some sort of terrible car accident, but I haven’t." You know? "And, I’m so tired, as if I’d been up for three weeks. And I haven’t," you know? You’re kind of thinking all these things. It’s like a bloody nightmare, and yet it’s not a nightmare! You’re really there, in the middle of it. It’s kind of weird!    Where was we? Me minds gone...(Laughter)

DAVE:         We were going from ‘77 all the way up to the present...    It seems you’d hit rock bottom.

LANE:         Yeah. Well, the point is...

BOO:         The point is, he’d got MS and wasn’t telling anybody. So, people would look at him...He was drunk, as well. And even when he was straight he looked drunk to everybody. Because that’s MS: it makes people look drunk, and things like that

LANE:         Yes.  And there was all sorts of people toppin’ themselves quite successfully. Keith Moon went. Then John Bonham went. Then Lennon got shot.

BOO:         Oh, wonderful! All these lovely disasters going on!

LANE:         And, believe it, if anybody wanted to get there it was me! And all these fellas was doing it effortlessly!

BOO:         (Through laughter) He was really miserable!

LANE:         I was very miserable.

BOO:         Antisocial and miserable! (Laughter)

DAVE:         This was ‘79, ‘80?

LANE:         Oh, yeah. Well, I wasn’t as bad off then. I didn’t get this attack until just over two years ago, wasn’t it?

BOO:         You were in a terrible state then. You should have, I mean...

LANE:         I wasn’t in a good state, but I was walking all right, basically.

BOO:         You were walking... you had that attack... You had that attack in the Royal Wedding...

LANE:         Two days after the Royal wedding. [July 31, 1981—D.M.]

BOO:         Then you flew to the States, and walked too far and had another attack.

DAVE:         What is an ‘attack’, though?

BOO:         Loss of action.

LANE:         Well, it’s a kind of a weakness that accumulates in a limb...

BOO:         We can get into a completely different thing, now...    This concert that’s going to America now...

DAVE:         Yeah, it’s a tour now...

BOO:         It’s forming ARMS International, for everybody that has MS in America to get together...

DAVE:         Why don’t you come closer to the microphone... Take a seat.

BOO:         No! Ronnie can say it! Come on, Ronnie!

LANE:        Yeah, well this tour now, that was the Albert Hall concert, is going to America. It’s going to raise...

DAVE:         Why don’t you explain how you decided to get this ARMS gig came together...

LANE:        Oh, right. Well...

BOO:        (Giggling) He didn’t know about it in the beginning!

DAVE:         Who started it, then?

LANE:       No, I didn’t. This is something that Boo (started). Boo, you come around here! Boo! Cuz she keeps shoutin’ out from the kitchen! She won’t come out here and talk, ladies and gentleman! Come on, Boo! Come and get it over!

BOO:         No! You can say how you found out about it, because you thought I was having a scene with somebody! Tell how you saw it from your eyes! All my sneaking about and giggling!

LANE:         (Laughing) No, no, no, no, no, no!! No, Boo got the idea. And, when she first told me, I didn’t... I thought it was too much of a long shot.

DAVE:         What was the idea at the time?

LANE:         To do a gig to raise the money to buy one of these hyperbaric units, an eight-man one to start doing people in London, because there wasn’t one in London. And I thought to myself, "this is ridiculous! This is supposed to be the capitol of this country, and we haven’t got one!"

DAVE:         London doesn’t have a lot of things...

LANE:         Yeah, right! It’s a bit like the Middle Ages over here, isn’t it?

Ronnie Lane around 1975DAVE:         In a way it really is.

LANE:         You hear that, Salt Lake City?!

DAVE:         Salt Lake City is too, though!

LANE:         Yeah!

BOO:         Have they got a decompression chamber?

DAVE:         (Laughing) Salt Lake City???

BOO:         How far below sea level is Salt Lake City?

DAVE:         It isn’t. It’s a couple thousand feet up.

BOO:        Oh, it’s up? I thought it was down and that’s why they didn’t need one...

LANE:         Well, what bout this interview, you??!

BOO:         Go on.

LANE:         Where was I? Yeah! Boo had the idea for the gig. We set up a meeting of people that have MS, to see if we could get any weight from people around here. We invited Glyn Johns to come along, and he couldn’t make it so he sent Ian Stewart, y’see? Ian Stewart came along and we had the talk, and the man from ARMS who sort of know all about these things-- and knows how to speak properly, as well... not like me... He obviously convinced Ian Stewart, cuz Ian Stewart went back to Glyn Johns and said, "I think they’re onto something here, and we should help Ronnie."       So Glyn Johns came out of the woodwork and said that he would get the gig together that Boo had envisioned. He contacted Eric Clapton and everybody and that’s how the... Now, then, it was originally for the Hammersmith Odeon, but Eric Clapton’s manager said, "if you’re going to get this band together, Eric’s got to do a gig for Prince Charles. Really, if Eric’s gonna do it, I think it’s in order that this band does one for Prince Charles, also." So, that was agreed, and the Albert Hall was booked. That’s how it ended up from the Hammersmith Odeon into the Albert Hall.    Of course, it was a great success. I mean, a supergroup!! (Laugh) There was never a supergroup like that one! And it did very well! And, would you believe, they all enjoyed themselves so muc

DAVE:         Exactly who is in this supergroup?

LANE:         Well, there’s Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Stevie Winwood, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts. Is that the lot?BOO:        (whispering) the bongo player...

LANE:         Oh, and the bongo player. His name is Ray Cooper.Lane and Boo Oldfield in their Kentish Town flat, 1983  (c)1983, 1999 Dave McNarie

         How many is that?

LANE:         It’s like a football team, isn’t it?

BOO:         Where’s the picture?

DAVE:         He used to be with Elton John’s band.

LANE:         Right! He used to be with Elton John.

DAVE:         Did a whole load of session work, as well.

BOO:           Oh, he’s fantastic!

LANE:         Yes! He’s pretty good!

       Oh! And Kenney Jones!! How could I possibly forget my old compatriot?!    Anyhow, we’re taking it to America to raise some money. Obviously, we would come to America.    Doh! And Chris Stainton! And Andy Fairweather-Low! And Fernando (Saunders), the American bass player for Beck. And Stevie Winwood wanted him.     Anyway, we’re coming to America now to raise some money to start an Action Research into Multiple Sclerosis in America, would you believe? Because Americans get it as well, y’know?    Something is very strange about (MS)as well. I think it’s a bit strange, anyway. It seems only to be-- in a sick way, it’s quite funny, or is it just ironic-- it seems to be a white man’s disease. I have not yet seen a black man with multiple sclerosis.

DAVE:         Sometimes disease does have a race barrier, yeah.

LANE:         Oh, yeah!

BOO:         Well, we don’t get sickle cell anemia.

LANE:         Yeah, there’s also black man’s diseases that white men don’t get. But, MS definitely seems to be a white man’s disease. I haven’t seen any redskins with it, either! (Laughter)

DAVE:         Okay, let’s see how many more racial connotations we can get in here!

BOO:         No, they’re safe, you see?

LANE:         Yeah! I’m glad for ‘em! I’m glad for ‘em! I thought perhaps that it would cheer ‘em up!        So, where are we now, I ask?

DAVE:         Oh, how much touring will you do over in the States?

LANE:         They’re going to do two nights in Dallas, would you believe? I don’t know why we’re starting there, but there must be a method to the madness.(At this point, the tape runs out and is replaced with a new tape. As the second tape begins recording sound, Lane is petting his Great Dane.)

LANE:         Trampus!! I love you, Trampus! I do!!    Right! We’ll have two nights in Dallas. We’ll have three nights in San Francisco, two nights in Los Angeles, and two nights in New York.

DAVE:         How much money is expected to be raised from all of this?

LANE:         Cor!! I dunno! I mean, New York alone is Madison Square Garden, y’know? Phew!

DAVE:         I’m sure you’ve all gotten out your calculators and...

BOO:         Nope! (Laughing) That’s all down to Glyn Johns!

LANE:         Glyn Johns is doing all that.

BOO:         Thank goodness!

LANE:         Anyway, it’s all going to Florida to start up...

BOO:         Well, no, it’s not all going to Florida. It’s all going to ARMS, to set up ARMS (In America). And Florida... Professor Neubauer is the doctor in Florida that has an HBO center. And, in fact, he’s the leading man on hyperbaric oxygen.

LANE:        He started it.

DAVE:         How long ago did this treatment come about, then?

BOO:         A long time ago!

DAVE:         It just hasn’t gotten that much attention...

BOO:         Well, what happened was there was a report made by a Dr. Fischer that was, I think, in 1978. That report came about (because) the MS Society hired Fischer to disprove Neubauer, and he couldn’t disprove Neubauer! I’ll show you a video in a minute. He couldn’t disprove him, and his report was completed in 1980, and it’s only just come out this year!    I mean, what is it all about?! So, this whole concert is also a little bit of the rebel coming out of rock and roll!    It’s not quite as straightforward! They know...

LANE:         One thing is for sure: there’s a bit more to this Multiple Sclerosis Society than meets the eye! Without a doubt!

BOO:         In this country.

LANE:         Because they blocked going ahead for hyperbaric oxygen, and they’ve really got no right to because...

BOO:         They like the double –blind trial. Okay, they’re playing it super-safe. But, when ARMS was formed about six years ago... this is an English group of everybody who is fed up with going to MS Society meetings, and they’re told "you’ve got a disease..."

LANE:         "...accept it!..."

DAVE:         "Leave it at that..."

BOO:         "You’re slowly going to become disabled. So, be a good boy now and go into your wheelchair, and make it easy on the people who have to look after you."    That sort of whole mentality: "There’s nothing we can do for you." And that, to me, is killing somebody before they’ve even started. The whole "Action Research" is "Up you, MS Society!" And it’s all people and friends and relatives of people who have MS that started it. The person that’s going around now about hyperbaric oxygen, his wife died! Not from MS, but from septicemia, from bedsores. It’s disgusting, isn’t it? But, HBO helps the bedsores! It helps the skin heal. And, in fact, in Whipp's Cross Hospital and in Ascot, another hospital, they have HBO units where they put people who have bedsores into their HBO chamber, completely...

DAVE:         ...for that alone...

BOO:         ...And what do they call those bone surgeons who saw off legs? What are they called?

DAVE:         Knackers?

LANE:         Butchers?

BOO:         Orthopedic surgeons! Orthopedic surgeons use the HBO to help heal after amputations. And it’s a treatment for gas gangrene as well.


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©1983, 2004 D.C. McNarie May not be reproduced in any manner without prior written consent of author.

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