Ronnie Lane

Ronnie Lane Interview #1    Part Three

DAVE:         How does it help?

BOO:         What it does is it forces oxygen into your system... how many times? Seventeen times?

LANE:        Seven times.

BOO:         Seven times as much oxygen into your system, and it literally forces it through, because it’s under pressure...

LANE:         So each breath you take is like taking seven times more than what you do in this room, y’know?Lane press photo


BOO:         What they think it is, because MS is stress related as well...

LANE:         You can get high on it, too!

BOO:         Uh, no higher, I bet, than having a good keep-fit class!

LANE:         Well, I don’t know about that! I’m not able to do that!

BOO:         Well, with you, you’re not able to keep fit, but you know...    Do you ever do exercises and that sort of thing?

DAVE:        Yeah, sure.

BOO:         I reckon that’s what it’s like. Just feeling fit and sort of on top of the world.    When people are under stress, the liver (releases) more cholesterol into your bloodstream. And what they think is happening with MS is that cholesterol is getting blocked in the little capillaries on the central nervous system, and where the blockage is plasma is leaking onto the Myelin Sheath. That is like an insulation wire, and when the Myelin Sheath deteriorates it’s like the wires fuse. Short-circuit. And that’s, basically, what MS is.    What oxygen does is disperse the cholesterol, and it reduces all the inflammation. It seems to be doing the same thing that steroids do, without any side effects.

DAVE:         Oh, steroids have been a treatment?

BOO:         Steroids is a general treatment for MS.

LANE:         I’ve been on that, as well! 

BOO:         Oh! You should see him on steroids! Puffed up like this! He looked like a hamster full of food! A really bulky face. Really ill!

LANE:         You name it, I’ve tried it

!DAVE:        Why is the MS Society so against new treatments?

BOO:         They didn’t start putting money into research-- not as much money as they do now-- until ARMS formed. They’ve been helping people be cripples!

LANE:         The Society was a great organization if you want to be a cripple, you know what I mean?

BOO:         You know, taking all the cripples out on holiday and things like this, but not so much getting you out of the chair!

DAVE:         Is that exactly what they do? Take them off on holiday and such?

BOO:         That’s exactly what they do! That’s right!

LANE:         Yeah!

DAVE:         Shit! That’s ridiculous!

LANE:         Take you off in a Cripple’s Coach... 

BOO:         Yeah!

LANE: sit by the Crippled Sea... (laughter) ...gonna have a cripple party!

BOO:         Ronnie’s mother has had MS all of Ronnie’s life.    The MS Society has been around for about thirty years.

DAVE:         But how much do they actually spend on trying to help the people, to actually find a cure and...

BOO:         Since ARMS was formed six years ago, they’ve put in about a million pounds a year into research.

DAVE:         Have they ever put that much into research before, though?

BOO:         Not a lot.

DAVE:         And yet, when treatments do come about, however controversial they may be, they like to cover them up, or at least keep people from trying it...

BOO:         Yes.

DAVE:         And what’s the point in doing that when there’s no sure way? 

BOO:         They’re putting thousands of pounds into this double-blind trial at the Whipp’s Cross Hospital and, according to Professor Neubauer, the way they’re doing it is not going to succeed anyway. And it’s going to take three years, and three years to anybody with MS is the difference between having an arm or losing it. Because, I don’t care, they might still have the arm there, but if they can’t use it, they might as well chop it off! You know? And each limb, each leg, each part of the body-- They go blind. People go blind with MS! You can lose your mentality. You can lose any part of yourself!         Ronnie Lane Live                 

LANE:         You can lose your sense of humor! (Laughter)

BOO:         Yeah, sure! (Laughter)

LANE:         That’s real rough, that is! 

BOO:         Real bad!    So what they’re doing at the Whipp’s Cross as far as we know, they’re putting people in for their twenty treatments, some in an oxygen chamber, some in just pressurized air without... just air under pressure, for the blind trial business. And then they’re just going to watch those people after the twenty treatments...

DAVE:         And leave it at that...

BOO:         ...and leave it at that! And just watch them over the next two years. And I know what’s going to happen. I know from Ronnie! After two weeks of the twenty treatments, he starts running down, so he needs to go for a weekly top-off after that. Now Ronnie, after twenty treatments, didn’t get another treatment for four months afterwards so, really, it was like him starting all over again. It took him four or five months of weekly top-offs to...

DAVE:         ...just to get back to where he was...

BOO: get back where he was when he finished the twenty treatments. But, during that time, he had an attack! And he literally crawled into a chamber and walked out of it. Really! Using a wheelchair in, and he walked out of it! So, the MS Society can...y’know? (Laughing) And all the doctors!              Because there aren’t any side effects. There aren’t any damaging side effects. Maybe people go deaf for a couple of weeks, just from irritation in the ears from the pressure. But it doesn’t last forever. There’s nothing permanent.

DAVE:         How much does this sort of treatment cost?

BOO:         It costs us, for our unit that we’re opening, about 30,000 pounds to buy the chamber , have the property for a year, and set us up for a year. But then, after that, it’s just maintaining... It costs about four pounds a dive. And everybody that’s involved in it, hopefully, will be volunteering to take people down. So, friends and relatives of whoever is inside the chamber will be taking... Everyone will be trained.

DAVE:         Where is this going to be?

BOO:          Our North London one is going to be in Islington, I think.

DAVE:         How much did it initially cost to take Ronnie down?

BOO:          Well, if it’s National Health, it’s nothing!

DAVE:         Oh, yeah! That’s right! So, in the States, it’s....

LANE:         In the States, I think...

BOO:          It’s difficult to say. In America, Neubauer costs about ninety dollars a dive. But then it’s much more plush. I mean, we’re getting a warehouse together, you know? (Laugh) It’s going to be really rustic! The people are going to get the treatments, but it’s not going to be...

DAVE:          You don’t get the cocktails...

BOO:           No, but not only that, you’ve got Professor Neubauer, and he’s a doctor. You’re talking about proper medical treatments, where here we’re just... I would like to employ a nurse, to have on the premises all the time. And it would be nice if National Health do take it over as they find out it does work, you know? It’s just helping too many people! 

DAVE:         How much of a help do you think this is, as long as you do the topping off? Does it just stop the deterioration, or does it also help bring back a bit?

BOO:          Well, what happened with Ronnie was this fatigue, this terrible fatigue... you’re too tired to even think, if you can think of it that way. You’re just too tired to think and cope with normal problems. For a start, it gave him the energy to exercise and get back what he’d lost. And, if you have no energy to even exercise, you just waste away! And it also breaks spasms.    What happened in Dundee, Professor James had this little boy of four years old. And when he was seven months old, his arm was twisted around in a spasm, and they couldn’t do anything with it. This is a stroke victim, and HBO’s got a lot of research... When he was four years old, he went into the chamber. His mother really persuaded them to put him in the chamber. He went in the chamber, and after a certain amount of treatments, it released the spasm.    This is what happens with Ronnie. His leg goes into spasm. It’s so stiff he can’t work it, can’t move it. And it seems to slowly be breaking the spasm. Slowly, slowly, slowly. So, there’s just general improvement with him, because he is able to exercise.

LANE:         Thank you, Professor Boo! (Laughter)

BOO:          Well, it’s true!

LANE:         So, where are we now, I ask? Oh! How the salt got into the lake of Salt Lake City.

DAVE:         Yep that’s right.         Yep that’s right.

LANE:         And you said, "Aww! That’s boring!" 

DAVE:         Well, you never heard of Lake Bonneville, did you? The Great Salt Lake used to be a huge lake...

LANE:         Lake Bonneville... Yeah, I’ve heard of it.  

DAVE:         That’s good.

LANE:         Isn’t that where they used to do races or something?

DAVE:         Yeah, the Salt Flats.

LANE:         Triumph made a motorbike called the Bonneville. I think that’s where it got it’s name.

DAVE:         Anything else you want to say about Salt Lake City?

LANE:         Yeah: "Good old Salt Lake City!"

DAVE:         I think that’s about it... 

LANE:        "Good on ya, man!" (Big laugh) Oh, well...

DAVE:         You used to live in Twickenham by (Pete) Townshend. Weren’t you and Pete good friends, sharing the religion of Meher Baba and all? 

LANE:         Yeah. Yeah, sure. We were good friends. Well, we are good friends.  In actual fact, it was Townshend that Boo approachedSlim Chance LP to put this (ARMS) gig together, and he said... What did he say, Boo?

BOO:         That was a joke! That was a joke!  He said, "yeah!"

LANE:         He said, "yes". But, when it came that it was actually going to happen, he said "no"!

DAVE:         As Townshend is so apt to do!

LANE:         Yeah! Yeah, old Trousers!

BOO:         Then he changed his mind again. He said "yes", and Glyn said "no way!"

LANE:         Glyn had got it all together, anyway. So, that was the end of that.DAVE:         (Townshend) must be a pain to have to work with...

LANE:         Who, Pete?!    He can be... difficult!

DAVE:          (Laughing) It’s hard for him not to be, I suppose.

LANE:           Yeah, well, on Rough Mix he did write that song, "(Just Want To Be) Misunderstood" You should play that song, just to sort of... "   It’s all true, folks!!" "   It’s all true, folks!!"

DAVE:         Yeah...! I think I’ve got it here, actually.

LANE:         Really?!

DAVE:         There’s Slim Chance. Mahoney’s Last Stand... Yep, here it is. Rough Mix. Damned good album.

LANE:         How ‘bout that!   

DAVE:         Oh, yeah... on Slim Chance, what’s that song that’s the bare bones of "Annie"?

LANE:         Aaaahhhhh!!!    "Give Me A Penny"!   Yeah!!     A bit of an arrangement came out of that. I thought, "that’s nice! That could be a song!" So, I wrote "Annie"! (Laughs)     Arrangements often come like that. You think of a line in an arrangement, and you think, "Blimey! That’s better than the song! I’ll use that later on!" So, you do!  Well, I do! Perhaps that’s cheating, but "nuts"!

DAVE:         You wrote the original, so what’s the point in arguing?

LANE:         Absolutely! I don’t mind nicking off meself! There’s no law against it, because I’m not going to sue meself! Or am I wrong??! (Laughs)

DAVE:         (Pointing to one of several guitars hanging on his walls) Isn’t that the guitar from the back cover of Slim Chance?

LANE:         No, that one’s gone. I gave that one away. That was the one I gave to Topper, the fellow that comes around and takes me swimming now and again.

BOO:         (Moaning) You’re a naughty boy for doing that.  He’s very generous, you know. 

LANE:         Well, I think what he does for me is generous!  He plays a guitar, and he had his stolen. You see how many guitars I have up there on the wall, and I don’t play them that much... He didn’t have a guitar to play around and do a few gigs with, so I said, "yeah, take it," y’know?    And she says ‘ aww that’s too generous...’

BOO:          (Protesting) Well, it is, because it’s your work, your music, your’s your special sound...

LANE:        (Gesturing to guitars) Well, what about all these? What about all these, then?   Eh?    Now, that one there, that acoustic bass: I got that idea from the Mexican street bass. I had a place in Ibiza with no electricity, you see?... back when I was in the Faces, of course, rolling in money. I thought I’d Like one of those Mexican street basses, but they were awful!   So I got Tony Zematis to build me that one with the nice neck and all on it.    That one there is another Tony Zematis guitar.   I bought it off the wall just to take on the road to write some songs with.     That one is a Resonator guitar, which was originally a Gretsch.    Once again, the neck on that wasn’t very nice so I asked Tony to make me that one, which he did.    That one there is Eric Clapton’s!  Yep! I nicked it off him!   (Laughs)  And he’s not getting it back!    That one there was a fella’s who stole some money off me, so I kept it. (Laughter)    That one there is a 12-string Resonator, and I’ve never, ever seen a 12-string Resonator before, so I imagine it’s probably the only one in the world...

DAVE:         And that is obviously a Mustang...

LANE:         That’s a Mustang bass, which, originally, was Keith Richards’, and he’s not getting it back, either!  Unless he asks...  And that’s my old bass from the Faces.         That’s a Mustang bass, which, originally, was Keith Richards’, and he’s not getting it back, either!  Unless he asks...  And that’s my old bass from the Faces.

DAVE:         Yep.    I’ve seen that one on a cover or two.

LANE:         Yup.  They can all tell a story.

DAVE:         What period of time did you enjoy most with the Faces, then?

LANE:         From 1969 until ‘71, I would imagine.   They were very high years, they were.   Very high years... 

DAVE:         In more ways than one, I’m sure...

LANE:         Oh, yeah!  You name it, it happened!

DAVE:         The first cover, where you’re all on the couch and Ron’s got the Mickey Mouse doll...         

LANE:         That’s right!    (To Boo) And we were all sitting on Katie’s sofa, would you believe, Boo?         

BOO:         What’s that?

LANE:         The first Faces album, which we was called the Small Faces then. It had Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood,  so I don’t know what was "small" about them!         

BOO:         Rod Stewart’s not that big, is he?

DAVE:         Except maybe Rod’s mind... Or was it later that he got egotistical?

LANE:         Just a bit.

DAVE:         Still hasn’t gotten off his high horse yet, has he?

LANE:        Never will, mate.    He never will.

BOO:         Who’s that, then?    Rod Stewart? 

LANE:         Yeah.

BOO:         Do you know what he did over here?   He announced to the world that he was coming over here to sing for his "old mate, Ronnie Lane".   (He) didn’t contact anyone at all, he just made this great big announcement in all the Sunday papers.   And then he just disappeared!   (Boo then shows me a number of scrapbooks pertaining to Ronnie’s career, one of which includes a newspaper article about Rod’s non-appearance at the ARMS concert entitled, "Most Unpopular Man Not At The Royal Albert Hall")            It made so many people so angry that he would say such a thing!

DAVE:         How was (Jimmy) Page?    He seems in pretty bad shape.Ronnie with Jimmy Page 

LANE:         In actual fact,  I think that gig might have got him off it!

DAVE:         Oh, really?

LANE:         Yeah.

BOO:          He’s had a good talking-to!

LANE:        They all gave him a right rollicking’!

BOO:          You think about it! He was with Eric (Clapton), who was completely sober!   Everybody in that...

DAVE:         Eric was sober?

BOO:          Totally!

DAVE:         You’re shitting me!

BOO:           No way!!    It’s amazing!   I’m so proud of him!    He’s my hero!    That whole band have been there and come back again.   The one person that was out of it was old Jimmy, and he surrounded himself with the right kind of people.

DAVE:         Does he still have that French girlfriend of his?

BOO:         (Rolls and then closes her eyes in despair)

LANE:         If anyone can tell someone like that to come off it,  it’s someone that’s been there and come off it.   If someone hasn’t been there people say, "they don’t understand, they don’t understand."   He can’t say that with someone that’s bloody well been there!.

BOO:          In fact, with Eric completely ignoring Jimmy...

DAVE:         Did he?

BOO:          Oh, totally, because he doesn’t want to know about it!   Jimmy really, really, really, really pulled himself together.   He had to.

DAVE:         He was at death’s door, there.   He was getting close.

LANE:         Yes, he was.

DAVE:         What type of diet are you on?   Are you still on a restricted diet?

LANE:         Well, I’m not as bad... I don’t keep the gluten-free and all that, the macrobiotic diets and all that.    I’ve tried all them!   Cor! No,   I’m just on a lowfat diet. I don’t have butter.   I don’t have milk, unless it’s skim milk, and things like that.

DAVE:         You’re using wheat flour again now?

LANE:         Yeah.

BOO:          He was on the gluten-free diet for two almost.   Wasn’t it, Ronnie?

LANE:         That was about the same time as the snake venom and all?...

BOO:         No, that was before the snake venom.   About six months before he started the snake venom he started the gluten-free.  That really helped. I wasn’t so sure that it was just giving up drinking.   That helped, anyway.   He started swimming fourteen lengths, and walking back here.   He was doing real good.

DAVE:         But he wasn’t overexerting himself?

BOO:         If you overexert yourself with MS, you’re likely to put yourself into an attack, because it’s stress.   It all comes back to this stress thing.   He slowly built up to that.   There was a slow buildup to fourteen lengths.

LANE:         In actual fact, I’m going to go swimming today.

BOO:          If you’re up to it.

LANE:         What do you mean, ‘if’ I’m up to it?

BOO:          You were tired today.

LANE:         Aw, nuts! I’m going to do it!

BOO:           Aw, nuts!


Although I stopped the tape, Ronnie, Boo and I continued chatting and sipping tea for some time. In all, I was at the flat for over three hours that day. Ronnie and I ended up walking down to the street, with Ronnie dropping me off at a nearby tube station as he drove off to go swimming. We talked about several things of interest which, as I remarked to Ronnie at the time, I regret not getting on tape. He said that turning the deck back on would be fine, but I chose not to impose on him any further. It had really turned into a chat more than an interview, so why ruin the moment?However, it is worth mentioning that, while on the way to his car, Ronnie spoke of his last project with Steve Marriott, the Majic Mijits. Ronnie said that the project was going along fine, the material had been recorded, Island Records had shown more than passing interest, and that everything pointed towards an album release. Keith Richards even loaned them 45,000 pounds to defray costs on finalizing the project. However, Ronnie claimed, Steve stole the money. He presumed this was to bankroll another reformation of Humble Pie. When Lane and Marriott next spoke on the phone, Ronnie alleged, Marriott said, "Ronnie? Is that you? I thought you were dead!" Although one wishes this sort of thing hadn’t occurred, I have found no reason to doubt Ronnie’s account.As Ronnie dropped me off, he invited me to return for another interview after his return from the ARMS tour of America. "There should be some stories worth hearing", he said. I rode the tube home that evening, listening to Rough Mix on headphones. I was in heaven. What was my most difficult interview to arrange was also my most enjoyable to do. In fact, to this day it is still my favorite for a variety of reasons. It certainly isn’t, technically, a very good interview: there are too many gaps and very little depth or continuity. For me, though, it wasn’t about being technically good. I wanted Ronnie to enjoy himself more than test his wits or memory. I let him lead the way and simply followed along, occasionally giving topics to see if they interested him. As the conversation it became, it was pretty good. It was also a true joy to be involved in.

My thanks go out to Keith Altham and all his staff back in 1980-83, particularly Erica. Thanks, also, to Boo Oldfield and, of course, Mr. Ronnie Lane.


Interview #2            Home

©1983, 1998 D.C. McNarie
May not be reproduced in any manner without prior written consent of author.


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