Ronnie Lane Interview #2

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Ronnie Lane Interview #2   Part One

Camden, London     
28 December 1983
By Dave McNarie 

Nearly two full months after my initial conversation with Ronnie, I went back to his flat for a follow-up interview. He had returned from the A.R.M.S. tour of the United States earlier in the month, and was still tired from the whole ordeal. He was beginning to show symptoms of the same flu his girlfriend, Boo, was bedridden with, and Ronnie had his two boys, Ruben and Luke, to take care of. It was just after Christmas and the house was filled with the toys and noise of his boys. The phone was ringing off the hook, the kettle was on the boil, and Ronnie had me to deal with.

We conducted this interview in the same location as before: the upstairs living room, next to the organ that was present the night the Faces formed so many years before. His boys played, argued, and tumbled nearby, sometimes pausing to watch the episode of "Bonanza" that was on television, or to add welcome disruptions to the "interview". It was a particular pleasure watching Ronnie interact with his children.

LANE: Let’s take this (phone) off.  Right. Where was we?    I’ve been sittin’ here all morning, and that phone hasn’t rung once. You get here, and it don’t stop!

DAVE:  Well, I attract attention, basically.April Fool LP

LANE:  Well, you can piss off as well!

DAVE: Don’t worry, I will with time. Don’t worry, I will with time.

How are we going to start this? Have any ideas?

RUBY:  (Referring to television) Will you turn it up, please? Turn it up.

LANE:  Uh… I don’t know how we’re gonna start this. I can’t remember what we’ve done so far.

RUBY:  Will you turn it up?

LANE: I’ve got to do an interview. I’m doin’ an interview, Ruby. I’m doin’ an interview on a tape recorder, and I don’t want the noise of that to go on the tape recorder, because Salt Lake City wouldn’t be very interested in Bonanza from England. 

RUBY: Are you going to do an impression of me? Am I going to be on ‘ere? On there? (Pointing to tape recorder). 

LANE:  Well, you will be if you keep shouting.   

DAVE: Basically, I thought I’d come back and do an update once you got back (from the American A.R.M.S. tour). What stories do you have to tell about the tour? 

LANE: Well, Joe Cocker was a great addition. Joe Cocker was a fantastic addition to the lineup, and he helped out greatly. Everybody had a ball. It was a magical kind of a tour.

We raised $18,000 less than a million, which is now a million dollars because it’s been invested, obviously. The interest has bumped it up to a million dollars. Also, my idea of starting an Action Research into MS in America has taken a bit of a rockin’ because I don’t know how to put it together properly. I mean, I know how to put one together, but I want to put a very potent one together, you know? An effective (organization) together, not a sham, and not one that’s there just to spend the money. So I’ve got a little bit more research to do on all that. But it will be done!  

Also, I never realized when I was goin’ over (to the US) with this kind of nave idea of mine that I was actually stepping on a political minefield, you know?

DAVE:  Oh, really?

LANE: Oh, yeah! The MS Society, they’ve got it all sewn up, and they don’t want anybody else in there, you know? And they’re the very people that have… Oh, I could tell you some very strange stories! I mean, let me tell you this story: 

You know this HBO, this Hyperberic Oxygen treatment? (It) basically saved my life… mentally, for me, because I had no energy. I couldn’t speak, at one stage. I certainly didn’t have any energy to exercise or anything until I took oxygen under pressure. Now, the MS Society have pooh-hood hyperberic oxygen, and put it aside and said "it’s dangerous, it’s brain damage…"

It’s only oxygen under pressure; it’s not a drug! I mean, they say that steroids are all right, and things like that, that [makes raspberry] blow you up to look like a hamster and all that. But, this oxygen under pressure is dangerous, all of a sudden!

Now, I know that is absolute nonsense, and this is what I want to put about. The MS Society hired a doctor Fisher, back in the seventies, to prove once and for all that hyperberic oxygen is no use, whatsoever, to people with MS. He worked on it for some years, and he couldn’t do it. His report came out in favor of the hyperberic oxygen. They asked him to go back and write his report again. Three times they sent him back to rewrite his report. The last time he finished it was in 1980. While I was still walkin’ about ordinarily, I might add. They didn’t rush-release the report at all, because it was in favor of HBO. In actual fact, it was only released early this year, 1983. Meanwhile, I’ve become crippled, ya see?

They’ve dismantled his oxygen chamber. It’s now in a car park in New York! He had a chamber himself, and he could not prove that oxygen was no good. He could only prove that it is of some help. It’s not a cure. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a cure. But, it’s of great assistance for someone to help keep it under control, and to live with it kind of ordinarily, y’know? (To) lead a bit of a life instead of gradually becoming crippled all of the time.

Anyway, that’s a story about the MS Society, and it’s not a very nice story. Not a very nice story at all, but it happens to be the case. And I think it’s disgusting, ya know?

DAVE: Did the tour get enough money to open your own hyperberic chamber

LANE: Well, we did, but my point is that we can’t do it in America like we can over here. You see, we can open up our own chamber over here where you just breathe pure oxygen through a mask, and your relatives can learn to operate the chamber. Well, we did, but my point is that we can’t do it in America like we can over here. You see, we can open up our own chamber over here where you just breathe pure oxygen through a mask, and your relatives can learn to operate the chamber.

But you won’t be able to do that in America. The other (system) is where you don’t need a mask, the whole chamber is full of pure (pressurized) oxygen. There, you’re talkin’ about a bomb, so you’ve got to have trained, proper technicians to run it.

What I hope to do, I think, is to get something called an NMR scanner, which is Nuclear Magnetic Response (sic), would you believe? It’s like kind of an x-ray, but it’s not an x-ray. But, it’s such a fine instrument that it can actually take a picture of your nerves, y’know? Now, what I aim to do is to get someone with MS and get them under this NMR scanner, and then put them through the treatment of the HBO, and then take a picture of them after the HBO. To prove, once and for all, that HBO does help. It’s not a cure, but it does help.

I don’t know. We’ve got a long way to go.

DAVE:  What would the main obstacle be in the States, then?

LANE: Finding the people, I suppose. I don’t know how to find the people. 

Y’see, ARMS over here was created by people with MS that got so frustrated at this whole attitude towards MS… You know, this sort of, "Well, you’ve got an incurable disease, now. You’re going to get crippled for the rest of your life, but just sit back and accept it. We’ve got a nice wheelchair for you out in the hall, and everything’s going to be rosy. Don’t make a panic, you’ll upset everyone." You know what I mean?! That’s what you’re given.

So they created ARMS, Action Research into Multiple Sclerosis, to try and get some absolute answers because we got fed up.

I mean, it strikes me—horrible thing to say, this is, but I’m gonna say it-- it strikes me that, in a lot of cases, MS is the bread ticket for a lot of so-called "societies" and, without it, they’d be out of a job. Ya know what I mean? Which makes me wonder about cancer and leukemia, Y’know? I wonder. I mean, like, I’ve seen it and I know that is the case with MS, so what’s happening with cancer and leukemia? I wonder.

DAVE:  How many of these hangers-on are preventing a cure?

LANE:  Absolutely! Preventing the cure, yeah. I mean, like, what a bread-ticket cancer is!

DAVE: Yeah, I’m sure it is for thousands of people. 

LANE: I mean, "we can’t find a cure for that! Thousands of people would be out of work! (laughter)  I mean, millions of people would be cured, but thousands of people would be out of work!"Lane w/ Boo Oldfield.  (c)1983, 1999 Dave McNarie  

I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m sounding sick, but, uh…

DAVE: Well, let’s see… Do you have some stories from the tour though? Winwood pulled out and Cocker…

LANE: Cocker took his place, yeah.

DAVE:  Did Paul Rodgers go over?

LANE:  Paul Rodgers, yeah.

DAVE: How’s he doing? 

LANE: Oh, he’s doing fine. He’s a gentleman! Yeah, he went over and helped out Jeff Beck’s set.   Did you see the show over here? O

DAVE:  No.

LANE: Because the video of the show over here is going to be on the telly… the TV, I suppose, in America. But it won’t be like the one…  It’s a pity they didn’t get a video of the ones in America, because that was so good! I mean, it really was good. The Albert Hall one was good, but… 

DAVE: Yeah, I heard you on the phone. You said you didn’t think that one was nearly as good as the stuff you did in the States.

LANE: It wasn’t. Oh, no. It wasn’t. I mean, the more it played, obviously… like any kind of band, the more it got together. And, by the time we did Madison Square Garden, it was very sharp. It really was, and I wish that had been videoed. 

DAVE: You’ve got a video coming out. Are there going to be any albums coming out or anything like this? 

LANE: No, nothing like that. You know, the politics of it all got in the way, as usual! Y’know? The same old thing! It’s bureaucracy and politics. It’s always the same.

DAVE: Yeah that’s the story. Well, how many shows did you do in the States? Was it about seven? 

LANE: I think it was nine. Let’s see. There were two in Dallas, two in San Francisco, two in LA, and two in New York. Why did I say nine? That’s eight, isn’t it? Or was it three in San Francisco? I think it was three in San Francisco. It was nine. The two in Dallas financed the tour, really. 

DAVE: So everything else was just money in the pocket.

LANE: San Francisco, LA and New York was totally for the charity. But we are definitely going to do something… use the money for MS in America. I mean, Glyn Johns, the producer of the show, was most adamant—and I agree with him-- that you can’t raise a lot of money in one country and take it over to another.  But in the long run, it doesn’t really matter who gets there first, because… If America finds it first, or England finds it first, it’s soon going to scoot across the pond. So, either country’s going to benefit from it. 

DAVE:  Eventually, yeah.

LANE: Eventually, yes, without a doubt. But I don’t think there is such a cure for MS. It is such a strange disease that I do not know how much of it is kind of… subconscious, y’know? 

DAVE: You mean that if you have a defeatist attitude, it will be worse for you… 

LANE: Absolutely! Oh, without a doubt. Yeah, if you’ve got a defeatist attitude it’ll certainly get you down. And, of course, the way the disease comes on, it’s all kind of aimed… it’s whole strategy is to make you feel like that, to make you feel defeatist. You get so weak. You get unbelievably weak! I’ve never been a strong man, but I never realized what ‘weak’ meant until I got MS, y’know? (Laughs) You haven’t even got the strength to think straight!

DAVE: I’ve had those lots of times, but I don’t think it’s the same thing.

LANE: Well, I don’t know. It all adds up to the same thing, in the end. 

DAVE: How did it effect you? Can you describe, basically, how it’s effected you from the period of time that you found out you had it, or figured that you had it. Like you say, at first it was just, basically, a numb feeling here and there? 

LANE: Yeah. A bit of double vision, a numb feeling. You kind of wonder… "I wonder what that is??" And it would go away, so you wouldn’t take much notice. So, next time it came, you’d sit it out and wait for it to go away. And then the numbness, each time it comes back it’s a little bit worse, a fraction worse. Y’know, it’s got plenty of time to work on you. It’s in no hurry to knock you down straight away. 

Another thing that I’ve found, talking to people that have it, is that they’ve all been through some kind of an emotional upheaval, like a death in the family. Or they’ve been raped. Something horrible has happened in their life, a real emotional upheaval. And then MS appears about six months later, a year later. Y’see, I don’t believe there IS a ‘cure’ for MS. I think a lot of it’s got to do with what’s up there (pointing to head).

DAVE: Mental attitude.

LANE: Mental attitude, yes. And, of course, the last thing you want to hear…The thing that people with MS are being told is, "Relax. Don’t do anything. Relax. Don’t worry." Y’know what I mean? "The wheelchair’s in the hall, and it’s awaiting you." You know what I mean? And the whole thing is crazy!  I’d say, "nuts! You forget all that! You fuck!" Like, "fuck!" Y’know what I mean? Who would let somebody push their life around, where you stop looking around like it is "somebody" doing it? Start fighting it like it is somebody doin’ it, and then I think you’ve got a chance of getting on top of it. But you don’t just let it insidiously crawl all over you, because it certainly will. Cor! 

I’ve got a long way to go yet, but I’m gonna beat this thing. I know I am. (Pause) I think I’ve got the fight I’ve always wanted!! (Laughter)

DAVE:  Go on and describe how it ceased up your body.

LANE: Oh, dear, I can’t remember that. Well, it started in my left arm and hand. I went to put a bass guitar on a song I wrote and I couldn’t do it. I thought, "That’s strange." It was really odd. It was like my arm had become a piece of dead meat that was attached to my body, y’know? It is really quite a strange disease, this one. 

DAVE: What is it? Just like the feeling when you’ve slept on it wrong and it’s all numb? What is it? Just like the feeling when you’ve slept on it wrong and it’s all numb?

LANE: Yeah! That’s it! Yeah, that’s it. And you go to lift it up or something and there’s nothing there! All of the connections… there’s no connection to it. As I said, it’s like a lump of dead meat hanging off your shoulder! It’s hard to believe that it’s happening to you, as well. It’s very hard to believe that that’s happening to you. It’s the kind of thing you’d have nightmares about, I suppose. 

That’s another thing that happens to people with MS. Of course, they won’t believe that they’ve got it. With me, I wouldn’t believe that I’d got it.

DAVE: "Oh, that couldn’t happen to me!" That sort of…

LANE: Yeah! "It’s not my kind of lifestyle, man!!" Y’know??

So I had to got through all that shit to come up to where I am now, which, I think, is a much healthier way of lookin’ at it. But, My God, I would like to get something concrete together. I would like to think that, by the time I’m finished, if someone like (I was) seven years ago has just been told that they’ve got it, they could find out a bit more about it and how to handle it. I couldn’t take it seriously, especially the attitude that I’m tellin’ you about! I couldn’t believe it was happening!

Life’s always been good to me, and I’ve always thought, "what a great world it is we live in." And, all of a sudden , krckk!, overnight it changed. You’ve got this thing, and people are telling you, "don’t worry!" (Laughs). It’s weird. It’s really weird.  Anyway, we’ll see if we can’t get to the bottom of it.

DAVE: There’s no ARMS group in the States yet? Or is it just now starting? 

LANE: It’s just now starting. 

DAVE: Do you have any other stories about what went on during the tour?

LANE: Well… Nothing really stands out. The whole tour was happy, y’know. Everybody breezed along and enjoyed each other’s company. It was magic. 

DAVE:  Did you do any playing yourself?

LANE: I didn’t do any playing. I did a couple of songs. I did "Goodnight, Irene," again at the end because Eric [Clapton] wanted me to! I did "April Fool" off of the Rough Mix album, and I could sing it better. And I found out that I’d actually got in contact with my voice again, which was a pleasant surprise. 

I bought that Gretsch guitar over there. What you think of that?Lane during his gypsy caravan days

DAVE:  I saw that. Looks like a new one.

LANE: It’s not a new one! It’s about a ’55! 

DAVE: No, it’s one I hadn’t seen before: It’s "new" in this house! 

LANE: Yeah. I got it in the States. She’s a beauty! 

DAVE: Where’d you get that? Just buy it from a store? Who’d you get it from? 

LANE: No, no, no. I don’t know where it came from because… there was a fellow on the tour called Alan Rogan, who is a roadie for the Who. I asked him, "didn’t Gretsch make a small electric guitar, something like a Gibson Les Paul, or is it my imagination?" And, he said, "Yes, they did." He said it was called… what did he say it was called? A Star… A Firebird, yeah.. He said, "Why, are you interested in one?" I said, "Well, I’d like to see one. I could be interested in one." And he went off. 

Two days later, he came in and says, "I found one. It’s called a Round Up. Would you like to see it ?" I said, "Oh, no!" So, he went and got it, and that’s it! And, I said, "that’s fantastic!" And it is. It’s just a beautiful guitar! [This story is also mentioned in Rolling Stone magazine’s cover story on Ronnie’s ARMS tour, RS413, 19 January 1984- D.M.]

DAVE:  What is that? A Chet Atkins model?

LANE: Yeah, it is a Chet Atkins model.  I wonder what’s happened to him, Chet Atkins. 

DAVE: Oh, he’s still kickin’ around. 

LANE: Is he? I haven’t heard anything about him for years. 

DAVE:  Grand Ole Opry, that sort of thing.

LANE: ‘Grand Ole Opry?’ (Laughs)


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Copyright 1983,
2003 D.C. McNarie.

Copyright 1983, 2003 D.C. McNarie.
Reproduction of any kind prohibited without the prior written consent of author.



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