London Trip, Part 3
I ran into John Hellier and his wife the following evening at Mac's Dingwalls gig.
Also present were Kenney Jones, Boz Burrell (of Bad Company-- it was his band, Boz
and the Boz People, that Mac was in just prior to being asked to join Small Faces), Sid
Griffin, a table full of Rod wannabes, a table full of Tetsu wannabes, and one helluva
lotta normal fans. The place was utterly packed.
I also ran into Martin Payne, whose fantastic Small Faces website, Room for Ravers, is where my
interviews with Ronnie Lane debuted in print.
Mac's gig was a knockout, filled with material from the Small Faces, Faces, and his
solo albums. Much of the material came from his top-notch recent album, Best of British,
and it was great to finally hear those songs in the greatest setting imaginable- live at
Dingwalls, at Camden Lock
Take a look at the killer green shoes Mac had on.
Two days later I spent four hours on the Tube and Britrail taking a trip that should've
lasted only 90 minutes. Eventually, an hour late, I made it out to Kenney Jones' place,
the Hurtwood Park Polo Club. Started on a whim by Kenney some ten years ago, the
club has snowballed into one of the top polo facilities in all of Europe. I
interviewed Kenney for over two hours in the rustic barn that serves as Hurtwood Park's
clubhouse and restaurant. Dating to the 18th century, with some of the timbers
recycled from medieval days, the barn had been dismantled from its original location and
stored by an antique specialist. Kenney purchased it a few years back and, over a
period of eighteen months, had it meticulously rebuilt and restored on his property.
After the interview, Kenney took me to his studio, set in a building near
his home. It's filled with equipment, including the upright organ Ronnie Lane had at
Boo's flat when I interviewed him in '83. Also stored in the back room is Kenney's
original kit from the Small Faces with, as Kenney pointed out, the same skins as when he
recorded Ogden's Nut Gone Flake. Next to that comparatively tiny kit stands
the remains of his gargantuan set from his days with the Who. Definitely considered
overkill in this studio environment, Kenney has scavenged his current, considerably more
modest kit from that behemoth.
As you will read when the full interview with Kenney comes online, he basically quit
drumming in the nineties. In the aftermath of his tumultuous days with the Who,
Kenney was left with such a bad taste in his mouth that he lost interest in the one thing
he also attributes to saving his life when he was a child: drumming. Much of that
blame can legitimately be placed at the feet of Roger Daltrey who, to this day,
unjustifiably slags Kenney in the press.
It is now uniformly forgotten that, due to his tragic decline, Keith Moon was to get the
boot from the Who after the recording of Who Are You, to be kept on only as a
spokesman and default court jester for the band. Keith simply died before the plan
was put into effect (much less before the plan became public knowledge), and Kenney was
left with the unenviable and impossible task of replacing him. In fact, after
Keith's death, the surviving members of the band refused to consider anyone other than
Kenney, an offer he initially turned down cold. Also, by the time Kenney was in the
band, Pete Townshend was blatantly keeping his strongest material for solo albums.
Throw into the mix, quite literally, the genuinely horrible idea of using Eagles
producer, Bill Szymczyk, and it's surprising the first Who album Kenney appears on, 1981's
Face Dances, is as solid as it is. So, why does Roger uniformly blame Kenney
for the decline of the Who? That day at Hurtwood I asked Kenney why, if Roger hated
his drumming so much, Daltrey chose him to drum on his solo album of the era, McVicar?
"I rest my case," came Kenney's reply. "At the end of the day,
I don't want to be remembered as a member of the Who, but as a Face."
Only recently has Kenney found the desire to begin drumming again. He's done a few
sessions, but he's mostly jamming and rehearsing with friends that live nearby, as well as
friends from far away. The evening before Mac's gig, I called Kenney on his cell
phone and interrupted a jam he was having with, among others, Boz Burrell, now living in
After giving me the tour of Hurtwood Park and his studio, Kenney took me back to
the railway station in Guildford. On the way, he pointed out friends who live in the
area. "Eric Clapton lives over there." "Ringo moved there a couple
years ago." Nice neighborhood.
Oh, for you Who nuts, listen to the better part of the
Quad film soundtrack. Kenney left his mark there, yet all gapers
think of Moon. Hilarious, Kenney was Who well before Keith passed.
And Kenney was the brave bastard that gave Keith's kit to the current kit
commander, Ringo's boy. Kenney knew that a deal had been struck, so
took it as a personal mission to deliver Keith Moon's archived kit
directly to the Starkey that replaced him in the Who. Big
shoes. Big fucking shoes.