London Trip, Part 3

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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.

Dingwalls (to the left), Located on Camden Lock
Dingwalls, at Camden Lock

12 snakes dyed fer them there shoes
Take a look at the killer green shoes Mac had on.

Mac at Dingwalls right, it's Mac same guy
A  break between songs Say "Good Night!"


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 Scotland.

Kenney dropping me off at the Guildford train station

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. 

 

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