From the beginning...
Kenney tells “I taught myself how to play the drums at 13 after looking for a kit in the East End and was hooked. I’d heard about a Jazz band that played every Friday night at a local Club just up the road and so I would go religiously to watch them play. I soon noticed that the drummer had a nasty habit of blinking when he played, which was pretty unnerving. After about the third week of going, he came over to me and asked, ‘Why do you keep winking at me? You takin’ the piss or somethin’?’ Taken aback, I said, ‘I’m not taking the piss, but I’ll tell you why you think I’m winking – it’s because you do.’ This guy was adamant that he didn’t and we just sort of started talking from there really.
Then I went back the following week and this twitching drummer was on stage and he announced: ‘Ladies and gents, we’ve got a special guest here tonight, a young drummer who’s going to come up and play.’ I didn’t think it was me until he called my name. Then the whole room filled up with water – you know that nervous feeling – and I got behind the drum kit and it was: ‘One, two, three, four’ and we were into it.”
“These guys, who I’d never played with before, all seemed like giants to me and it was all in slow motion. I was only approaching 14 and I was in the pub trying to look like I was old enough to be in there and everyone knew I wasn’t. Afterwards I was so elated – you know having just survived it, and the barman came over to me and said, ‘That was great, are you in a band?’ He said his brother was learning the guitar and that he’d bring him in next week.
So the following Friday I got there a little earlier, to check him out, and sure enough in walks Ronnie Lane, looking like one of The Beatles before The Beatles – it was incredible and we hit it off straight away. We formed a band called The Outcasts and it sort of snowballed from there.”
“Eventually Ronnie said that he no longer wanted to play guitar, he wanted to play bass, so I recommended we both went back to the shop where we’d got our kit and try to find someone to advise us. We went up there on a Saturday morning where this brash, loud, over-helpful guy gave us a bass and I set up the drum kit, and this guy, who had a part-time job there, started playing the guitar with us. He was Steve Marriott.”
“We invited him to our gig that night and he brought the house down, smashed the piano up and the rest of the band wouldn’t talk to us for the rest of the evening. We got thrown out of this pub, literally, at Tower Bridge. We sat on the curb on my drum cases and stuff, looked at each other and burst out laughing – that was the birth of group.”
“The name came about soon after as we were doing lots of gigs, but didn’t really have a name. Steve used to go to a smart school, so knew a bit of the smart Kensington lot and this one night we went back to this young lady’s Mews flat. She was terribly posh and kept telling us we really must have a name and started bandying suggestions at us. She then said, ‘I know, you’ve all got small faces why not that?’ We looked at each other and hated it and totally took the piss, but the more we took the piss, the more it stuck so… that was it!”
The Small Faces were heavily influenced by American rhythm and blues. The group was founded by Kenney, Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, and Jimmy Winston, although by 1966 Winston was replaced by Ian McLagan as the band's keyboardist. The band is remembered as one of the most acclaimed and influential mod groups of the 1960’s, with memorable hit songs such as ‘Itchycoo Park’, ‘Lazy Sunday’, ‘All or Nothing’, ‘Tin Soldier’ and with their concept album ‘Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake’.
Despite the fact they were together just four years in their original incarnation, the Small Faces’ music output from the mid to late sixties remains among the most acclaimed British mod and psychedelic music of that era. In 1996, the Small Faces were belatedly awarded the Ivor Novello outstanding contribution to British music “lifetime achievement” award. And in 2012 the band was inducted into the prestigious Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.
After the Small Faces disbanded, three of the members were joined by Ronnie Wood, as guitarist and Rod Stewart, as their lead vocalist, both from the Jeff Beck group, and the new line-up was renamed the Faces.