39 Years Ago: The Faces Split Up
The Faces ended their short life in December of 1975. Sprouted from the ashes of the Small Faces after Steve Marriott left the group to form Humble Pie, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones recruited Ron Wood and Rod Stewart (both recently exited from the Jeff Beck Group) to comprise a true powerhouse rock and roll band.
The band would issue four top notch LPs from 1970 to 1973, all the while riding tandem with the ever growing monster of vocalist extraordinaire Rod Stewart’s solo career. The solo success of Stewart really took off with his third solo album, 1971’s ‘Every Picture Tells A Story’ and the smash hit ‘Maggie May.’ For a couple years, Rod and the band were able to keep both trains running smoothly, but inevitably, the wheels started coming off the tracks.
“We were young and foolish and nobody bothered with the details because we were all rich beyond our dreams, no one was giving a thought to the fact that it could all go tits up at some stage. And lo and behold, it all went tits up” said Stewart in his autobiography, the plainly titled ‘Rod: The Autobiography.’ “The problems were political and slow burning, and mostly arose as a result of the success I was having with my own records, which created all sorts of complicated tensions and anxieties. At first the balance between my life as a solo artist and my life in the Faces seemed blissfully simple, there didn’t seem to be any conflict between these interests. On the contrary, they rubbed along together perfectly happily.”
The cracks began to really show as founder Ronnie Lane left the band in 1973. “Nobody thought he was serious at first,” Stewart remembers. “‘I’m leaving the band’ was a group catchphrase: the stock Faces response to any disappointment or setback.” But leave he did, and as the band dealt with that blow, another soon reared its head. “In fact the thing that triggered my exit was the long expected decision of Woody to take a job with the Rolling Stones — the band, let’s face it, that he was born to be in,” said Stewart. “That, for me, was the killer blow. To lose Ronnie was bad enough, but to lose Woody as well…the jig was well and truly up.”
After finishing his first tour with the Stones in the summer of 1975, Wood rejoined the Faces for what would be their final tour in the fall of that year. “Woody found it hard to make a clean break,” Stewart adds, “For a while he thought he could work for both bands and keep everyone happy, but that was never going to be practical, and eventually, in December 1975, I conceded that was it.”
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