Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ian McLagan In Memoriam May 12, 1945-December 3, 2014

Record Collector Bordentown, NJ 2/28/09
By now everyone knows that yesterday we lost the great Ian McLagan. To anyone who was fortunate enough to have met him they will all tell you what a lovely fella he was. Truly he was one of the best. It's not often that you get to meet your heroes but it's even rarer when they turn out to be so warm and wonderful. Even better when they remember you and treat you like a friend. To say he was genuine, friendly, patient and beyond cordial is just scratching the surface. I got to see and meet him many times (even closed a pub with him once, talk about the shit you'll be able to tell your grandchildren) . I first saw him live with The Bump Band at a then local record store and met him afterwards in February of 2009 and have seen and met him at least 4 or 5 times since. Each time he was an incredibly cheerful guy to talk and our conversations were never about the Small Faces oddly but clothes, soul music and B-3 Hammond jazz.

 In October (the 16th to be exact) my wife just was driving me to to pick up my car at the end of the day and had her usual Philly rock n roll station WXPN on and who's voice should emanate from the speakers but that of Mac. He was in the studio being interviewed and it transpired that he was playing in Sellersville, Pennsylvania that very night with The Bump Band. With the gig only hours away I was on the fence if I could get home, changed, round up someone to go AND get there by showtime! But my wife prodded me (thank god for that and her) and finally convinced me that I should go. After a few phone calls I found someone willing to join me. I was helped in reaching my decision to go see him when I discovered that the show that night would include his band (my previous 3 or 4 Mac gigs were just him solo or with his bassist Jon Notarthomas). My friend Joe accompanied to the show. We ran into Jon Notarthomas on the way into the pub adjoining the theater where the gig was to be held and he remembered me from previous gigs and said that Mac would be thrilled to see me and thanked us for coming out. The Bump Band put on a stellar gig that night with Mac's purple Hammond (an instrument he'd leave home on solo tours) filling the room with soul as they did lots of Ronnie Lane's Faces/solo tracks, a Small Faces cover and a healthy dose of his own material.

My friend Joe was a bit apprehensive about meeting him as he had never met him before. I assured him he would not be cagey (as John Mayall was when we'd met him a month earlier). After the gig he was seated out front and as we approached he lit up when he saw me like we were old pals and complemented me on my seersucker jacket and began telling a story about them being the "band uniform" in The Muleskinners. I mentioned that the last time I'd seen him I presented him with the Muleskinners(his first band) E.P. on Acid Jazz to sign which he had never seen before and was somewhat riled that someone had put it out without his knowledge (later assuring me that he took no offense in my buying it as if he were to get angry at any person who bought an authorized release of his he mused "I'd have no fans"). Always the fantastic story teller he proceeded to tell me that shortly after he was in the U.K. and someone came up after a gig and presented with a stack of the E.P.'s and a check for £200 for them. He mused that it was the most he'd ever made with The Muleskinners and that it was funny that a guy in New Jersey had to clue him on on a British record. I thanked him profusely for everything, wished him well on the rest of the tour and a safe return home to Austin and told him we'd catch him the next time he came around. Yesterday even more than on that night I was glad my wife convinced me I could make it to the gig.

Joe Oshman with Mac, Sellersville Theatre, Sellersville, PA 10/16/14

I don't wish to sound maudlin or pretentious but his death has hit me hard, like losing a friend. Anyone as into his music as I am and that's met him will know what I mean. I'm not a religious guy and I don't believe in anything after this mortal coil but if the believers are right I'd hope that I'm wrong and there is a heaven or afterlife and if there is that I hope Mac is there with his wife Kim and his pal Ronnie Lane who's music
he so lovingly kept alive by playing every time I saw him.

Cheers Mac, wherever you are.


Charlie Starkey said...

Nice tribute, Bill.

Shylotus said...

Wilthomer, thank you for this. I couldn't or can't figure out why his death has wrecked me like no other artist in the past. I was hoping to meet Mac next week as my husband and I were planning to see the sound check and show in Virginia next week.
A lovely tribute. Thanks again.

The Swede said...

Everything I've read about Mac over the last 24 hours, has pointed to the fact that he was a genuinely good bloke. I saw him play a couple of times, but never had the pleasure of meeting him.
This is a lovely tribute and I'm so glad that you made it to the show in October.

Wilthomer said...

Thank you all. God bless!

Monkey said...

Lovely stuff Bill.