How much rehearsal time was allocated to the band before they
started playing live?
Can’t remember that far back. I remember us kinda rehearsing at the
Ruskin Arms. Rather than call it rehearsing we were actually just
discovering ourselves. We just loved each other and were excited about
playing together. It was quite electric really we didn’t need a lot of
rehearsing we had this telepathic thing. We just knew what each other
were going to do. Strange eh! Even when we started recording I don’t
ever remember actually learning the songs. Steve and Ronnie would come
up with a chord sequence and away we’d go. It was never a jam session
all the songs were arranged it was so incredibly easy.
you remember if there were any songs in the set that were never recorded
by the band?
I remember Jump Back and Oo Poo Pah Do. But we were only doing 20
minute sets back then not like later on. We played a lot of our own
favourite songs in the studio when we were just jamming.
Do you remember the very first paid gig?
Before the Cavern in Leicester Square I remember a little youth club in
Forest Gate, I think it was Saint Katherines. It was right near where
Ronnie was living at the time on the Romford Road.
After the first hit you became tagged with a teeny bop image. What did
you make of that after all you started out as a raucous R & B band.
Well we had no control over it, because we were all the same size and
dressed as Mods it just took off. The mod thing wasn’t a gimmick it
was us. At first we thought it was a bit of all right but after a while
all the screaming girls got us down, we couldn’t hear ourselves play on
stage. A lot of that got in the way, it was very annoying. We were
plagued right from the beginning with managerial problems. We had our
own ideas of what we wanted to do but we were pointed in the direction of
commerciality. Because we were always doing TV shows we just dug
ourselves in deeper and deeper. When we joined Immediate we took on a
different direction, we had matured by then. The sound got tighter and
for me personally I was really enjoying it and my drumming became very
distinctive. The early Decca stuff was just wild but by the Immediate
days I had been doing sessions and stuff and I discovered the real me.
I just adored the Tin Soldier, Green Circles era. I am just
re-discovering it now I’m back to playing a four drum kit just as I did
then. It was my eldest son who remarked that the double bass drum set-up
that I played later on with the Who was now old hat. Even when I
played Zak’s kit at the Steve Marriott Memorial gig I disposed with one of
his tom toms and lowered the cymbal. I do play a lot, lot better with
are your feelings in retrospect of Don Arden and Andrew Oldham. What
positive things did they do for the band?
Well Don Arden I always thought was a necessary evil. His side kick
Pat Meehan came to see us at the Cavern Club in the West End and told us
he thought we had something special and invited us to Don Arden’s office
in Carnaby Street the next day. When we met Don Arden we were
impressed, he managed the Animals and the Nashville Teens and he was like
a bit teddy bear really, a father figure I suppose. He told us he’d put
us on a percentage and a wage. He was very enthusiastic and made us
feel real good about ourselves. It was Don who was responsible for
Jimmy Winston’s departure. Jimmy was always trying to overshadow Steve
on live gigs. While Steve was doing his bit Jimmy would be in the
background waving his hands and whatever and because he was that much
taller and that much older he stuck out like a sore thumb. After Jimmy
had departed it left a big gap we desperately needed a good keyboard
player and that was where Mac comes in. The first rehearsal with Mac
was like heaven. From a drumming point of view it was magic we were
sounding just like Booker T & The M G’s! The fact that he was the same
size as us was just a coincidence. In some ways it would have been
better if we had all been different sizes. Mac was superb, we used to
call him posh because he was from Hounslow not the East End. With
Andrew Oldham we got lots of studio time. I remember Immediate would
pay 50% and we would pay 50%. With freedom in the studio we were
allowed to relax and experiment. The Small Faces were never afraid to
Which moments with The Small Faces bring the biggest smile to your face.
Anything in particular?
Dunno really! Just being with them, Westmoreland Terrace and all
that. Very brotherly relationship. We were just a bunch of piss
takers really but we all helped one another.
didn’t the Small Faces tour the USA on the strength of the hit single
Ask Mac! Mac had a previous drug offence and therefore we couldn’t get
a permit. It did slow us down in a sense. The Small Faces did
actually go to America, we didn’t perform but we landed on US soil on the
way back from Australia. We got fogged in and had to land in Honolulu
and then got diverted to San Francisco. It was still foggy and we ended
up staying the night in a hotel. No immigration, no passport control,
no customs……nothing. They put us on a bus and we went to a Holiday Inn
between the airport and city centre. My first impressions of America
were when I turned on a TV in my room and they were showing that now
famous clip of a Vietnamese Soldier being shot in the head, blood
everywhere. Got back on the plane and came home. I arrived home from
that Australian trip with Australian crabs they were upside down ones
retrospect do you think the band could have gone on a bit longer and if so
what direction do you think it would have taken?
I wish we had been a little bit more grown up at the time. If we had
have played Ogdens’ live it would have boosted our confidence so much.
We were labelled as a pop band, which definitely got up Steve’s nose more
than we realised. I wish we had been more like The Who in the fact that
when they have problems they stick together until they’ve overcome
them. Steve just thought well how do we top Ogdens’ and he was off.
Ogdens’ was a masterpiece if we had played it live we would have gone to
even greater things. I reckon we were on the verge of crossing the
great divide and becoming a heavier band.
What are your favourite Small Faces singles
I really like the second single “I Got Mine”, very Who like although that
was not intended. We wrote this single ourselves and it bombed. I
remember Don Arden telling us he was getting in Kenny Lynch and Mort
Schuman to write the next single as he couldn’t afford another flop. I
remember we recorded the follow up “Sha La La La Lee” at Decca in West
Hampstead. I also remember Kenny Lynch saying to me “Never play
anything you can’t mime to!” I felt sick when he said that. After
that single we started writing our own stuff again and thank God it was
successful. Another single I loved was “If You Think Your Groovy” that
was us, with PP. Favourite album well, that’s got to be Ogdens’.
The Faces. The ultimate kicking band. Mac was once quoted as saying
that the Small Faces were simply the apprenticeship and that the Faces
were the real thing. Do you also think along those lines?
Not at all. Mac would do because he wasn’t a founder member. The best
band and most creative one was the Small Faces. I still listen to the
Small Faces to this day and it always brings a smile to my face and now
I’ve become a Small Faces fan. I look at it from the outside looking
in. The Faces were fun, a party band. We all loved it but it wasn’t
creative. There were no really great songs. We could have done a lot
more if had pulled together more as songwriters.
Towards the end the band were being billed as Rod Stewart and The Faces
did this anger yourself and the other guys?
To be honest it did get up everyone’s nose. It was Billy Gaffs (our
manager) idea with Rod’s support. It was within Rod’s power to curb it
a lot more, but he didn’t. What we were doing effectively was going
around plugging Rod’s solo records so we became almost a backing band.
All the best songs were saved for Rod’s solo albums so the Faces suffered
in that respect. If the band including Rod had pulled together we could
have come up with some fantastic stuff.
What is your favourite Faces album and why?
I like “First Step”. The album features a definite link between The
Small Faces and the Faces. I wouldn’t say it was necessarily my
favourite--- in fact I haven’t really got a favourite Faces album.
They’re all very much in the same mould.
What are your thoughts on the Small Faces
reformation in the late 70’s?
It was great when Ronnie was there. I regret it to this day, if Ronnie
had stayed it would have been okay to a degree. If only Ronnie and Steve
hadn’t argued so much. Marriott had become super cocky, he’d always
been cocky but he was piss taking all the time and going through a
spitting stage. I think he was a bit insecure at the time, don’t know
why maybe it was because his hair was falling out, yeah let’s put it down
did you come to join the Who and how did you feel about replacing possibly
the most flamboyant drummer in Rock & Roll, Keith Moon?
Keith Moon was irreplaceable. I went into the Who with that in
mind. I had been doing a lot of session work and then I got a call from
Bill Curbishly, the Who manager, he told me that following Keith’s death
the band was going to pack it in but they had, had a change of heart and
wanted to continue and wanted me to join the band and nobody else would be
considered. At the time I had put a new band together which was very
much in the Eagles mould and I was very happy with it. But anyway I
decided to go the office to meet Pete Townshend. We had a drink and a
good old laugh and Pete told me that the band wanted to try new things and
he also told me that he felt Moonie had been holding them back.
Although everyone was devastated at Keith’s demise they now had the chance
to do something different. My ears pricked up. They said that The
Who and Small Faces had been through a lot together and I’d done a lot of
work with Pete anyway. They put it in such a way that I really couldn’t
say no. I then learnt their repertoire which was much more complex than
I had first thought. This gave me even more admiration for Keith
Moon. I wasn’t gonna change my style for anyone and when I did join the
band the whole sound got tightened up. Perhaps a little bit too
tight! As I got to know the numbers I feel that I did loosen up a bit.
How many world tours did you do with The Who
and how many albums?
Loads. Working with the Who was the hardest I had ever worked drummer
wise. Some of the concerts would go on for three hours. I became
super fit and I loved it. I certainly loved working with John and
Pete. I don’t think the band fully understood how I was dropped in at
the deep end. They should have come to my aid a bit more. No one
could replace Moony there is no better drummer, not even Zak whom I taught
how to play. With Zak, Moony was his mentor and he plays pretty much
exactly the same, which is not particularly what Pete wanted. I have no
regrets what so ever about playing with the Who, they were great years.
your departure from the Who down to personal or musical differences or a
combination of both?
I don’t think Daltrey ever got used to the new Who. I always had a
problem with Daltrey. I think Daltrey missed Keith a lot more than John
and Pete. Daltry became intolerable and eventually the band split in
1982 although we got back together for Live Aid a few years afterwards.
have you been doing since then? And can you tell me about your current
After Live Aid I got together with Paul Rodgers, which was just the two of
us. The idea was to bring in different musicians at different times.
We were called The Law and we made two very good albums but then we
decided to knock it on the head because Paul didn’t want to tour. That
ended in 1992.
Then my Polo Club got bigger and because it is in my back garden I tended
to play more and more. My sons were also playing, one of them has been
playing since he was three. Any little bit of spare time I have I would
jump on a horse and play polo. The club developed itself really its now
THE premier polo club in the country. We hold various charity games
here and one thing and another. It’s a polo and country club with a
licensed restaurant that is open to the public.
With regards to the Ogdens’ animation project. I have been working with
a couple of guys from Liverpool. They are about the same age as me and
massive fans of the Small Faces. At first I was totally against
computer animation but I realise now I’ve got to tow the line and that’s
how is has to be. We are still working on a story line and how it
develops all depends on who we use to be in the film. Pete Townshends’
on standby to write a couple of songs for it. We’re currently looking
at the Small Faces back catalogue and may well use some of those songs in
the story if we feel that they fit. Completion of the project is still
eighteen months to two years away but it will definitely happen.
Nice records were originally set up as a charitable fund for Ronnie in
1995 and The Small Faces tribute album achieved success in that
direction. I thought, back then, I can’t stop at that and now is the
time to re-establish the label and it will be styled along the lines of
Immediate. Immediate was a very good label apart from the fact that
they didn’t pay you. I’m doing a charity record at the moment called
“It’s All About The Children” I’m doing this with my new band and it will
feature on Nice Records.
I am very passionate about my own Small Faces charity. It’s Small Faces
for Small Faces, a children’s charity. I am not interested in
particular charities for particular illnesses. All a child knows is I’m
not well can you help me? It’s for mental, physical,
underprivileged…just about anybody who needs help whatever. It’s an
all children’s charity we’ll give to any needy child. The new charity
record features not only my new band but also Paul Young and Ronnie
The new band consists of Gary Grainger, Boz and Robert Hart. Robert was
the vocalist who took over from Paul Rodgers in Bad Company. This guy
can really sing why the world has never heard of him I really don’t
know. We used the charity single as a means to start working a lot more
together so it’s effectively my new band. We’ll being doing gigs,
albums the lot. The only thing we haven’t got is a name. Maybe
Wapping Wharf readers can come up with something.
THANKS KENNEY FOR YOUR TIME AND GOOD LUCK WITH BOTH THE CHARITY AND THE