Remembering Keyboardist Ian McLagan: 1945-2014

Ian McLagan, Donal McCoy, Jon Notarthomas at Tin Angel, Phila PA
L to R: Ian McLagan, Donal McCoy, Jon Notarthomas at Tin Angel, Phila PA

Ian McLagan and Bobby Keys, two of the Rolling Stones finest sidemen, passed away this week (Keys, age 70, died from a liver ailment; McLagan, age 69, died from a stroke). Each man had his signatures: Keys, a raw, honking sax sound, McLagan, a soulful piano stride and a Hammond organ’s hum. While I had seen and heard both men on numerous occasions, the last time I saw both McLagan and Keys was 24 hours apart from each other in June of 2013 when the Stones played Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center and McLagan played the intimate Tin Angel.

I didn’t get close enough to Keys to speak to him last June. But McLagan? My friends and I sat front row center and listened to him talk in a richly accented burr about his time in the Small Faces and the Faces as if he were an old pal (he believed that Rod Stewart and Ron Wood had to wait for a Faces reunion until the Small Faces did so first). McLagan and bassist Jon Notarthomas played boogie-woogie solo hits (“I’m Hot, You’re Cool”) and Faces songs (“You’re So Rude”). When it was all over, he headed for the merch table and hung out with his fans for hours. Such a sweet man. Such a lovely memory.

Photo ©A.D. Amorosi 2013

Posted on Wednesday, December 3, 2014