Kenney Jones in E7 - Now and Then!

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Kenney Jones, one- time drummer of The Small Faces, The Faces and The Who, last week returned to his east end roots and performed at the Wanstead Tap, where he discussed his autobiography, Let The Good Times Roll, with rock journalist Paolo Hewitt, in one of the Tap's great book collaborations with the Newham Bookshop. A most enjoyable evening, it was, too.

Above - the book.
Below - the signing

Kenney was born in Stepney, a couple of months after the NHS was established, and has come a long way since. His career as a rock musician, had Mod written through it, in much the same way as seaside rock has the name of the resort through it.

He  now owns  a Surrey polo club, hob-nobbing with the likes of Prince Charles on the pitch, and has swapped the Lambrettas for the  Lambourghinis.

Kenney playing polo with his new mate
Prince Charles at his Hurtwood Park
polo club, in Surrey
His story - as told in his book, and elsewhere - is a fascinating one and owes some huge debts to Forest Gate. What follows is a recollection of some of those, and a consideration of his life and times in music and beyond.

Kenney - the second "e" was added to distinguish him from other entertainers with similar names in the 60's - is a self described "Stepney Herbert", who was gripped by music in his early teens, and ventured over to Forest Gate:

Local dance clubs offered another opportunity to hear great music. At weekends we would queue for venues such as the Lotus in Forest Gate (ed: Kenny Johnson's venue - see footnote) , which initially, played dance records before it began hosting bands.

While in the area, he came across the J60 Music Bar at 445 High Street North, Manor Park - long gone (see photo below, today). It was, in Jones' words "an Aladdin's cave" and was there he bought his first drum kit, aged 13.

He soon met Stan Lane, who introduced him to his brother, the later bassist, Ronnie, and in no time Kenney was dragging his drums from Stepney to Ronnie's house, at 385 Romford Road to practice, as they began to put a band together.


Kenney links up with Ronnie Lane and starts jamming at his house,
                                     385 Romford Road

It wasn't long before the pair of them were back at the J60 to get a guitar for Ronnie (as he had switched from lead to bass) and ended up jamming in the shop with the Saturday boy, who turned out to be Steve Marriott - to the annoyance of the owner, who soon sacked Marriott for selling the bass to Lane at a cut price.


Ronnie and Kenney meet Steve Marriott (above), the Saturday boy at the J60 Music Bar (recent photo of its later reincarnation), 445 High Street North - and The Small Faces are born

Marriott had been brought up about half way between the J60 and Ronnie Lane's house, at 308  Strone Road. His dad, among other things, had a shell fish stall outside the Ruskin Arms - also on High Street North. The emerging musical trio linked up with the son of the pub's landlord - Jimmy Winston (aka Longwith) - who joined in, on keyboards, but more importantly offered practice space at the back room of the pub for the boys.


Left - 308 Strone Road, where Marriott
was brought up, right The Ruskin Arms,
where the Small Faces began practising seriously
The band gradually emerged and called themselves The Small Faces, because - well, they were all small - around 5'5" each. Winston was soon dropped and replaced by Ian McLagan - and the band took off, locally around 1965.

The opening of the Upper Cut club, on Woodgrange Road was a big occasion for Kenney Jones, both personally and professionally. He tells the story in the book:

My introduction to session work came about as a direct result of meeting Jan Osborne on 21 December 1966, following The Who's performance at the opening night of heavyweight boxer Billy Walker's The Upper Cut Club in Forest Gate, East London. My cousin, Roy, and I attended the gig, after which we met up back stage with Adrienne Posta and her friend Jan.

Jan later became his wife, for about a decade, and they had two children. Her father, Tony, also had a significant influence on the young Kenney. He was a prominent band leader of the day and taught Kenney how to read music, which became an intro for the young drummer to session music. He played this in parallel with his time with the bands. It extended his talents,  repertoire and contacts greatly - and made not a little money on the side for him.

Small Faces - Kenney Jones in front, with the
big checks - just the way he liked it!
The Small Faces were by now making a considerable name for themselves locally and nationally and made a big impact on the Upper Cut within a couple of weeks of it opening - and on a second occasion during the club's year long existence (see press cuttings for the story).


Above - adverts for the Small Faces gigs at the Upper Cut, 6 January 1967 and 8 July, the same year.  Below Stratford Express coverage of their gigs





The autobiography, itself, is Kenney's own slant on the familiar rock star tale of sex, drugs and rock and roll, complete with the touring excesses of scandalous bad boy behaviour.  All the staple elements are there: bands breaking up over "musical differences", bands being ripped off by devious managers/agents/promoters, and the double standards of rockers who toured and played away, but who objected to their WAGS staying at home and playing away.

Kenney Jones performed for the three of the biggest bands of the 60's and 70's - The Small Faces, The Faces and The Who and has lived to tell the tale.

Familiar themes recur in his story. His attitude to money - let's call it careful. His relationship with lead singers (Marriott, Stewart and Daltry) - let's call it feisty. And his attitude to authority - let's call it challenging. Perhaps they are connected and help define the man.

Kenney - far right, with The Faces
He has looked after himself. As his book tells us, and he probably had cause to remind many, he was a distant relation of the Kary twins. He is also a survivor, probably because his excesses were less extreme than many of his contemporaries. 

So, he has outlived the other members of the Small Faces (Steve Marriott died aged 44 in 1991, Ronnie Lane aged 51 in 1997 and Ian McLagan aged 69 in 2014).

Kenney in The Who, second right
and keeping close tabs on Roger Daltrey
He has also survived life as a drummer, an instrument notorious for the self-destruction of its musicians. Keith Moon, of The Who,  died aged 32 in 1978 - to be replaced by Jones. John Bonham of Led Zepplin also died aged 32, in 1980. Cozy Powell of the Jeff Beck Group, Rainbow and Black Sabbath survived until 1998, when he died, aged 51 and Mitch Mitchell who played with the Jimi Hendrix Experience and with Georgie Fame went, aged 62 in 2008.

A Faces reunion in 1993, as a fund raiser for
Ronnie Lane (with stick, in centre) suffering from MS
Kenney Jones' survivor capacity extends beyond the music industry. He is a prostate cancer survivor and a keen supporter of charities associated with it.

He has enjoyed the good life outside of music, too. A helicopter and a fleet of smart cars is never far away from his Surrey polo club, which he admits is proving a drain on his £20m net worth. This, of course,  enables him to mix within circles undreamed of in his Stepney roots. But he has never deserted or disowned them, and was happy to reminisce about his early life and times,  at the Tap.

A recent photo, with ex Faces Ronnie
Wood and Rod Stewart at a fund raiser
for Protate Cancer research, at Kenney
Jones' Guildford polo club
So - a most enjoyable night was had at the 75 people lucky enough to be there (tickets sold out within 2 hours) on an occasion put on by the great local double act of Newham Bookshop and the Wanstead Tap - the entertainment highlight of E7 - now.

Kenney (right), a man at ease talking
about his East End roots to journalist Paolo
Hewitt, at the Wanstead Tap in July 2018

Kenney - left - having a drink
 after his E7 show at the Tap

Footnotes:

1. Let The Good Times Roll, by Kenney Jones is published by Blink Publishing and retails at £20. Copies (some signed) can be obtained from Newham Bookshop - tel: , 745-747 Barking Road, or via their website: www.newhambooks.co.uk  

2. Readers of this article may be interested in the following articles on this site, featuring themes mentioned in it:

Billy Walker recalls the Upper Cut club

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