I Was A Faces Roadie (Part 2)

The Faces’ 1972 end-of-year tour opened in Dundee. “Why not Glasgow?” I’d asked Pete, keen for him to know I was aware of Green’s Playhouse, but he explained that the Faces had only played there in June. We travelled up to Scotland the day before the gig, Chuch and Russ, with several hours’ head start, in the equipment truck, the rest of us in a red Volvo estate. As soon as we had checked into our hotel, we went to recce the venue. That night the Caird Hall was host to the Scottish National Orchestra, so the stage was out of bounds, but we were able to explore the access. The only approach to the stage was up a flight of stone stairs. The thought of carrying the contents of a three-ton truck up and down those steps made me feel weak. But that was tomorrow.

Back at the hotel we commandeered a table for an early dinner. Andy, who had been appointed social secretary for the evening, was eyeing the waitresses, evidently wondering which of them he might ask for advice.

“Forget it,” I told him. “It’d be like asking your grandmother to recommend a night out. Unless you fancy the bingo, that is.”

He grilled the least matronly, whose tip was Tiffany’s discotheque, although she couldn’t be persuaded to join us; neither could Russ, the first victim of a flu bug that would work its way through the crew. By nine o’clock we were installed in a booth beside the dance floor, the first round of drinks on its way. A female disc jockey with cropped, blond hair and a permanent smile was playing records for the dance floor’s only occupants, a foursome who were still dressed and drunk from a wedding that must have taken place many hours before. Perhaps the 30p admission was a deterrent, but Tiffany’s midweek Dance Night was not a big draw on the first Wednesday in December.

The foursome’s taste was limited. The women liked Donny Osmond’s ‘Why’ and his brother Little Jimmy’s ‘Long Haired Lover From Liverpool’, the men Lieutenant Pigeon’s ‘Mouldy Old Dough’ and, especially, Chuck Berry’s ‘My Ding-A-Ling’, which was No 1 that week, a source of sadness rather than celebration for anyone aware of Berry’s part in creating rock’n’roll. The women sang along with Little Jimmy, the men with Chuck, their loud laughter suggesting familiarity was no deterrent to enjoying a priapic double entendre. When Andy asked me if Lieutenant Pigeon was a relative, I pointed out patiently that, unlike the bird, my name was spelled with a ‘d’, but that didn’t stop him calling me ‘Lieutenant’ instead of John for the evening, a habit, I was relieved to note, which only caught on with him.

When ‘My Ding-A-Ling’ came on for a second time, I was sent to the DJ’s podium to request an alternative.

“Have you got the O’Jays’ ‘Backstabbers’?”

The DJ must have been pleased to have something different to play, because she flashed me a broad smile and bent to find the record in the rack. When she stood up again, her cheeks were glowing.

“Anything else?”

“‘Family Affair’?”

“I like your taste.”

“Just trying to save us from that mindless ding-a-ling and those obnoxious Osmonds.” I had another thought. “‘Burlesque’?” This had been a hit for Family a few weeks before, a record with a riff as raucous as Roger Chapman’s voice.

“I thought you’d be asking for ‘Angel’.”

“Why’s that?”

“Aren’t you with Rod?”

“We’re with the Faces.”

She shrugged to suggest I was splitting hairs.

“You going?” I asked.

“I haven’t got a ticket.”

I gave her a wink. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“My name’s Lindsey.”

‘Backstabbers’ went down well, so did ‘Family Affair’, but Pete made a face and gave me a look when ‘Burlesque’ came on.

“Come on, Pete, it’s a good record.”

“It’s Family.”


“They’re on our label. The drummer’s wife works in the press office. They get preferential treatment.”

The notion that the Faces were hard done by would manifest itself again, but I noted that, despite his antagonism, Pete couldn’t resist moving to the record. One of the wedding party wasn’t a Family fan either, because he appeared to be taking issue with Lindsey’s latest selection. When she nodded towards our booth, his eyes followed hers. I didn’t want to get into a fight with a drunk Scotsman, and was relieved when he staggered back to his friends. ‘Angel’ came on, reminding me of my promise to Lindsey. I told Pete.

“Bring her back to the hotel, and I’ll see what I can sort out.”

Records gave way to a band called Grass, who played their repertoire of recent hits with the blithe disregard for context and continuity shared by all cover bands, while someone switched coloured lights on and off, occasionally in time with the music, prompting around our table what would have sounded to an eavesdropper like an earnest discussion about the dangers of witnessing visual psychedelics with unprotected eyes. I’d heard a similar response from Pete earlier in the day, when the Moody Blues’ ‘Nights In White Satin’ had come on the car radio. This reminder of the journey had me involuntarily stretching my legs, which had been pinned apart for eight hours by Pete’s driver’s seat, tilted like a deck chair so he could drive straight arm-style.

Led by Pete and Chuch, at the end of each number we stood and applauded extravagantly. The members of Grass, having acknowledged the first few of these outbursts with appreciative nods and waves, came to understand that the clapping, whooping, hollering and stamping had an ironic intent, and took to showing us V-signs instead.

When the records came on again, the wedding drunks had gone, but there were now at least a dozen dancers in their place, most of whom were female, prompting optimistic speculation that girls would be queuing up to accompany us back to the hotel. I couldn’t help wondering whether goosing passers-by and tossing ice cubes underfoot was the right way to advertise your good intentions, but what did I know? They were old hands, and this was my first night out with them. So I was surprised when Pete shook his head and speculated aloud, “Why does this always happen? We always blow it with girls by being too rowdy.” It was as if he was paraphrasing the refrain from the Faces’ ‘Too Bad’: “All we wanted to do was to socialize/Oh you know it’s a shame how we always get the blame.”

By the time Lindsey had packed up and put on her coat, there were only two other girls waiting.

“Is there really a party?” one of them asked nervously as we headed into the night.

I was in my room, talking records with Lindsey, satisfied that having been seen slipping into the lift with her was proof that I’d succeeded where the others hadn’t, when there was a knock at the door. Mike Gill’s warning was nowhere near my thoughts. As soon as I turned the handle, the door was pushed hard against me, forcing me back into the wall, where Chuch held me, his arms muscled knots where I tried to get a grip on them. I heard a snap, like a wishbone dried in the oven, then Pete pushed a wad of damp, sickly smelling tissues under my nose. Was I fighting for breath or did I breathe in hard through both nostrils because I sensed that’s what I was supposed to? Either way, I reeled back and watched, giddy, hot and expecting the back of my head to explode at any moment, as Pete and Chuch stripped the pillows, sheets and blankets from my bed and bundled them out of the window, then ran, giggling, from the room, without a hello or a goodbye or bothering to close the door. Their intrusion had had Lindsey jumping from the bed and backed against the wall, her face a horrified mask. I went to shut the door, just in time to stop Chuch reentering my room with a fire extinguisher. I locked the door and sat on the edge of the bed. I felt Lindsey’s arm across my shoulder.

“They’re your friends?”

When I walked Lindsey to her taxi, Chuch was in the foyer, ordering sandwiches from the night porter. She squeezed my arm in silent warning and quickened her step, but Chuch laughed out loud to see me.

“Better add another couple of rounds,” he told the porter. “That man looks hungry.”

We went up to Pete’s room to wait for the food. Chuch knocked, then banged on the door, but no one opened it. I heard a voice insisting, “I’ll scream. I will.” There was a pause, then a small scream. “I’ll scream louder.” And she did. The door opened and one of the girls from Tiffany’s – the other having already left, I guessed – marched between us, her eyes blazing, her fingers working the buttons on her dress.

Over sandwiches and brandy, another new word, ‘poppers’, was added to my vocabulary, which was expanding daily. That wad of tissues had been wrapped around a glass phial. The noise I’d heard had been the glass breaking as Pete snapped the phial open, and accounted, onomatopoeically, for the nickname given to amyl nitrite, a drug infrequently prescribed as a heart-starter. What I found hard to believe, given the violent intensity of the rush I’d experienced, was that amyl nitrite was legal, available over the chemist’s counter. The phial Pete had popped under my nose had come in a box of twenty-four that he’d bought from the Markham Pharmacy in the King’s Road. I wondered whether that meant there were twenty-three more to be popped.

When I left the room, some time after two, Pete was still paraphrasing ‘Too Bad’. So far, so good, I thought. I was going to fit in just fine.

*  *  *

Truant schoolgirls were already lined up in front of the Caird Hall, their absurdly early arrival explained, not by their desire to meet the Faces’ road crew, but by the venue’s ticketing policy. The seats for which they had already queued once were unnumbered, so the best would be bagged by first-comers.

Chuch backed the truck so the tail-lift would drop inches from the stage door, and we got to work. For the best part of an hour the hydraulic platform whined up and down, and the loads Chuch rolled on and we rolled off were heavy and hard to handle. The cases that contained the ‘back line’, the amps and speaker cabinets, had handles on each side, but had been fitted with the kind of castors that turned supermarket trolleys into drunken crabs; whereas the twelve monstrous PA cabinets had true wheels, but no handles, nowhere to grip, and, to make matters worse, were covered in an abrasive fabric that might have been industrial carpet, which burned when it slipped through your hands. The flight case that held the 3,500 watts of PA amplification must have weighed several hundredweight, but its bulk and the Caird Hall’s unhelpful ingress meant there was only room for two handlers, while the Hammond organ, heavier still and harder to handle, had to be manoeuvred on a ‘dolly’, a tiny, yet robust four-wheeled trolley, which, naturally, was no use on stairs. The last items out of the truck were a dozen 12’ x 6’ mirrored Perspex panels, again not the easiest on which to get a grip.

Nothing had been less than heavy or easier than awkward to move, but I’d been meticulous in taking my turn by the tail-lift and made sure I carried just as much just as quickly as anyone in the crew. Two or three times I’d wondered whether Chuch had given flight cases an unnecessarily firm shove in my direction and had once had to grab in an bruising bear hug a PA cabinet that had toppled from the raised platform, but I knew any sign of weakness would be noted and exploited. So I wasn’t going to complain or request a breather before anyone else.

The lighting rig had already been unloaded when we arrived, a separate crew hanging the floodlights and manhandling the unwieldy spots onto the balcony, where they would operate them during the show. A brutal torrent of banter and abuse ping-ponged unendingly between the two crews, but no one had time to stop and laugh.

Pete ran a tight ship. Although no one in the audience that night would complain that the music wasn’t loud enough or the lights less than brilliant, every item of sound and lighting equipment and every instrument (apart from a Steinway grand piano, provided by a local firm) had emerged from the back of two three-ton trucks. Within a few years some bands would measure their stature by the size of their fleet of articulated trucks and the headcount of the crew who offloaded and operated their contents. ELP’s crew in 1977 would number more than a hundred; less than five years before, setting up for one of the biggest bands in Britain, we were eleven.

The mirrored floor was laid on the stage, the back line erected like a wall behind, the PA cabinets stacked like giant nursery bricks left and right of the stage front. The rostrum – ‘riser’, I added to my roadie’s dictionary – that Kenney Jones’ drum kit sat on was erected in the middle of the back, Ian McLagan’s Hammond stage left, his hired nine-foot Steinway nosing into the wings. The organ came with a special speaker cabinet – a ‘Leslie’, named after its inventor apparently – which contained the rotating horns that provided the instrument’s characteristic vibrato. Once this cabinet had been positioned in the wings and microphones aimed at the sound holes, the entire structure was covered with the padded jacket that protected the organ in transit and several extra blankets. Seen in woodland, rather than beside a stage, it would have looked like a hermit’s hideaway. Pete pointed a finger at it.

“During the gig, Mac’s Leslie’s going to be your responsibility. You’ll stand this side of the stage and make sure nobody comes near it. It’s incredibly sensitive to noise and movement. Bit like Mac, really.”

I nodded apprehensively.

“Right, let’s you and me get the mixing desk up into the balcony.”

Which we did, wedging the console between the backs of the front seats and the railed parapet, before uncoiling the ‘snake’, a fat, multi-core cable which would link the audio channels in the desk on the balcony to the PA system on stage and which we hung, using the ubiquitous gaffer’s tape, more or less out of the audience’s reach. Then, while Pete put his ear to every PA speaker in turn, seemingly immune to the thunderous level to which he had cranked Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You, I got down on my hands and knees and whistled along to the Crystals’ ‘Santa Claus was Coming To Town’ and the Ronettes’ ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’, while I scrubbed and polished the mirrored panels. When I’d finished, the floor was covered over, to safeguard the shine from foot traffic and to keep it concealed until the Faces were about to appear. Stumble, the opening act, would have to perform on top of the tarpaulin. Pete saw me trying to smooth the creases from its rumpled surface.

“Fuck that,” he advised. “It’s only the support band.”

I sensed a break was imminent, but I was wrong, and was handed a roll of kitchen foil and told to wrap the five monitor speakers lined up along the front of the stage. I did a tidy job, but couldn’t help wondering just how far from the stage you would have to sit for the monitors to look like burnished silver, rather than gargantuan wrapped snacks.

Breakfast was a long time ago, but eventually two of the truant schoolgirls were recruited from the queue outside to buy filled rolls for our lunch. The promoter turned up with a case of beer, and I took my cue to sit down. As I chewed a cheese roll, I looked round. To my inexperienced eyes the stage looked ready for the show. Between now and the gig there would be time to go back to the hotel for a shower and a change of clothes. A break would also allow me to make some notes about the day’s events, then clear my head to concentrate on the gig review for NME. But when Stumble turned up to sound-check, these plans were put on hold.

As each instrument was plugged in and turned on, a new buzz or drone began, and when any of the musicians approached a microphone, feedback shrieked through the auditorium like sonic lightning. I quickly became aware that my colleagues in the crew were less trained professionals than enthusiastic amateurs, their knowledge acquired not from books, but from previous crises confronted, past problems solved. If every day of these roadies’ career had been trouble-free, my guess was they would have been none the wiser, but luckily there had been many other days like this one. Their method, if that’s an appropriate word for such a haphazard routine, was as follows. The likeliest source of an unwanted hum was a faulty lead, so the scapegoat cable was swapped for another one, which, it occurred to me, could also have been faulty. If the noise persisted, the plug at each end of the lead was dismantled and its connections re-soldered, whether they were loose or not. Stumble’s roadie kept repeating, “It’s the first gig… it’s the first gig… it’s the first gig…” as if he were trying to remind himself that everything would be all right by the second show.

Nothing improved, tempers deteriorated, until eventually Pete reached the point in his own diagnostic check-list where he examined the power supply, and ascertained instantly that the Caird Hall’s in-house electrician had run the stage power and the lighting through the same circuit, triggering an earth loop. The fault was corrected in less than a minute. No hum, no buzzes, no more painful feedback. It was as if a time bomb had been diffused with seconds showing on the counter. Frowns and scowls were shed, shoulders straightened, grins were shared. In his relief, Andy gave voice to his now dissipated fears.

“That’s our gig, man,” he explained unnecessarily. “If the band came on stage and there was all that buzzing, they’d…” – he shook his spaniel mane, unable to express the outcome, so I completed his unfinished sentence in my head – “…realise how incompetent we are?”

Pete took a different view. “See what happens when you book the drummer’s brother-in-law as support act?” he observed, the moment Stumble had left the stage. I didn’t have time to ask him what he meant before the doors at the back of the auditorium opened and several hundred screaming teens stampeded for the front row.

Although there was nothing for me to do during Stumble’s set, I hung around my side of the stage, practising how and where I was going to stand, eyeing the Leslie cabinet as watchfully as if it were the prize exhibit in a museum and I its curator. Pete, Chuch and Russ were in one of the dressing rooms, changing into their stage outfits, so I couldn’t ask them for any last minute tips. I felt absurdly apprehensive, the way I did before an important football match, and found myself going through the same kind of stretching and loosening routines I would before I left the changing room. Relax, I told myself, everything’s under control.

The last number was followed by the muted applause that always sends support acts on their way and another of those frenzied burst of activity that punctuate the roadie’s day, as we spirited Stumble’s equipment from the stage. Then, like Wimbledon ground staff after a rain break, we hauled the tarpaulin from the floor, the sight of the mirrored surface as the lights hit it releasing as audible an expression of anticipation from the crowd as the removal of Centre Court’s covers. That hubbub intensified as a single mic stand – constructed from the lightest alloy, so Rod could toss and twirl it like a drum major’s baton – was set centre stage. Chuch stopped banging tuneless chords on the piano, so Andy could recite the roadie’s “One-two… two-two…” litany into Rod’s gold microphone, while Pete set the level on his mixing desk.

I hadn’t met John Barnes, but knew it must be him, when a man with neatly parted hair that gleamed from a recent wash, a dark suit and tie, and a nimbus of aftershave, began to set up a makeshift cocktail bar a few feet from me. I watched as he pulled an array of bottles from two attaché cases and half a dozen glasses from a cardboard box, and lined them up, together with an ice bucket and tongs, on the top of a flight case. Barnes, whose father Cyril was Rod’s personal chauffeur, ran a limo hire firm, but on this tour he was acting as the Faces’ personal assistant: valet, guide, confidant, pourer of drinks, and more. At all times he exuded an air of unflustered efficiency as redolent as his scent.

It was when the house lights went down and Chuch propped Ron Wood’s guitars on a pair of stands that the clamour of anticipation rose to a howl. I pressed myself against the wall, willing myself invisible, as a circle of light bobbed across the floor from the backstage stairs towards my feet. Barnes was also pointer of the Faces’ flashlight. The group paused momentarily in front of me, oblivious to my presence, before bounding into a burst of light and a barrage of screams. I watched the fans who’d queued all day for this moment jump in unison from their seats, faces flushed, eyes bright, arms outstretched, fingers clawing at the space that separated them from their idols, as if the gesture would drag them closer. I realised I was grinning the way they were and, like them, singing along with the opening number, ‘Too Bad’.

When several girls managed to clamber from their front row seats onto the stage, stewards rushed from the wings and tipped them back where they’d come from. Then the stewards refused to leave the stage. As Rod signalled for calm, and Lane, McLagan and Wood circled the singer’s mic, repeating the chorus – “All we wanted to do was to socialize/Oh you know it’s a shame how we always get the blame” – Chuch shoved the stewards, like reluctant skydivers, one by one from the stage, cheered on by the audience. The last of them, looking for a way to avoid the same happening to him, glanced my way and edged back between the curtains, taking up a spread legs, arms crossed bouncer’s stance immediately in front of the Leslie cabinet. This was bad news. Worse still, I realised that while I’d been watching what was happening on stage, a group of people had emerged from the backstage area and were now encircling the other side of the cabinet. From the way they were dressed and the drinks they were holding, I guessed they’d come from the dressing room area. My hunch was confirmed when I recognised one of them as Maggie Bell, a Glaswegian singer with a voice that could split rock, who had duetted with Rod on the title track of Every Picture Tells A Story. That meant they had to be guests of the band, so, presumably, had been told they could watch the show from there. I could hardly ask them to move. And yet Pete had said…

This internal monologue continued as the opening number ended, but stopped abruptly when Mac raced over, his face like thunder, and began pulling people away from his Leslie. He might have ignored me at rehearsals, but he knew who I was, because now he was drilling me with the deadliest look.

“What the fuck are these people doing all over my fucking Leslie?” he yelled. “Get them the fuck out of here.”

“I’m going nowhere, son.”

The man with a crooked nose and steward’s badge was only a few inches taller than the keyboard player, but the height difference seemed to disappear altogether as Mac spun to face him, his chest swelling inside his silk shirt.

“Fuck off!” he screamed, spittle flying. Then he skewered me with another look. “Get rid of them. Now.”

Nice meeting you, Mac. He might have been small, and his stage outfit improbably gaudy for a man picking a fight, but the steward was sufficiently disconcerted by his encounter with this wild-eyed fiend for me to hustle him through the door that led to the auditorium. When I turned back to confront the trickier issue of the band’s guests, they were already behind me, heading for the same exit, hands raised apologetically, faces sagging with shock.

“Didn’t mean to land you in it,” one of them said.

“Sorry,” I shrugged, adding regretfully, “If it was up to me…”

After the initial pandemonium, the show settled into a mood of joyful chaos, like a crowd scene from a Marx Brothers film. Christmas had come early to Dundee, and tonight was party night. The band provided the music and invented their own games, running races across the stage, playing hide-and-seek with each other, and musical chairs with Mac’s piano stool, and inevitably – a-tishoo, a-tishoo – they all fell down.

It was nearly ten years since I’d stood in the cramped back room of a Windsor pub, swaying, bouncing, sweating in a crush of proto-Stones fans, as we chorused “Bye… bye… bye… bye…” with Mick Jagger, one hand circling above our head like his, fingers waving farewell to Johnny B. Goode, but, through the intervening years, I had not come across an audience that followed their leader so slavishly, worshipfully, mesmerically, as this one. When Rod swayed, the entire Caird Hall congregation swayed. When he held a tartan scarf that had been thrown to him above his head, so did they. When he put his hands together, they clapped too. And every time he opened his mouth to sing, three thousand voices joined in harmony.

They all knew the familiar favourites, but many had already memorised the songs on Never A Dull Moment and were able to match his phrasing, note for note, on the previously unperformed ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’. When Ron Wood sketched the opening chords of ‘Angel’, a roar of delight erupted, not that self-congratulatory yes-we-know-this-one applause of recognition, but a spontaneous expression of joy: their moment had come, and they were going to make the most of it. More than once the singer appeared genuinely overwhelmed by the audience’s response, his voice trailing away as he conducted the choir with his arms spread wide and a broad grin beneath his nose or sank to the floor with a disbelieving shake of his head.

Although a crescendoing performance of ‘Twisting The Night Away’ should have sucked the last drop of energy from the Faces and their followers, the tattoo of stamping feet demanding an encore shook the building’s floor and walls. Rod returned first to the stage, juggling a plastic football on his thigh before booting it high into the balcony. Another ball was bounced to him, which he trapped, flicked up with a deft roll of his foot, and aimed into the rear stalls. A curly-haired promotion man from the band’s record company had a sackful of them, each stamped with the name of the Faces’ next single, ‘Cindy Incidentally’, the one entirely unfamiliar number they’d played that night. He bounced more balls across the stage as the other Faces emerged, but, lacking the singer’s consummate ball control, they swung their legs like kids who would never make the team. Rod was still going through his moves when the others launched into ‘Losing You’.

A ragged, valedictory chorus of ‘One Last Sweet Cheerio’, sung acappella, arms looped around each other’s shoulders, glasses raised in salute to the audience, then they were gone, and it was time to load out. Once the crowd had drifted to the exits, the damage done to the front rows of seats was impossible to ignore, and the silent apoplexy of the hall manager prompted pass-it-on nudges and suppressed sniggers among the crew. Like an automaton whose clockwork was running down, he would slowly stoop, pick up a piece of splintered frame or a handful of ragged upholstery and horsehair, then let it fall from his fingers into the ankle-deep debris that had been rows A, B and C.

Anxious that Pete shouldn’t hear about my incompetent policing of the Leslie from Mac, I positioned myself near the tour manager, counting on an opportunity to get my version of the problem in first. Luckily he asked me to help him with the mixer. When there were just the two of us on the balcony, I quickly explained what had happened, highlighting my dilemma over Maggie Bell and the other guests.

“Bastards,” he said, though he said it affably and without specifying who the bastards were. Then, “They’re always doing that. People’ll be backstage before the show and they’ll ask where they can watch from. Nine times out of ten the band’ll say, ‘Side of the stage,’ fully aware that everyone in the crew knows that’s not going to happen. So these people expecting VIP treatment get shoved out front with the punters and come backstage at the end of the gig, bellyaching about how badly they’ve been treated. While the band are tut-tutting and apologising for the roadie’s lack of respect, they’re giving a wink to whoever it was did it.” He concluded, “Who the fuck wants to watch a show from the side of the stage anyway? I mix the sound to be heard out front, not in the wings.” A pause, while he unhooked the snake. “They look happy.” He drew my attention to the hall manager, who had been joined by two dour men in overcoats. “Local Watch Committee, I reckon. Somehow I don’t think the Faces will be playing Dundee again.”

The load-out took a lot less time than the load-in, but it was another two hours before we were back at the hotel, where I was dispatched to the band’s hospitality suite to find out what free drink was left. Only Rod was there with John Barnes and Mike Gill, and the atmosphere was subdued. As I surreptitiously pocketed bottles of beer, I eavesdropped.

On Saturday, a night off for the Faces, a production of The Who’s Tommy with an orchestra and guest singers was being staged at the Rainbow Theatre, and Rod had been invited to repeat his performance of ‘Pinball Wizard’ from the recent all-star orchestral recording. Although it was now past midnight on Thursday, he still hadn’t committed, and it sounded as if he needed to be persuaded. Feeling uncomfortable and in the way, and clinking like a shoplifter in an off-licence, I aimed a silent hello-goodbye gesture at Mike Gill, and left.

Rod’s eleventh-hour prevarication notwithstanding, the conversation I’d overheard hadn’t seemed especially significant. He would be appearing as the Local Lad for one night only, and that a night when the Faces had their feet up, but the significance, missed by me at the time, was that with every solo outing, every new success as Rod Stewart, rather than the Faces’ singer, one more nail was banged into their coffin.

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