When he handled keyboards in Rod Stewart's band, Ian McLagan refused to play "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy." He would stand behind his organ with his arms crossed, as Stewart pranced around to the disco beat.
"It's an insult to the mentality of any musician," said McLagan. "Plus it's just a rip-off of 'Miss You,' which I also played on."
Of course, McLagan was no ordinary hired hand in Stewart's band. He was a member of the British rock group Small Faces long before Stewart joined and the name was shortened to the Faces, so Stewart probably could have expected that kind of insubordination.
McLagan -- known as "Mac" is one of the great journeymen of British rock. The pint-sized 59-year-old lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife of 27 years, Kim. Each has a grown child from previous marriages and his stepdaughter has made him a grandfather.
Back home, McLagan's Bump Band play happy hour every Thursday night at the Lucky Lounge in Austin.
He takes his turn driving the band's van. He humps his own gear, although he swears he is through lifting the organ when he turns 60 in May. "Singers," he said. "Rod never even carried a microphone." His band's new album, "Rise and Shine," his fifth solo album, is an agreeable slice of barroom rock. Bassist Mark Andes played with '60s rockers Spirit and guitarist "Scrappy" Jud Newcomb is one of the sparkplugs of the Austin music scene who belongs to a half dozen different bands.
McLagan is a long way from the Champagne, caviar and cocaine circuit he once traveled as a member of one of rock's most beloved party bands. But he's been on the scene from the very beginning, when he was an art school student and musician who used to crowd into tiny clubs to see a new blues band called the Rolling Stones in west London, where he grew up.
"I couldn't believe they were kinda my age," he said. "But they were white and they were from England. They were London boys. Everybody in the front row, we'd all get as close as we could, were all band members going 'we could do this ... maybe we could do this.' "
McLagan joined the Small Faces in 1965, a recording outfit with impeccable Mod credentials, long well-established with more than a dozen hits on the English charts when Rod Stewart joined as vocalist in 1969.
The band broke up in 1975, after Stewart recorded several successful solo albums and the band's billing changed to Rod Stewart and the Faces, and guitarist Ronnie Wood joined the Rolling Stones. McLagan got the word reading the newspaper.
He recorded and toured with the Stones and belonged to Keith Richards' solo excursion, the New Barbarians. Back in the States, he put together the first Bump Band to back his first solo album. He moved to Los Angeles and fell in with bad company.
"Too many drugs," he said. "I gave up music and then I found out it wasn't music I gave up, it was the useless friends and the drugs. As soon as I figured that out, I wrote like four or five songs within a couple of weeks. I thought, wait a minute, I didn't give up music, it was those a-- I was playing with. The next thing, I got a call from Dylan's people and I was touring with him in a week."
He doesn't see many of his old mates much, but he's clearly a happy man.
"We played in the same city sometime last summer," he said about his former bandmate Stewart. "He played the Verizon megaplex thing and I played a bar. I got in touch with his people. I said here's my cell number. If you fancy coming down after the show just for a drink, it'd be great to see you. I kinda knew he wouldn't make it because I know how he tours. He'd go straight from the stage, to the limousine to the jet, back to Dallas. So he didn't make it by.
"After awhile I told the audience that a pal was probably going to call me. He's playing up the road. They knew who I was talking about. I didn't name names. After awhile I put my cell phone on top of the piano. After every song, I'd look at it. Eventually I'd stop songs in the middle, 'I think it rang. ' But he never did, God bless him. He had better things to do. The strange thing is before the show I always like to have clean hands and clean teeth. I like to feel clean onstage. So I went in the toilet to brush my teeth and I realized the mirror was so high, I mean, I'm short, but you'd have to be Kareem Abdul Jabbar to get to this mirror. I stood on the toilet, one leg on the stall and one leg on the toilet and brushed my teeth and made myself look good. I suddenly thought this is absolutely funny because here I am in this pisshole, trying to get myself ready, while Rod is at the Verizon.
"I just laughed out loud. I said 'I wouldn't change a f -- ing thing.' This is what I do. It's a pisshole, but what a great crowd. What a great night I had."
San Francisco Chronicle