Advice from The Small Faces, Faces, The Who drummer
The Small Faces ( Kenney Jones - 2nd left)

As a founder of The Small Faces, drummer Kenney Jones learned the hard facts of music fast in their short but brilliant career. These are the guidelines that saw him then survive The Faces and The Who.

I grew up with kids in the East End. We were constantly storming up and down Roman Road and causing havoc, generally being horrible. It was only when I discovered drums that I didn’t want to do that anymore. I was so encapsulated in teaching myself how to play was all consuming. When my friends used to come round knocking on the door saying, ‘Coming out?’ I’d say, ‘No, sorry.’ They kept doing it and then eventually they got fed up with me because I didn’t really want to do that. I was literally hooked on my drums. And it saved me, otherwise I don’t know where I would have gone.

In those days we were brought up as kids in family environments to trust, because that was the right way to be, naturally. But when you go into any kind of business areas, especially the corrupt music industry at that time, you believe all the shit that comes out. You know, you do trust people; unfortunately that was our first big mistake.

When you have a manager his job is to manage you. So you listen to your manager. Don Arden was a great guy - he was father-like in a sense; he put his arm round you and tried to guide you, but he was taking the money and there was nothing we could do about it. He got us on all the TV programmes, radio, we got a hit record, but the money was going in Arden’s account. So get your share and put it in your own bank. Check that all the expenses are legit, and the percentages in what you’re getting. You need someone professional to negotiate your contract on your behalf and to do the best deal that they can get.

I was only fifteen and, of course, we were impressionable and experimental. The fashion in those days was you made it up as you went along and that’s what we did. We had an account in the only three shops on Carnaby Street in those days. We just mixed and matched and played around, and that’s how we created our look. All of us individually, completely by accident, because that’s what we were: young people experimenting with clothes. We weren’t only experimental with our music, but we were with our fashion. Fashion to us was a good thing - we used to like to look nice and we used to like being creative with it - that’s what a mod was all about.

You never get a perfect band; there’s always going to be some kind of ego trip that someone’s got. One thing I liked about The Who was that they invested in theirselves, and they were very businesslike when it came to doing things creative in that area. The Small Faces weren’t, because we didn’t stay together that long. If you’re a band, you don’t just spend money and piss it up the wall and drink it and drug it to death. You’ve only got one shot, you’re lucky to be in that environment and get money for doing something that you love, so just invest it wisely.

Be yourself, play yourself, and be as honest as you can be within your own creative environment. And be a part of the band and stick with it. That’s the secret. The secret to success is never give up.

Interview by Simon Harper

Deluxe editions of The Small Faces’ four classic albums for Decca and Immediate are released by Universal Music Catalogue on May 7th.

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