STORIES

CHARLIE HART

“Ronnie was a dedicated prankster. When I was quite new to the band and suitably green, we were visiting a town somewhere up North. “I'll meet you in the Horse and Trouser at 2 o'clock” said our Ron. When I eventually tracked him down to the Golden Lion, he took great delight in hearing the details of my unsuccessful quest for what was, when you thought about it, the ridiculous and impossibly named “Horse and Trouser”.

Right from the beginning, I realised that Ronnie's approach to recording was highly idiosyncratic. Not for him the carefully controlled back-track recorded in sterile conditions followed by a succession of boring overdub sessions. Right in the middle of recording Fats Waller's “I’m Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” the back legs on the ageing grand piano at Stargrove collapsed. Did this stop our using it? No way! Much to our hilarity Ruan managed to play the whole piece at some incredibly bizarre - and backbreaking angle. That was the take.”

STEVE SIMPSON

“So, there I was, sitting in on fiddle with a bunch of friends who were playing a gig at The Barmy Arms, opposite Eel Pie Island, Twickenham, when a little guy in a green velvet drape jacket stepped up for a chat. He said he was making a record and asked whether I'd like to play on it.

This guy turned out to be Ronnie Lane, who then loaded up his pockets with several bottles of Barley wine and led me off to Wick Cottage, where he played me a rough of 'How Come' and introduced me to Kate and one week old Luke.

A few days later I found myself in Olympic Studios, putting down a fiddle part in front of Glyn Johns and I'm still not sure whether they used it!

That was just the beginning.......”

ALUN DAVIES

“Ronnie and I were near neighbours during the seventies, right on the Wales/Shropshire border, a dozen steep fields apart. He relished telling me I was "over the hill" and he wasn't far wrong. Cat Stevens was making his way towards a monastery, I was putting a new roof on my farmhouse and Ronnie was tending to his sheep. Like many of the local farmers he seemed to spend much of his day either in The Tuns or The Miners. We bumped into each other a lot.

But there were plenty of afternoons spent at Fishpool when we would sit on kitchen chairs outside the front door surveying the wagons that had straggled home heroically from the Passing Show and we'd get the guitars out. Eventually, these moments turned into songs.

Late one night, at my place, Ronnie walked outside to relieve himself and tripped over his outsize boots in the dark. He came back into the room cursing, minus his gold front tooth. Despite much searching it was never found again. A piece of Ronnie embedded in a Welsh hillside.”

STEVE BINGHAM

“It was in 1974 that I received a call from former Joe Cocker drummer Bruce Rowland who invited me to meet Ronnie Lane at his farm in the Welsh borders with a view to joining the band Slim Chance. I was amazed to arrive in the middle of nowhere to find Ronnie and his family happily living amongst dogs, cats, chickens and ducks, in a small cottage surrounded by old barns with a fantastic mobile recording studio parked outside!

After a good session at the local pub we piled into his barn and began playing along to some of Ronnie's songs which went on to become the classic "Anymore for Anymore" album. I asked Ronnie where I could stay and he showed me to an old caravan with no heating, no facilities whatsoever and a leaking roof! That was the start of my stay at Fishpool Farm and whenever I hear that album I remember playing those wonderful songs surrounded by brilliant musicians, the odd wandering chicken and thinking this would take some beating for the most unusual setting an album has ever been recorded in!

The most amazing experience with Ronnie was, however, yet to come! We travelled the country with a huge circus tent, dancing girls, clowns and fire eaters under the banner of "Ronnie Lane's Passing Show"! It is now steeped in music folklore and I could easily write a book about my experiences on that tour!”

COLIN DAVEY

“There was I with my fiancee walking up the Immediate Records big staircase in Gloucester Place when Ronnie Lane comes walking down, sees me, tells me “Kenny Jones is leaving to do sessions because Steve Marriot has left and would I take his place”, so we met for dinner with our ladies. I said yes, of course, but Kenny stayed so I stayed with Chris Farlowe.

On my first visit to Fishpool, it was like being in a wonderland. I slept in an old bus, we had no water to wash (heatwave 1975) but we made 'One For The Road' which includes 'Burnin' Summer' and we drank the Three Tuns dry. And we did it all for love and Ronnie - not money.”