Let the Good Times Roll: My Life in Small Faces, Faces, and The Who by Kenney Jones (BOOK REVIEW)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play in a band with Pete Townshend or Rod Stewart or Steve Marriott? Well, drummer Kenney Jones did and he spends 345 pages telling you about those heady days when rock & roll was gaining momentum towards being one of the greatest forms of music in the world.

“I have sat down on many occasions over the years intending to write this book but it never seemed to be quite the right moment,” Jones explains in the acknowledgments of his memoir, Let The Good Times Roll. Getting close to his seventh decade of life, Jones seems to have finally found that moment and he sashays through many episodes of rock & roll history like a good long-winded storyteller. From his days with Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane in the Small Faces, with Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and Ian McLagan in the Faces, and finally a whirlwind decade in one of the biggest bands in the world, The Who, Jones provides a readable documentary that you get hooked on quickly.

Jones spends a good deal of time sharing his memories of being in the Small Faces. In fact, it takes up the bulk of the memoir. But it’s where he grew into an accomplished musician, met many of rock’s superstars, became quite a star himself and just savored the life he was living. For a boy who grew up in a rather poor neighborhood in London, playing in a band was good stuff; even though it took him a while to move out of his parents’ house because he, well, liked it there.

But Jones the drummer has tales and that is no doubt the reason you’ll pick up his book – a way to live vicariously through his words. He was there when a young mate named David Jones got up onstage to play with the Small Faces but their music was too different and the lad followed his own unique path into becoming David Bowie. Jones was there when the Rolling Stones song, “It’s Only Rock & Roll,” was born in the studio of Wood’s house, The Wick. He was there when Keith Moon wanted him to come back and drink with them but Jones wanted to sleep instead – so Moon stuck a hose under his door to wake him to make sure he didn’t want another drink. He was managed by the Stones’ Andrew Loog Oldham and Sharon Osborne’s notorious father, Don Arden; he worked with legendary producer Glyn Johns and played on albums with Paul Rodgers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Joan Armatrading and the Stones.

It’s all good jolly fun and it’s almost a surprise to learn that Jones has quite the sense of humor. Former Foreigner bassist Rick Wills mentioned in a recent interview with Glide that, “He has a great sense of humor, trust me. I’ve known Kenney a very long time and he’s got one of the best sense of humors ever. He’s extremely funny.” In his book, Jones recounts an automobile accident the two bandmates (Wills had replaced a departing Ronnie Lane) had one evening where they ended up in hospital.

But Jones seems most happy when he is walking down memory lane back at the beginning of his journey, when he was a wee boy running around his neighborhood, getting into scraps and other forms of boyhood trouble. Although he recalls his youth as being, “one of bricks, motor vehicles and pungent smells,” it was the drums that brought out the magic within the poverty. Later on, his passion would also turn to polo, but that’s another story in the latter part of the book.

Jones’ book is not full of the seamy side of the sex, drugs & rock & roll that some published memoirs can be (Carmine Appice’s comes to mind), but it captures his rock & roll ride: A good guy having good fun.

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