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The Passing Show - The Life & Music of Ronnie Lane
The Passing Show - The Life Music of Ronnie Lane
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
NR     2006     1hr 47min

This brilliant musical documentary tells the story of Ronnie Lane from his heyday with first the Small Faces and then the Faces, through the sixties and seventies, his experiments with a rural life and the touring music...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Pop, Rock & Roll, Documentary
Studio: Eagle Rock Ent
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 11/07/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 47min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
Edition: Import
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

Movie Reviews

A masterpiece.......
Led Hed | 09/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Passing Show:
The Life and Music of Ronnie Lane

105 min Documentary for Theatrical Film Release and Worldwide DVD
60min version for TV

Ronnie Lane

Ronnie Lane was an innocent who saw through status, pretension and hype. He turned his back on his massive material success, and all the commercialism of the music business, and went chasing ideals. He had more than his fair share of disasters, but until his final illness, he shook them off and started again.

Even when he was a superstar, Ronnie had the nerve to recruit musicians around the pubs, choosing them because he liked their attitude - not because of their reputations or even their skill. With this approach he brought all sorts of diverse influences together, and is recognised as a powerful creative force. His music spanned Pop, Soul, Rock, Country and Folk. Ronnie always played for the sheer joy of entertaining people, whether he had an audience of 12 or 12,000, but he also wrote some of the most heartfelt and haunting songs of his time.

Nowadays more than ever we need reminding of how to throw off the shackles of cynicism and materialism. We need Ronnie's example of living life as if it was a Passing Show - valuing people we meet for who they are not what we can get from them, enjoying giving more than receiving, and not taking ourselves too seriously.

Ronnie Lane's Story

Ronnie Lane started life as the archetypal East End urchin who became a pop star at 17. He formed the Small Faces and with Steve Marriott started one of the great songwriting partnerships of the 60's. Ronnie then became the chief songwriter and co-lead vocalist of the Faces, arguably the best live band of the Seventies.

At the height of their fame, the "dapper" Lane left the Faces, metamorphosed into a gypsy troubadour, and acquired a second hand circus tent and its fleet of ancient vehicles. He led his troupe of hippy musicians, runaways, clowns and acrobats on a ramshackle tour of the English and Scottish counties. Called The Passing Show - it was a bold move, and although culturally successful, was a financial disaster. Moving to a hill farm on the Welsh borders, Ronnie licked his wounds and recruited a talented group of multi-instrumentalists. Not expecting financial success, he called them 'Slim Chance' and recorded a series of low key but critically acclaimed albums in his barn.

During this time, curious members of the Rock and Roll `A' list such as Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend would pay extended visits to see what their old friend was up to. Enjoying the anonymity, they found that Ronnie had been quickly accepted by the locals and the farm had become the centre of a vibrant cultural scene. The music adapted as well, with Lane increasingly influenced by Romany Gypsy culture, writing songs that were vignettes of country life and the characters around him. Eric Clapton says this time with Ronnie was a huge influence on his own songwriting.

Although respected by musicians young and old, Ronnie wasn't hitting the charts in the era of punk. The ever loyal Pete Townshend suggested they realise a long held ambition to record an album together. Ronnie was able to recruit an extraordinary cast of musicians to the project including Eric Clapton, Ian Stewart, Charlie Watts and the legendary producer Glyn Johns.
The resulting album, Rough Mix, still stands up as a classic rock record.

By the mid-Seventies, Ronnie was showing early signs of Multiple Sclerosis. As a child, he had witnessed his mother's decline from the same disease. His health began a twenty-year roller-coaster of decline and improvement, which effectively ended Ronnie's career as a player although it was far from the end of his story. In 1983 a stellar line up of musicians lead by Johns and Clapton got together and performed the ARMS (Action for Research into Multiple Sclerosis) concerts. Originally conceived as a fund raiser for Ronnie's medical bills, it was typical of the man that he insisted the money went to MS Research instead.

He found his next home at the heart of the music community in Austin, Texas. He continued to write songs, and when he was well, he played gigs and radio shows with local musicians, often making brief but entertaining stage appearances when his old mates, like Ron Wood, passed through town.

He finally passed away in 1997 in a small town on the New Mexico-Colorado border.

Clearly, Ronnie was no saint - although he appears to have been loved by nearly everybody he came into contact with and managed to both delight and exasperate most in equal measure. As a musician, he continues to be hugely influential with several of his timeless songs now firmly established as part of our musical heritage.

About the film:

Rupert Williams and James Mackie have made this film as a labour of love over about five years. Although we were working in one of the technical departments of the BBC, we were not recognized as program makers, so we had to work as independents in our own time. Eventually we managed to convince the BBC Music Department that we were doing something very special, and we completed the film as a co-production with the BBC.

The film is an affectionate portrait of Ronnie, which spares no blushes about his faults. The core of the film is our interviews with Ronnie's friends, family and colleagues, plus Ronnie's own voice, edited from radio and TV interviews. Every single contributor knew Ronnie well. We've also taken great care to keep the interviews relaxed and natural, filming outdoors in rural locations as much as we can. We have filmed by the River Thames, in the Welsh borders, in Ireland, Texas and Colorado.

We have found plenty of never-seen-before archive footage of the Small Faces, the Faces and Slim Chance, including performances from Swedish and German TV, News footage from the 1970's, and a moving recording of one of Ronnie's last performances when he was very ill. We have also had access to wonderful collections of still photographs, particularly those taken by Russ Schlagbaum on the Passing Show tour.

The short BBC version of the film was shown on BBC4 (cable and satellite only) in the UK on January 6, 2006 and was one of the most watched documentaries in the history of BBC4.

The longer Theatrical Movie Version had its World Premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2006 at the Austin Convention Center, as well as several other film festivals in 2006, as well as other theatrical runs and will be released on Worldwide DVD in late October 2006.


The film includes interviews with:

Ronnie himself - US TV interview 1987 and Radio interviews 1973 and 1986

Stan Lane (his elder brother)

Ron Chimes (school friend and member of Ronnie's first band the Outcasts)

Ian McLagan (Small Faces and Faces Keyboards, always remained close and played with Ronnie throughout his career)

Kenney Jones (Small Faces and Faces Drummer, knew Ronnie since childhood in the East End)

Sue Tacker (Lane) (Ronnie's first wife)

Glyn Johns (Legendary producer - produced Small Faces , Faces, Stones, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Clash etc, etc)

Billy Nicholls (long time friend, label mate and collaborator at Immediate records and other projects)

Bruce Rowland (Drummer for Slim Chance and the Passing Show. Co-produced albums with Ronnie, formerly of the Grease Band, played at Woodstock)

Henry McCullough (Guitarist Slim Chance, formerly of the Grease Band, Wings)

Pete Townshend (Long term close friend and fellow devotee of Meher Baba, co-wrote Rough Mix album with Ronnie)

Eric Clapton (Guitarist: regular visitor to the farm, played on Rough Mix album, toured with Ronnie, played ARMS concert, along with Townshend godfather to Ronnie's sons)

Kevin Westlake (Slim Chance guitarist, co-wrote How Come and other songs, sadly recently deceased)

Billy Livesey (Slim Chance Keyboard player)

Captain Peter Hill (Legendary lion-tamer, tent-master, mechanical genius and scourge of traffic cops)

Lana Lane(Ronnie's step-daughter, lived at the farm in Wales)

Graham Lyle (Songwriter for Tina Turner, Michael Jackson etc. Played with Ronnie in Slim Chance)

Charlie Hart (Slim Chance violin, accordion, piano etc)

Steve Simpson (Slim Chance guitars, violin, mandolin, etc)

Russell Schlagbaum (Friend, and road manager of The Faces, The Passing Show, Rolling Stones)

Mark Bowman - (Ronnie's close friend during his Texas years)

Bucks Burnett - (Ronnie's butler/close friend during his Texas years)

Larry Hysinger - (Ronnie's Attorney in Houston)

Susan Gallegos - (Ronnie's American widow)

Jody Denberg-(Austin DJ , close friend and Best Man at Ronnie's 3RD wedding)

JoRae and Theresa DiMenno (Ronnie's caretakers and close friends during his Austin years)

Joe Ely (Texan musician and friend. Musically influenced by Ronnie to this day)

JD Foster (Austin Musician)

Rich Brotherton (Austin Musician)
Finally! A moving tribute and introduction
Sherry Chiger | New Rochelle, NY USA | 01/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Those of us who have long felt that Ronnie Lane has yet to receive his due have cause for celebration with the release of The Passing Show. The documentary offers little-seen footage of Lane from his days with the Small Faces, the Faces, and Slim Chance, along with some wonderfully evocative interviews with friends and colleagues. If the film isn't as thorough and complete as one would have liked (why do several friends, including Eric Clapton, comment that he was a "pain in the arse"? why is there little mention of One for the Road and no mention of See Me? what led to the dissolution of his second marriage? what sort of relationship did he have with his children?), that just leaves room for additional documentaries and books, which are hopefully forthcoming. Until then, The Passing Show serves as a moving testament to the man's character and talent as well as a tasty introduction for music fans who have yet to be exposed to his work."
Unsung Rock N Roll Hero Finally Sung!
jumpin' jack | philly, pa. u.s.a | 01/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is not just a typical story of rock and roll excess, nor is it a pious homage to yet another dead musician. This an inspiring exploration of a very complex individual struggling to balance his starring role as an amazing songwriter/musician in two of the most famous, and influential bands of our time, The Small Faces and The Faces, with his deeply felt spiritual aspirations (as a follower of Avatar Meher Baba).In the film, Ronnie Lane is portrayed first and foremost as a human being who courageously (foolishly) commits commercial careericide by following his heart to leave fame and fortune to travel around the countryside in a caravan playing the music he heard in his head... only to wind up in a valiant battle with multiple schlerosis. Throughout, Lane's talent, sincerity, humanity, courage, and importance prove as moving as the music itself.Perhaps a video compilation of some complete musical performances will follow? I hope..."
"Life Is A Passing Show"
Daniel Eglesia | 11/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ronnie Lane's life and music is well represented on this DVD. It is very informative and entertaining with beautiful photography of the Welsh countryside and some very intimate live performances. The transistion from Small Faces to Faces to Slim Chance is well represented and a 1987 interview with Ronnie, which is used throughout the show, brings it all to life. There are also insightful commentaries by Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton and members of Slim Chance which capture the impact Ronnie Lane had on them, as Ronnie sought a life of making music outside the typical restrictions of the music industry. I gave this DVD five stars because that is the highest rating possible, but for anyone who appreciates the music and memory of Ronnie Lane there's no limit of stars!"