Jimmy Winston was the original keyboardist in Small Faces, playing on their 1965 singles Whatcha Gonna Do About It and I’ve Got Mine, and contributing to their 1966 self-titled debut album. After leaving the group, he helmed Jimmy Winston And His Reflections before they morphed into Winston’s Fumbs. He was also part of the original London cast of Hair and still plays guitar today.
How did you first meet Steve Marriott?
My parents ran The Ruskin Arms in East Ham. I used to get up and sing with the three-piece band that played there. One night Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane came in. Steve asked if he could play some harmonica; we did a bluesy thing. Afterwards we got talking, we went back to my house in Stratford, got out my guitars. By morning the band was formed.
What were those early days like?
Most nights we’d be at my house, getting merry, writing songs, listening to music: records by Ray Charles, Eddie Cochran, Nina Simone, Bobby Bland, Marvin Gaye. Charlie Mingus’ Oh Yeah was a favourite, as was Jimmy Smith’s Walk On The Wild Side and Tamla. BB King, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker were also influences.
You played a Vox Continental in Small Faces, didn’t you?
Yes, and most of the things I played were fill-ins, improvisations; a bit bluesy and, luckily, a bit repetitive.* E Too D* to get us going on stage could last 20 minutes. You could just keep going and someone would make a mistake and the mistake led you into something.
You made Whatcha Gonna Do About It with Glyn Johns.
[Small Faces’ manager] Don Arden put us with him and we recorded it at Olympic Studios with Glyn and Ian Samwell, who had written the song. It sounds like Solomon Burke’s Everybody Needs Somebody To Love and I still play it acoustically. Glyn Johns engineered it and we produced it. Originally Steve did this feedback break with the tremolo arm, but Don didn’t like it.
After Small Faces, you went on to form the Reflections.
They were great. We did Sorry She’s Mine – it was a good version. Then the Reflections metamorphosed into Winston’s Fumbs and we did *Real Crazy Apartment *on RCA in 1967. We supported Johnny Hallyday in Paris, did a big show with The Animals. That was a lot of fun.
Small Faces – The Decca Years box set is out now via Universal.