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Ronnie Wood

A veteran of classic Brit-rock icons The JEFF BECK GROUP, The FACES and The ROLLING STONES, guitarist and bassist Ronnie, or Ron to his friends (born Ronald David Wood, 1st June 1947 in Hillingdon, London) is another well-loved character in a long-line of stalwart superstar players for all er… parties. To further complement Ron’s bulging CV, his pre-halcyon days were spent in small outfits The Birds (on a couple of mid-60s singles) and The CREATION (although the latter was an all-too brief stint in ’67); his brother Art Wood was behind pop-rock rivals The ARTWOODS.
On his work with The JEFF BECK GROUP (two late 60s sets `Truth’ and `Beck-Ola’) and The FACES (who were about to evolve from the SMALL FACES), there was a sense of camaraderie amongst him and his enigmatic frontman ROD STEWART. For the first half of the 70s, The FACES coveted the hearts of a rock nation by releasing a handful of top sets, namely `First Step’ (1970), `Long Player’ (1971), `A Nod Is As Good As A Wink… To A Blind Horse’ (1971) and `Ooh La La’ (1973) – and who could forget greatest hits `Stay With Me’, `Cindy Incidentally’ and `Pool Hall Richard’.
But with Rod The Mod’s career taking off ten-fold, The FACES had turn their back on these heady times and split in other directions. First out of the traps was RON WOOD (as he was then billed) and his irreverent but poignant solo album, I’VE GOT MY OWN ALBUM TO DO (1974) {*7}. Augmented by FACES pal Ian McLagan (on keys), Willie Weeks (bass) and Keith Richards (guitar), there was the usual amiable bump’n’grinds, while alongside five WOOD-penned tunes (`Far East Man’ with GEORGE HARRISON included), a couple of cuts were lifted out of the Jagger-Richards repertoire.
Produced (and at times co-scribed) by BOBBY WOMACK, sophomore set NOW LOOK (1975) {*6} continued WOOD’s formulaic approach, with the exception of a couple of outsider songs from the soulful Ann Peebles (`I Can’t Stand The Rain’) and bluegrass fiddler Gib Guilbeau (`Big Bayou’). Together with a collaborative set with old mucker RONNIE LANE on a set (MAHONEY’S LAST STAND {*6}) that looked earmarked for a film score (by all intents and purposes), 1976 would be the year that heralded a new look RONNIE WOOD as a member of The ROLLING STONES; `Black And Blue’ didn’t exactly set the world alight but it did prove to be one that gave the band a new purpose to carry on as `Love You Live’ (1977) and `Some Girls’ (1978) would testify.
Ron combined his work as a Stone and a solo artist, releasing fourth album GIMME SOME NECK (1979) {*7} while his newfound band were finding some “Emotional Rescue”. Showcasing nearly all the Stones (bar WYMAN), plus DAVE MASON and Mick Fleetwood in the guest list, the album was well-received in some quarters, featuring as it did a take of DYLAN’s `Seven Days’ and Jerry Lynn Williams little-known blues dirge `Worry No More’. Around the same period, the New Barbarians (from out of the First Barbarians) were a project instigated by WOOD, RICHARDS and McLagan. plus STANLEY CLARKE (bass), Bobby Keys (sax) and Ziggy Modeliste (drums); the previously formed First Barbarians had a slightly varying line-up; ROD STEWART was a guest. 1981’s 1234 {*4} – album number five – was sub-par to Ronnie’s high standards, although there was the usual alumni of stars on show through McLagan, Nicky Hopkins, Bobby Keys, BOBBY WOMACK (again!), CHARLIE WATTS and DEVO’s drummer Alan Myers.
Not withstanding a low-key Japanese-only effort with BO DIDDLEY (LIVE AT THE RITZ (1988) {*4}), little was heard of WOOD on the solo front at least until 1992’s SLIDE ON THIS {*5}; fellow Stone, WATTS, plus McLagan, singer Bernard Fowler, Simon Kirke, Chuck Leavell, Joe Elliot and The Edge would breathe a bit of fresh vibe into songs such as `Testify’ and `Somebody Else Might’; the need for concert piece SLIDE ON LIVE: PLUGGED IN AND STANDING (1993) {*5} was an album too far.
LIVE AND ECLECTIC (2000) {*5} was yet another extracurricular solo outing, the vaults raided as far back as 1992 and 1993 for what was basically period-piece compilation. NOT FOR BEGINNERS (2001) {*3} was his self-indulgent return to the studio, regurgitating the likes of Holland-Dozier-Holland’s `Leaving Here’, DYLAN’s `King Of Kings’ and a disastrous attempt at The BYRDS’ `Rock’n’Roll Star’ was completely out of tune and sync with the day’s market.
In keeping with the rock’n’rolling Stones high-octane, parties, booze and drugs binges, wrinkled Ronnie boy was no exception, and following on from BILL WYMAN’s young female foibles at the turn of the 90s, rehab Ron (now an OAP) would also find solace in the arms of a young lady (Ekaterina Ivanova) , although his second wife Jo (of nearly 25 years) was less than enthusiastic when she was granted a divorce towards the end of 2009; further troubles were duly encountered when he was arrested over a domestic assault which led to Ivanova and he splitting.
But he was still a ROLLING STONE at heart (gathering moss and the odd model girlfriend), as his much-improved, star-studded comeback set I FEEL LIKE PLAYING (2010) {*5} proved; WOMACK, ZZ TOP’s Billy Gibbons, McLagan, Jim Keltner, SLASH and The RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS’ Flea made for a listenable experience.
From then on in Ronnie split his time between Stones commitments and his eponymous radio show; not forgetting attending snooker frames of another Ronnie legend: O’Sullivan. No one quite expected another set from WOOD, so after a “local” recording made in Dorset in November 2018 that went down a treat, the guitarist – and his Wild Five (including pianist Ben Waters and singer Imelda May) – paid homage to his R&B idol under the mantle of MAD LAD: A LIVE TRIBUTE TO CHUCK BERRY (2019) {*6}. Not at all bad in the scheme of things, the UK Top 50 album ran through all the usual suspects (`Wee Wee Hours’, `Johnny B Goode’ et at), plus a self-penned opening title track and a cover of BIG MACEO MERRIWEATHER’s `Worried Life Blues’.
© MCS 1994-Dec2011-Dec2019

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