Re: Ronnie Wood interview - The Telegraph, August 20
Date: August 21, 2017 01:41
Thanks 35love for posting all that. I must have registered in the past, and am allowed one free article per week!
(The trick is to post one paragraph, then edit, and then paste the rest of the article)
Here it is in it's entirety:
Ronnie Wood steps into the room with a crackle of wiry, crow-haired warmth. There’s a wild energy to the Rolling Stones’ guitarist – in live performances, on record, and in person – and within seconds he’s showing me a shirt on a rail he likes with a sushi pattern on it, making a quick call to his son Tyrone, and then settling, like a fly, on the sofa. We’re in central London to discuss his second career, as an artist. That energy is in his paintings, too, with their expressive lines and vibrant colours. Where does it come from? “Risk,” says Wood. “I love the element of risk… all the time.”
It’s caused him some difficulties over the years, especially with alcohol, but most perilously when he got himself into trouble at the end of the Seventies with freebase cocaine, a purer form of crack cocaine, which is smoked as crystal rocks in a pipe. Wood’s illustrated timeline of his life, which is included in a new book of his artworks, notes simply, “took three years to stop”.
But that addiction was ultimately what led to Wood taking up painting – which he had studied at art college – in a more serious fashion, when he turned to it to help restore his battered finances. “The drug habit and the houses that I was living in were way beyond my means… and what I was spending on dope was far more than any houses.” Also, he notes, the Stones didn’t tour between 1982 and 1989. “You don’t get a wage, you only get paid when you work,” says Wood.
He may be the lesser-known Stone – he only joined the band in 1975, a mere 42 years ago – but one is never too far from the sound of Wood’s music. That’s Ronnie singing “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger” when Ooh La La by Faces appears in adverts and on film soundtracks; that’s him playing guitar and bass on Rod Stewart’s Maggie May; and that’s him adding the dirty raunch to Keith Richards’ riff on Start Me Up by the Stones.
Richards playing guitar is one of the subjects that Wood returns to repeatedly in his paintings. Their friendship goes back to the mid-Seventies, when Wood was recording his debut solo LP I’ve Got My Own Album To Do in the studio he had installed in the basement of the enormous Georgian house in Richmond that he bought in 1971 with his riches from his earlier career with Faces. (It’s now owned by Pete Townshend.) The house had become a locus of the A-list party scene, frequented by an ever-changing crowd that included the Beatles, the Pythons, Keith Moon, Peter Cook, Mick Jagger and David Bowie. Musicians would turn up to take part in jam sessions and play on album tracks, but some also arrived bearing gifts.
“[Producer] Gary Kellgren had just made the Bangladesh concert album with George [Harrison] and Bob [Dylan], he came over from LA with his bag of tricks, his THC” – the active component of marijuana, which can be extracted or synthesised – “everyone who came through the door had some of that for a start.” It was Wood’s first wife, Krissy, who invited Richards back there from a London club. He stayed for four months, sending home for clothes and bringing his then-girlfriend and fellow heroin addict Anita Pallenberg with him, to escape the increasingly harsh public glare of life in Chelsea.
For Wood, it was a relationship that fell into a familiar mould: Richards was a couple of years older and Wood had always been the little brother in his family. His brothers Art and Ted, 10 and eight years older than him respectively, both went to Ealing Art School and both had bands. “If they painted, I would paint and if they played music, little Ronnie would copy.”
Wood’s family had been “bargees”, water gipsies who had worked the London canals for generations. “I remember being in the cabin on my dad’s longboat on the Grand Union Canal eating condensed milk,” he says, “Some of my earliest memories are being down in that little cabin.” Recently he moved close to Little Venice. “I’ve come full circle,” he says, “back by the canal.”
One of the early works in the book, Ronnie Wood: Artist, is a lovely line drawing of his mother, Lizzie, from 1979 – “That was when my mum came to Paris. I had to pretend I had my whole family over because we drank the local pub out of Guinness, but it was just me and my mum.”
Music was always part of family life. Wood had played washboard on stage with his brothers aged 11, formed his own band, the Birds, at 15, was touring the UK and in the top 50 by 17, before joining the Jeff Beck Group. With Rod Stewart as singer, they toured the States while Wood was still a teenager.
Two years later, he and “Rod the Mod” would leave the band and form Faces with ex-members of Small Faces, and the pair would co-write hits such as Stay With Me and Cindy, Incidentally (which reached No 2 in the UK), while building up a reputation as a hard-drinking, woman-chasing party band. Wood’s book includes two beautiful, hand-drawn posters that he made for the group in the early Seventies.
There are also drawings and portraits of many of his rock contemporaries, from Jimi Hendrix, with whom he once shared a house (“He was a very soft, very caring, gentle but unfortunately stoned-out-of-his-brain person”) to Eric Clapton – “He’s really hard to draw, Eric… he’s got more or less perfect features, with his little nose, no chin.” Wood has a real talent for capturing likenesses, although he says he rarely gets the chance to have his subjects sit for him, “maybe sitting there doing the mix or playing, I’d get a quick capture”. He also adopts several styles. Some of his sketches, he says, are influenced by his admiration for Matisse. A painting of Mick Jagger, emerging from blackness, he describes as “going back to Renaissance days… Caravaggio, really… the light and the dark burnt umber and raw umber”. Some of his best works are impressionistic landscapes of Ireland, where he has a house and trains racehorses. There are also studies of ballet dancers, including Darcey Bussell and Tamara Rojo.
Large sums have been mentioned in connection with Wood’s paintings: £300,000 in one article I read, £600,000 in another. “I have sold paintings for that,” he says. “Also, they’re special to me, so if I wanted to keep it but somebody kept putting the price up, I’d be a fool to not take it.”
Then there are portraits of some of the women that have been an integral part of the rock legend, including former Vogue cover star Patti Hansen, who is married to Richards, and Wood’s second wife Jo. His face clouds when I mention her. They were together for three decades before their acrimonious divorce in 2009, after which she held an auction of their shared possessions and wrote a tell-all memoir. Despite his reputation as a womaniser, Wood concedes that his life has been defined by long relationships. “The essence of what drives you is having a strong woman in your life and it’s never been stronger in my life than I have with Sally.”
Wood married for a third time in 2012 to theatre producer Sally Humphreys. There’s an age gap of 31 years. In 2016, she gave birth to twins Gracie and Alice, who reached their first birthday two days before Ronnie’s 70th. The pregnancy is detailed in a number of affectionate portraits. How is he finding late fatherhood? “I’m loving it, these two are absolutely brilliant. They’re so humorous… and they sleep for 12 hours.” They’re also going to be accompanying Dad on the Stones’s European tour this autumn.
Wood is just getting over an operation for lung cancer, discovered by chance at a routine, pre-tour health check in May. Further tests revealed that the lesion, which was removed using key-hole surgery, hadn’t spread, so, for the time being at least, he has the all clear. “I’m just so happy to be here – get that [cancer] out, let’s get on with life. It’s like I’ve been given a new chance, so I say, yeah, let’s go, let’s start rehearsing.”
Does he think rock stars should ever retire? “No. Well, it depends which band they’re in, but we won’t.” Who should then? “No comment,” interjects his manager.
Given his history of excess, Wood is one of rock’s great survivors. Does he ever visit the dark places in his life when he paints? “It’s a bit like the blues really, you conjure up those dark places – without them you wouldn’t have enjoyable light moments.” He says the secret to his still being here is that he has a cut-off valve that lets him know that it’s time to stop or else; that says, “hang on, you don’t want to take one more of them or one more unit, it’s too much”.
That’s not quite how Keith Richards describes it. In his 2010 autobiography Life, he describes Wood as “an over-the-top man. He had no control whatsoever… Ronnie was everything to the max.” Coming from rock’s most celebrated hard-drug taker, that’s quite a character reference, isn’t it? Wood laughs and describes how he once developed a passion for a particular Italian liqueur: “I would drink whole bottles of it, bottle after bottle after bottle, and [Richards] would be going, that’s terrible for your kidneys, and I’d think, ‘Ooh, Keith is telling me off, he shouldn’t be doing that’. These days, his favourite line about me is, ‘Now you’ve straightened out and you’ve cleaned up your act, you’re exactly the same as when you were using. What a waste of 20? million quid’.”
"Rip this joint, gonna save your soul..."
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2017-08-21 01:42 by Hairball.