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Ronnie Wood: ‘The Rolling Stones have a special link to Ireland’
Posted by: Cristiano Radtke ()
Date: March 16, 2018 16:54

This is a nice interview with Ronnie, which I thought it deserves its own thread before it got lost on the "Dublin travel and show info" thread, posted by spunky.

The guitarist tells Jennifer O’Brien about his lucky break with cancer, his love of Kildare and the Rolling Stones concert at Croke Park

Jennifer O’Brien, Ireland Arts Correspondent

March 16 2018, 12:01am, The Times

Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger performing with the Rolling Stones in 2017

Ronnie Wood is a man who knows his luck is in. A smoker for 50 years, he’s bouncing back after a cancer diagnosis and an operation to remove part of his lung last year. The cancer hasn’t spread.

At 70 years old and with five decades of a rock’n’roll lifestyle behind him, not to mention one-year-old twins at home, you could forgive Wood if he were feeling lethargic. On the contrary, the Rolling Stones have got their first headline gig in Ireland for 11 years and Wood is buzzing.

“I’m feeling brand new, I feel like I’ve been given a second chance and I’m so grateful,” he says. “It has been over two years since I smoked. It’s amazing to be lucky enough to have the cancer removed from my left lung. It had gone nowhere else in my body, so I am so grateful for that. The doctors said to me, ‘While we took that out, we also took the emphysema out,’ so now I have a brand-new set of lungs like a non-smoker. It’s incredible. I’m a lucky, lucky man.”

Wood, from Hillingdon in west London, is often referred to as the glue that has kept the Rolling Stones together. Now a backgammon-playing painter, father of six and grandfather, his hell-raising days, which included numerous stints in rehab, seem to be behind him.

The Rolling Stones have recently announced the next leg of their No Filter tour and on May 17, subject to licence, Wood, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts will step out in front of 80,000 Irish fans, hungry for their return. The prospect of an open-air gig at Ireland’s national stadium in Dublin isn’t lost on Wood, a man long familiar with this sod, having owned Sandymount House in Co Kildare since the 1990s.

“I would like to say that coming to Dublin was all my work . . . but you have got all my enthusiasm anyway,” he says of the Croke Park date. “I’m really looking forward to it and I know that all of the boys in the band are looking forward to it, and our sidemen; they all have a special link to Ireland and a special love for it.”

Bands can often become complacent, he says, especially after years of hits and tours, but Wood enjoys striving for musical perfection as much as he did in his twenties. The tour has already grossed more than €130 million (£115 million) in front of 755,000 people and he’s keen that followers are rewarded for parting with their cash.

“We are always balancing on that tightrope, on the edge,” he says of taking to the stage. “I say, ‘Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.’ For me, that kind of sums up the risk in every song that we play.

“None of us really know the arrangement down pat, there’s always something that could go wrong on stage, and that’s what we love, that’s how we like to perform.”

Wood spent some time here last year, laying down tracks with Bernard Fowler, the American singer and Stones backing singer, at the studio he has in his lavish house. Over the years Wood has become a familiar face in the Kildare countryside.

One urban legend tells how he and Jagger had whipped out a guitar in a bar in Naas for a session and the landlord told them in no uncertain terms that it was a “non-singing” pub. When a punter informed the landlord that he was in the company of Jagger, he said: “I don’t care if it’s Daniel O’Donnell, there’s no singing in my pub.”

There were far too many raucous nights in Kildare to remember, Wood says.

“I haven’t been there often enough in recent years, if I’m honest,” he says. The house, which is a listed building, comes with an Irish bar (dry, because Wood is sober now) and a statue of Elvis Presley in the courtyard. Visitors have included Bob Dylan and David Bowie.

The band wound up the first leg of their tour last autumn, and one might presume that the break came because they were tiring of life on the road. Wood, however, insists that, even with a combined age of 293 when the tour was announced, the Rolling Stones were just getting started.

“It was a nice surprise to find out that Ireland is going to be the first gig of the new tour because we’re going to try keep that momentum going from the earlier dates,” he says. “When we finished the last leg, only a few months ago in Paris, Keith said to me, ‘We’ve only just started to warm up.’ That’s the feeling with all of us, Mick and Charlie were the same, and we just felt like we were just beginning to let rip. Hopefully that momentum will keep up for Croke Park. I’m pretty sure that it will.”

With the band having been formed in 1962 and having enjoyed phenomenal worldwide success and countless tours in the ensuing decades, you could forgive a Rolling Stone for being blasé about sold-out stadiums and general adoration. Wood is far from disenchanted by the scene, putting as much effort into choosing set lists and venues as he did in the 1960s. There are still regular rehearsals, he says, and allowing the life of rock’n’roll to become mundane is simply something he has never allowed to happen.

Wood says that the apprehension the band members feel before going on stage has never changed, and “there’s nothing quite like” the nerves that come with playing in front of a live audience.

Diehard Stones fans have been trawling through old set lists, making suggestions online as to what could be in store at gigs. With a repertoire as extensive as theirs, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Stones just show up and play on spec. Not so, says Wood, who pores over song orders before reaching decisions with the boys.

“There will be similarities with the future sets and the most recent as the fans need to get what they want, but it’s good if each concert takes on a different meaning and paints a different picture,” he says.

Still, more often than not the band open with Sympathy for the Devil, followed by a mixture of about 20 more staples, including Paint It Black, Under My Thumb, Brown Sugar, Start Me Up and Street Fighting Man. They rehearse different orders, Wood says, and mould each gig into shape.

When it comes to encores, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction have been the favourites to date.

Wood’s attention to detail extends farther than song orders and guitar strings. He published Ronnie Wood: Artist, a comprehensive collection of his paintings and other artworks, to mark his recent 70th birthday.

A student at Ealing College of Art in west London before embarking on his musical career, he maintained his love for painting. It’s serious business — one 2005 portrait of his daughter Leah is on sale online for £65,000; others have sold for as much as £300,000. His bandmates largely form the basis of his artwork, with appearances from other well-oiled musicians, including Dylan and Slash. Much of Wood’s collection is sold out.

While his brood has been expanding, so has his collection of horses — his next subject is likely to be a young foal. “I’m going to come over to Ireland later in the month and go out to the old place again,” he says wistfully. “I miss it. We have a new foal, Sandymount Baby she’s called, and I’ve not met it, but I have seen pictures.”

His one-year-old twins, Gracie Jane and Alice Rose, have already visited Ireland and you get the distinct impression that fatherhood again at the age of 70 melts his heart. Wood, who has four older children, married Sally Humphreys, the theatre producer, in 2012. The twins and Sally joined the band on tour last year and are as hardened to life on the road as much as toddler twins can possibly be, Wood says.

“The girls are on the road and people love them. They started off in the US, then they went to the desert festival and they haven’t looked back since. They came all across Europe with us. They have been to Kildare and to Dublin, where they stopped some traffic on Grafton Street one day we went shopping over there.”

They are very advanced for one-year-olds, I suggest. “Oh they are,” Wood agrees. “They certainly fool me.”

If you start Wood up, he never stops. When the upcoming tour winds down, he already has a plan. He paid a visit to his Faces bandmate Rod Stewart at Christmas and the pair have been discussing working on some new music.

One of their last public performances was when they reunited with the original drummer Kenney Jones to play a set for Prostate Cancer UK at a charity event in Surrey in 2015, marking the band’s 40th anniversary. Stewart was also best man at Ronnie and Sally’s wedding at the Dorchester hotel in London.

“I’m always in touch with Rod, I went out to his place a couple of months ago, about Christmastime, and we were talking about how as soon as we are both not touring with our separate bands, we are going to do something,” he says.

Jagger, meanwhile, recently said that he does not expect the upcoming tour to be the band’s last. “Why would we ever want to stop?” Wood asks. Why indeed.

The Rolling Stones play Croke Park, Dublin, on May 17. Tickets go on sale on March 23


Re: Ronnie Wood: ‘The Rolling Stones have a special link to Ireland’
Posted by: Monsoon Ragoon ()
Date: March 16, 2018 16:58

...that's why they played no concert at all there from the mid 60's to 1982 and only three shows later on.

Re: Ronnie Wood: ‘The Rolling Stones have a special link to Ireland’
Posted by: Beast ()
Date: March 16, 2018 17:25

Nice one - thanks for flagging it to attention, Cristiano!

Re: Ronnie Wood: ‘The Rolling Stones have a special link to Ireland’
Posted by: CallM ()
Date: March 16, 2018 19:02

Naas is my home town and I’ve been in that bar mentioned in the article many times. The local paper did a piece with the owner about that story and he confirmed it to be true.

And believe me this man is not the type to make up stories just to get a laugh or a few more punters through the doors.

There’s also the story of the day the papers broke the story of Ron and the Russian waitress years ago. There was a guy reading the paper in a bar in a town called Clane, not far from where Ronnie’s house is. He called the bar man over wondering why his drinking buddy Ron was on the front of the paper.

The Bar man had to explain to the guy who exactly Ron was. He’d been having a pints on and off with him for a few years and never realized who he was.

I’d love that to be true because it just shows how cool and laid back he is.

Re: Ronnie Wood: ‘The Rolling Stones have a special link to Ireland’
Posted by: 35love ()
Date: March 16, 2018 21:37

Ronnie Wood runs deeper than we think, I suspect.
And I bet he didn’t tell his pub mate he was a RS,
cuz who wants to get asked about Mick Jagger all day? Ha ha ha

Ron Wood at Tate in London seeing Picasso 1932 exhibit on his FB/ instagram

Re: Ronnie Wood: ‘The Rolling Stones have a special link to Ireland’
Posted by: jlowe ()
Date: March 17, 2018 14:09

Monsoon Ragoon
...that's why they played no concert at all there from the mid 60's to 1982 and only three shows later on.

And no tour date in the northern provinces either.

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