Few can claim to have had as stellar, or diverse, a career as Ronnie Wood. A two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (with the Rolling Stones and the Faces), he has played in some of the most influential rock groups of all time and guested with a who’s who of British music. At the same time, he’s enjoyed a remarkable parallel career as a highly regarded artist and, as a natural raconteur, has won a record three prestigious Sony Radio Personality awards.
Perhaps his path was predestined. Descending from a long line of travelling barge people, Ronnie grew up in a lively musical and artistic West London household. His father played in a harmonica orchestra, while older brothers Ted and Art were both accomplished musicians and graphic designers. With Ron showing creative flair at a young age, his brothers chipped in to buy him an acoustic guitar and at the age of 14, he purchased his first electric model.
Soon after, Ron embarked on his musical career when he joined local outfit The Birds, dropping out of Ealing Art College to focus on the band. Signed to the Stones’ label, Decca, the group’s incendiary take on R & B made them a popular live act up and down the country. However, their popularity failed to translate into record sales and the group eventually parted ways.
1967 marked a career milestone when Ronnie joined the Jeff Beck Group as bassist. With frontman Rod Stewart’s raw vocals, blues maverick Beck’s blazing guitar work and Ron’s instinctive bass lines, the Jeff Beck Group would write the blueprint for British hard rock. Despite an intense musical chemistry, band tensions often ran high and Ron briefly jumped ship to cult mod band, the Creation. Inevitably, the Jeff Beck Group would split for good in 1969 – just two weeks prior to a slot at Woodstock – but not before releasing two classic albums, wowing US audiences with their live performances and laying the groundwork for burgeoning rock acts like Led Zeppelin.
We were barred from so many hotels, the entire Holiday Inn chain, that we had to check in as Fleetwood Mac lots of times.