A life of rock 'n roll

2007-12-19 00:00

RONNIE Wood is, in many ways, the archetypal rock ’n roll guitarist.

Descended from a long line of water gypsies, he and his brothers were the first of their family to be brought up on dry land. Like many of his musical peers, Wood was attracted, at an early age, to the Blues being played by countless skiffle groups across England in the late fifties. Having earned his spurs performing with the likes of the Jeff Beck Group and the Faces (from where his enduring friendship with Rod Stewart dates) his career took off into the rock stratosphere when he was drafted in as the replacement guitarist for the Rolling Stones — a position he has now held for close on 30 years.

Restraint does not appear to have been a word in Wood’s early vocabulary and he had no problem slotting in with the Stones’ partying and wild lifestyle, consuming cocaine by the cartload and drinking the equivalent of several distilleries dry. Along with his partner-in-crime, fellow-guitarist Keith Richards, he was not shy, either, about engaging in casual sex with scores of groupies or in destroying a great deal of hotel property.

By his own admission he was also hopeless with money, squandering several fortunes on various ill-advised schemes and allowing himself to be ripped off by all

sorts of shady characters. The situation only improved when his son, Jesse, agreed to take over as his financial manager — on condition that Wood cut back on the hard stuff.

Now partially reformed, Wood writes about his long and varied career with wit and candour in an engagingly open, blokey, sort of way. A gifted artist, with a surprisingly long-lasting and successful marriage, he emerges from his account as a likeable, if somewhat wayward, soul.

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