Ronnie Wood (72) “I never got past 29 in my head. I didn’t expect time to go so quickly”

Ronnie Wood 1.jpg

Ronnie Wood: Somebody Up There Likes Me (15)

Everyone’s favourite rock ’n’ roller Ronnie Wood looks incredulous at the idea that he is now in his 70s. “I never got past 29 in my head”, he explains. “It’s very surreal. I didn’t expect time to go so quickly.”

Oh Ronnie, You’ve got to love him and this wonderful film portrait by the acclaimed director Mike Figgis shows exactly why. The man is a phenomenal guitarist who first made waves as a  member of The Jeff Beck Group and The Faces back in the sixties. For the past 45 years he has been a member of The Rolling Stones.

He’s also a serious artist – “he can paint better than me”, says his mate Damien Hirst and a larger than life personality to boot – an almost Dickensian character for the 20th and 21st centuries.

Figgis’s film which received its only regional screening at Lighthouse in Poole in January, reveals Ronnie’s  extraordinary story in full. It’s a unique tale of talent and excess.

Against the odds he has not only survived near fatal encounters with booze, drugs and cancer but he’s thrived in a career that has been driven by a combination of brilliance, charisma and being in the right place at the right time. Or, as Ronnie himself puts it, Somebody up there likes me…”

Mike Figgis Ronnie Wood
Film director Mike Figgis with Ronnie and guitar

Mike Figgis traces Ronnie’s life from his childhood in West London and the days when his hard drinking dad would rarely make it home from the Nag’s Head without falling asleep in one of the neighbour’s front gardens. If he did get back the chances were that Ronnie’s long-suffering mum would find him rattling the windows with a knees-up and singalong with the local rag and bone man, a couple if gypsies and sundry inebriated human flotsam invited back from the public bar.

It was a challenging if character-forming upbringing for young Ron but one that served him well when, in the early days, he found himself navigating a rock ‘n’ roll world run by gangsters and thugs.

Figgis’s film gently explores Ronnie’s  rock ’n’ roll beginnings, the art school influences, his journey to stardom and the characters he met along the way. There are interviews with Rod Stewart and fellow Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts.

Other contributors include his wife Sally and his friend the singer Imelda May who appears on lead vocals in some excellent concert footage from Ronnie’s brilliant performance at the 500 seat Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne right here in Dorset back in November 2018.

Beautifully shot, this film finds a candid Ronnie reflecting on his life with warmth, humour and, above all, immense honesty. Jeremy Miles

Lou Reed didn’t suffer fools gladly – a bit of a handicap for someone working in the music business

Lou Reed
Lou Reed

One or two of my friends have expressed surprise that I haven’t commented on the sad death of Lou Reed. Clearly I was as influenced by his music as anyone else of my generation. But I wonder, what can I say?

Recalling my distant youth, The Velvet Underground arrived like a bolt to the brain. Dirty, subversive and directly connected to the late sixties counter-culture. It was compelling stuff.

Continue reading “Lou Reed didn’t suffer fools gladly – a bit of a handicap for someone working in the music business”

Airbrushed out: the band that got rid of a “gruff voiced” Rod Stewart

Jimmy Powell and the five Dimensions with Rod Stewart. Picture: Ron Howard
Jimmy Powell and The Five Dimensions with their young vocalist Rod Stewart. Picture: Ron Howard

OK, confession time! I rather enjoyed Alan Yentob’s Rod Stewart documentary Can’t Stop Me Now. It’s been accused of being an unashamed piece of hagiography. Well perhaps it did veer towards the uncritical. But it did the trick and it told a kind of truth. So I can’t help feeling that the claim from the man at Metro that Stewart had Yentob  “slobbering all over him like an overheated spaniel” was perhaps just a little unfair.

Continue reading “Airbrushed out: the band that got rid of a “gruff voiced” Rod Stewart”