You’re lucky to be reading this interview. Not for any of the reasons that might immediately spring to mind — boring ones such as us being late to meet The Rolling Stones guitarist or a crisis at our printers — but, as Wood himself tells us, “I’m really lucky to have survived everything I put myself through.”
Unsuprisingly, he’s not talking about extreme sports. But survive he has. And although he’s still very much part of The Rolling Stones, the 63-year-old has also found time to take up a role as a proper radio DJ.
So tell us about your new gig…
I’m a DJ with a guitar. It’s very free. I play riffs on air and then say, “You can nick that one if you want, listeners.” Hopefully someone will. That’d be great. It’s a bit like Theme Time Radio, the show Bob Dylan does. It’s actually quite an honour for me to be able to play musical influences from my past, which then inspire me to tell a few stories.
What kind of stories?
Well, I played a Hendrix song the other day and I suddenly remembered I’d shared a flat with Jimi in Notting Hill Gate [London] for a couple of weeks. Prior to playing the track, I’d forgotten about it because everyone was so out of it at the time. He was quite a gentle flatmate. He gave me a dog — a basset hound called Loopy. We were living with Pat Arnold, who was the singer in The Ikettes, but she threw me and Jimi out because the dog kept sh*tting everywhere. Jimi said, “I’m going back on tour, Ronnie. Will you take my dog?” I had a little house in Kingston at the time, so I took her with me. Lovely dog, I’d completely forgotten Jimi gave her to me.
Did you have any typical flatmate moments with him, like telling him to do his washing up?
Neither of us were there long enough. But we did used to sit on the bed and exchange ideas on the guitar. He could flip it over and play left or right-handed equally well. Like Ronnie O’Sullivan with the snooker cue.
Was there a sense of rivalry between bands in the Seventies in terms of who was the wildest?
There always is. But The Stones were always the heaviest and the most fun to party with. And they still are.
Do you feel hypocritical telling your kids not to try stuff?
Yeah, it’s like the pot calling the kettle black if you tell your kid not to have a joint or something. But it’s all right. I just say, “You can try it and hopefully you won’t like it.” My kids have been good like that. They’ve obviously done it, because they’re going to whether you say they can or not. But they’re quite honest. They say, “I might have one again, but honestly I didn’t like it.” Joints are one thing, but they’ve shied off the harder stuff, which is great.
Have you read Keith Richards’ book, Life?
We don’t do each other’s books in The Stones. When mine was published, no one said, “You’ve got a great book Ronnie, I read it.” Nobody even bothered to mention I had one out. I have got Keith’s, he gave me a signed copy. It’s a bit of an undertaking though, isn’t it? I’ve looked at the pictures.
Mick Jagger is widely impersonated. Do you and the rest of the band do impressions of him too?
Yeah, we all do, in our own funny ways. In front of him, of course. There’s nothing behind the back. Now, who does the best Mick? I think Charlie [laughs].
You’ve been spotted hanging out with Diego Maradona — are you friends?
He’s my old mate — he calls me Diego and I call him Ronnie. We always swap shirts. We’ve partied many times in the past and it’s always great to see him. He’s absolutely nuts. The Stones were out in Argentina once and we all partied together.
He’s like a God out there. I don’t remember much about what went on, but I know we had a ball.
Which current bands do you think are carrying on The Stones’ legacy?
The spirit still lives on in bands such as The Killers and Kings Of Leon. There’s a germ of it still there. I like listening to a lot of modern stuff, too. Regina Spektor is great. I can’t wait to see what more she’s capable of.
How does a Stones rider in 2011 compare to one in the Seventies?
Instead of a case of Rebel Yell, you might see a load of double espressos. The most outrageous thing I have now is a Red Bull. But, the thing is, I only have to shake my bones and everything comes flooding back.
Tune into The Ronnie Wood Show on Absolute Classic Rock, Monday-Thursday at 4pm
Main image: Rex