From the Stones to Sky Arts (via rehab), the reinvention of Ronnie
Rob Sharp is a freelance journalist specialising in arts and culture. He was on staff at The Independent from July 2007 to December 2011, first as a features writer, and then as the paper’s arts correspondent. He has written for a wide range of newspapers and magazines. For more information visit his website, www.robsharp.com or email him at email@example.com.
Saturday 30 July 2011
His cheeks are scarred by decades of debauchery, but Ronnie Wood continues to display a healthy ability to reinvent himself.
First rock star, then artist, and finally radio show host, the Rolling Stone can now add television presenter to a remarkable CV.
Wood is to host his own show on Sky Arts, featuring musical guests drawn from his bulging address book.
The show, which is due to launch next February, is expected to follow the format of Wood's award-winning radio programme on the digital station Absolute Classic Rock. It has a populist formula of vintage rock, blues and soul, along with Wood's prodigial ability to attract high-profile guests to what is still a minor digital channel.
During his stint on-air, Wood has interviewed the likes of The Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea and Mary Wilson of The Supremes, as accompanied by the distinctive thrum of his own guitar.
"He's very connected and well loved," said Jez Nelson, the new show's executive producer. "It's not like a traditional interview show, it's not jumping on the promotional bandwagon.
"People who come on will share Ronnie's long-running passion for music. It's not like Jonathan Ross, say, where people used to spend two and a half hours in makeup. Guests never address the cameras, it's a different kind of format."
Nelson said names appearing on the television show, while currently under wraps, would be "higher profile" than on the radio programme, which won Wood the Music Personality of the Year prize at the 2011 Sony Awards in May. But the guests will undoubtedly be plucked from Wood's own galactic circle of friends from his years in The Jeff Beck Group, Faces, The Rolling Stones and as a solo artist.
"My radio show is where it all happens, each week it is my little cage," said Wood in a pre-recorded interview.
"I open it once a week for an hour. It means so much for me to have my own radio show because it is history-making for me. Because what I say and what I play has gone down in some kind of format which I never thought of before."
Producers will edit camera footage of one of Wood's radio shows down to half an hour of material, which will include Wood with his guests reflecting on the show and its contents.
The Rolling Stone will have plenty to draw from his life and career. After a high-profile bust-up from his second wife of 23 years, Jo, in 2008, he entered into a tempestuous relationship with cocktail waitress Ekaterina Ivanova.
He was arrested after being spotted with her "apparently in a head-lock" the following year, and just last year, he entered rehab for the eighth time to conquer his long-running alcohol addiction. Currently touring with the recently-reformed Faces, Wood is said not to attend after-show parties in case he encouters drink.
"I'm lucky to be alive because a lot have dropped by the wayside, even young people – my kids' friends are dying because they don't know where to stop," he said recently. "And there's a lot of bad drugs around, lots of depression and lots of misuse of alcohol."
Sky Arts has also announced two new music shows hosted by Jo Whiley, also to be broadcast next year. The first will be a mixture of chat and live performances, while in the second "spin-off" live show, bands will play extended sets.
"Performance is going to be a big part of both shows; getting on the established acts but also the opportunity to give new bands a showcase on the channel," said Whiley.
Ronnie's Life & Times
Born in Hillingdon, west London, into a family of "water gypsies", Wood claims he was the first generation of his family to be born on dry land. Both of his parents, Elizabeth and Arthur, were born on canal barges, the "Orient" and "Antelope" respectively.
Joins The Faces alongside Rod Stewart, top. The band was the result of a merger between the members of The Jeff Beck Group and The Small Faces. Their breakthrough hit "Stay with Me" was penned by Stewart and Wood, and describes a one-night stand with a girl called Rita who had "red lips, hair and fingernails".
Wood was declared an official member of The Rolling Stones, above right. He had been collaborating with the group for several years, but his involvement became more profound after Mick Taylor left in 1974. Wood toured with the group the following year, while still officially a member of The Faces, before joining Jagger and co permanently.
In one of the many encounters with drugs that continually plagued the Stones, Wood was arrested with 260 grammes of cocaine on the Caribbean island of St Maarten while holidaying with his then girlfriend and future wife, Jo Karslake. They were jailed for five days.
Wood married his second wife, Jo, below, who the rest of the band saw as a "stabilising influence" on him. The band later relied on Jo as a conduit through which to reach Wood.
Undergoes high-profile separation from Jo and runs away with cocktail waitress Ekaterina Ivanova, 18, below. He is said to be drinking two bottles of vodka a day and checks into rehab after going on a two-week alcohol binge.
Wood is arrested then bailed for "trying to throttle" his then 19-year-old girlfriend. Onlookers claim Wood dragged her along the ground by her hair and coat and tried to take her handbag while screaming abuse at her.. The pair later split up and he enters rehab again the following year.
Starts presenting his own show on Absolute Classic Rock, describing the playlist as everything from "Mozart to Mali". "I arrive every week and my faithful roadie Barney is here and makes sure all my guitars are tuned," he says. "We are a great little team. We try to make it nice and cosy."
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