Ted Wood

Trad jazz brother of Ronnie Wood
Click to follow

Edward George Wood, singer, drummer, graphic designer and antique dealer: born Yiewsley, Middlesex 24 June 1939; twice married (two sons); died London 29 September 2003.

The middle brother between the Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and the vocalist Art Wood of the Sixties rhythm'n'blues group the Artwoods, Ted Wood played drums and sang with a succession of traditional jazz bands, such as the New Temperance 7 and Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band.

It was with Ted Wood's Original London Skiffle Group that Ronnie Wood made his stage début in 1957. He recalls,

I think it was at the Marlborough cinema in Yiewsley High Street, local boys made good. We went on at the interval between two Tommy Steele films. I was about nine and I played the washboard. We did a couple of Lonnie Donegan numbers, "Gambling Man" and "Putting On The Style". I even had stage butterflies. Ted had to push me on but then I wouldn't get off.

A jazz purist and record collector, Ted Wood turned Ronnie, eight years his junior, on to the music of Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet. Ronnie Wood says,

Ted didn't like a lot of modern music, jazz from the Twenties to the Fifties was his thing. He was a bit of an eccentric but he was very talented himself. His talents were overlooked really. He was also a very good graphic artist and a wonderful collector of tin toys, lead soldiers, bric-à-brac. He was a very good influence on me when I was growing up. He taught me manners and common civilities.

Born in 1939 in Yiewsley, Middlesex, on the western edge of London, Edward George Wood grew up in a musical and unusual environment: his father Arthur skippered a tugboat when he wasn't leading a 24-piece harmonica big band touring the racetracks of England, everywhere from Goodwood to Royal Ascot, with the motto "Booze, racetracks and women". His mother Lizzie Wood gave up her job as a polisher at the HMV plant in nearby Hayes when Art, the couple's first son, was born in 1937.

During the Second World War, Art and Ted spent many a night with their parents in the air-raid shelter installed in the garden of the Woods' house in Whitehorn Avenue. The children came down with whooping cough, so their father moved the Anderson shelter inside the small back room of the house where the kids were happier with their drawing books and crayons. A late addition to the family in 1947, Ronnie Wood soon joined his older brothers in everything they did. "If they were painting, I would paint, and if they played music I would copy them and skip from instrument to instrument," recalls the guitarist:

We had everything from Chinese woodblocks to old drumkits, tea-chest bass, banjos, guitars, trumpets, saxophone, harmonica, jew's harps. Ted would let me have a little bash around on his drums. He also took me to see Duke Ellington at the Finsbury Park Astoria in 1959 and the Cyril Davies All Stars with Alexis Korner on guitar and Nicky Hopkins on piano. It was a real rocking band.

Ted Wood followed in his older brother Art's footsteps and attended Ealing School of Art, an establishment where the likes of Pete Townshend, David Bowie and, eventually, Ronnie Wood also studied typography, graphic design and fine art. Towards the mid-Fifties, the Ealing School of Art became a haven for beatniks and a hotbed of musical talent, with lovers of bluegrass, trad jazz and blues forming rival bands.

Art Wood got his call-up papers and did National Service before launching the Artwoods, but Ted was younger and avoided the Army. Instead, he formed the Candy Bisson Jazz Band, which evolved into Ted Wood's Original London Skiffle Group. In the Sixties, he played with Colin Kingwell's Jazz Bandits and Bob Dwyer's Hot Six before joining forces with the Temperance 7 trumpeter and instrumentalist Captain Cephas Howard to launch the New Temperance 7 in 1971. "Everybody loved his singing, that's why Ted was in such demand with all his bands, he would also guest with Chris Barber. He was a very good trad jazz drummer, a real purist and he could drum and sing at the same time," explains Art Wood, who joined Ted in setting up West Four, a graphics company:

They used to interweave, the art and the music. West Four did commercial art: brochures, leaflets, book jackets, classical-album sleeves for the Phillips label, as well as all the bands Ted and myself were in.

In 1975, Ted Wood recorded a solo single for the Penny Farthing label, a version of the jazz standard "Am I Blue". "Ted asked me and Ronnie Lane to help," recalls Ronnie Wood, who was about to leave the Faces and join the Rolling Stones:

We had a strange collection of background

singers on that record and the B-side "Shine". Ian McLagan, Kenny Jones and Rod Stewart of the Faces, Bobby Womack, Gary Glitter, believe it or not. It's a very collectable record. Ted always used to put suggestions for cover versions forward. If I needed a reference, he would have all the recorded versions to choose from.

Following a summer season on Shanklin Pier on the Isle of Wight with the New Temperance 7 in the Seventies, Cephas Howard bought a bistro and Ted Wood set up an antique shop next to him simply called Stuff. Later he moved to Dorset and never stopped playing music; in the Nineties, he joined Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band, another trad-jazz and parody ensemble, led by the former trombonist and saxophonist with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and the New Vaudeville Band. Ronnie Wood has fond memories of his brother's appearance with Bob Kerr's madcap outfit:

They would use tin whistles like Spike Jones and fire guns. Instead of a blank, they fired a live bullet through the top of this marquee they were playing under. Never a dull moment!

In 1998, the three Wood brothers recorded two tracks together on Money Due, an album released by Art Wood's Quiet Melon, and later appeared on stage at the reactivated Eel Pie Club in Twickenham. According to Ronnie Wood,

Ted didn't give much away but he was always there with tips on my art and musical phrasing as well. I still love all the music that Ted and Art turned me on to. I owe a lot of my achievements to my parents and both Art and Ted. They were good enough to go all the way.

Pierre Perrone