How We Met: Ronnie Wood & Jimmy White
'The morning after we met, we went out for a drink. We got home three days later'
Jimmy White, 49
The youngest ever World Amateur Snooker champion, aged 18, White (right in picture) went on to win 23 further titles – but lost all six of his world championship finals. He lives in Surrey.
Ronnie's daughter went to the same school as mine and one Christmas, in 1988, our kids were in a play together. We were in the audience and he looked over at me and smiled as we were both having trouble with our camcorders. We had a brief chat – I'm a huge Rolling Stones fan – but I didn't for the life of me think he liked snooker. It turned out he loved it; Ronnie has a table backstage at every gig, so he and [Stones guitarist] Keith [Richards] can relax before they go on.
We arranged to meet the morning after the play, in a pub in Wimbledon. We were supposed to do our Christmas shopping afterwards but one thing led to another and we didn't make it: our wives weren't too happy with us, but I was delighted.
We hang out well together: we always have a laugh round each other's houses, playing snooker for hours on end, and Ronnie playing me some of his songs.
One night me and [snooker champion] Ronnie O'Sullivan went over and Keith was there too, and they were playing new stuff on their guitars. We watched them play all night, until they turned round to us in the early morning and said, "So, who do you think is best?" Then they watched me and O'Sullivan play snooker all the following day.
We both have a passion for horse-racing and often go to the races together. Some years ago I was supposed to present a trophy in Leicester for an afternoon race; the night before I was at Ronnie's house in Wimbledon, having some fun. I said, "Ronnie I've got to go now as I'm due to present this trophy tomorrow." And he said, "Don't worry Jimmy, you'll make it!" Then, lo and behold, I woke up the next day, late, still in Wimbledon, panicking as I had to present this trophy soon. But Ronnie just said, "Don't worry, I've got a friend with a helicopter." We got there with three minutes to spare.
Though we've both had troubles, our relationship has had no downs; he's one of my best friends. He's been incredibly generous over the years: my house is filled with his art, portraits of Marvin Gaye, Eric Clapton, each signed: "To Jimmy, get this framed, you so and so."
Ronnie Wood, 64
Having played bass in the Jeff Beck Group, and guitar with the Faces, Wood has toured with the Rolling Stones since 1976. He is also an accomplished painter; his pieces fetch up to $1m. He lives in London.
I'd found out that his daughter Lauren and my daughter Leah were at the same school but I didn't think anything of it until we bumped into each other at their Christmas play in 1988.
At the time I was following Jimmy closely on the box and he was somebody I'd always wanted to meet. We went out for a drink the following morning and then three days later we finally got home. As the days went by he said, "Don't worry, Ronnie, the kids don't expect you back till Christmas morning." I was like, "I should have been home by now Jimmy, but I'm having too much fun!"
We used to do those [drinking sessions] all the time. His ex would often drag him out of my studio the next morning by his hair across my lawn, then home. And he's like, "What's for breakfast, love?"
All that snooker gang Jimmy was part of were like rock'n'rollers. Back in the days when we were both using [drugs] he'd turn up to one of my gigs for a second then disappear for the rest of the evening.
Through the years he's given me cues and balls and one of the most important possessions in my life, my Thurston table. I always say that Jimmy was the greatest player never to have won a world championship. It's important for a snooker player to have top focus – it's much the same for a musician – and just one lapse of concentration for two seconds is all it takes to lose.
I remember one tournament when he was 10 frames ahead of John Parrott [during the 1991 World Snooker Championship] when I left London for Sheffield [where the tournament was held]. I knew Jimmy was going to win; I was so excited. But by the time I arrived he was one behind. And then Jimmy lost and it was the biggest anticlimax of my life. He came straight through the curtain backstage to me and I was like, "Oh Jimmy..." and he just replied, "It's all right, it's only a ball game." Jimmy knows how to ride disappointment.
When we chat now we're still dirty swines, but now neither of us is drinking so we talk about getting better at what we do. It's wonderful playing against him, though usually I get an aching back from bending over to fish out all those balls he pots. And how would I rate his guitar abilities? Nil out of 10.
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