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.

Jimmy White features in the Snooker Legends 2012 UK tour (snookerlegends.co.uk). Ronnie Wood will play at the Jimmy White Testimonial on 2 June (whirlwindtestimonial.co.uk)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own