Rolling Stone returns to his first love with show of his paintings

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The Independent Online

Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood is putting on his first West End gallery show next week, featuring portraits of famous fellow musicians.

Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood is putting on his first West End gallery show next week, featuring portraits of famous fellow musicians.

Wood is showing 17 original works in a range of mediums at The Gallery in Mayfair, including pictures of Bill Wyman, Johnny Rotten and John Lennon.

Rod Stewart, Jack Nicholson, Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison are also featured in pictures with price tags of up to £30,000 each. For the less well-heeled, there will be 60 prints costing about £500.

Many of the paintings are decidedly un-rock and roll, such as landscapes evocative of John Piper.

Wood, still on the road with the Rolling Stones, playing London gigs this week, took up drawing at the age of 12, long before the guitar. Among the artists he most admires are Goya and Rubens.

"I like Goya's expressiveness and his darkness. Rembrandt's too. And the grandeur of Rubens. I love the Prado in Madrid. It's got lots of my favourite paintings in there," Wood said.

"As you do with music, I like to take a little out of everyone's book and combine it - done that ever since I was a little kid, with both music and art. And that's how you shape your own legend... or whatever it's called."

In 1963, Wood enrolled in the Ealing School of Art, where he formed his first band, The Thunderbirds, later to become The Birds.

The following year he first saw The Rolling Stones, a band he was to join a decade later. He said of the 1964 gig: "I knew I belonged in that band. I've always been a believer in fate. I counted on it happening... I just had to wait it out."

Artist Jonathan Poole, who is organising the Wood exhibition, worked for 20 years as a representative of the John Lennon Estate.

So is he a Beatles or a Stones man?

"Lennon and Wood are vastly different artists. Wood has always been an artist, really," he said. "The main difference is that while Lennon confined his work to drawings of his family, including Yoko, Ronnie has painted other rock and roll icons.

"Obviously, any Lennon exhibition I've organised has attracted attention, but Ronnie is something else."

His exhibition comes days after The Rolling Stones played a sell-out concert in Shepherd's Bush Empire, during which Wood walked offstage when his guitar would not work.

The sale of the paintings may partly compensate him for the loss of a case brought by the Stones against their record company Decca for royalties for the 40 Licks greatest hits album.

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