Rocking Facts About Ronnie Wood, The Rolling Stones Guitarist

August 28, 2023 | Andrea Papillon

Rocking Facts About Ronnie Wood, The Rolling Stones Guitarist

If Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are the original Rolling Stones, Ronnie Wood is the glue that’s held the band together. But even though Wood is a mega-rich, ultra-talented musician, he's seen his fair share of dark days. From his brutal battles with addiction to his rocky romantic life, here are 50 rocking facts about Ronnie Wood.

1. Go Green

Ronnie Wood was born in Hillingdon, west of London, England, on June 1, 1947.

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2. Born Free

For generations, the Wood family had a very unique occupation: They were all water gypsies, a fanciful nickname for working-class river barge operators. Wood said that the family had been stuck on the water for so long that he and his two older brothers were the very first Wood kids to be born on dry land instead of at sea.

Ronnie Wood FactGetty Images

3. Keith's Warning

During his early days with the Rolling Stones, Wood indulged in seriously dangerous behavior. He said one wake-up call occurred when Keith Richards threatened to kill him. In Wood's words, "When he thinks you're out of control, you think, Christ, there must be something wrong".

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4. Knock on Wood

Ronnie Wood has calmed down nowadays, but during his second marriage to his wife Jo, he would become incredibly angry if there wasn't booze in the house. On one occasion, Jo recalls that Wood threatened to throw acid at her because there wasn't enough to drink.

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5. Razzed by Richards, Mothered by Mick

Before his first sober Stones gig, Wood recalled shaking in his boots offstage. Keith Richards started bellowing at him, "Rehab is for quitters, you weakling!" But Mick Jagger comforted him with a hug, assuring him, “Ronnie, you will be all right. I’ve got you".’ Wood added that Richard has since confessed how proud he is of Wood. “He just likes to test you". Wood explained.

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6. Ronnie and Co.

In the depths of his addiction, Ronnie Wood was not the greatest father on earth. His ex-wife Jo wrote that Wood once spent money that was supposed to go to their children's school fees on an expensive watch. Thankfully, that kind of behavior changed.

When Wood started his own record company in 2005, his daughter Leah landed a recording on the label. Clearly, something runs in the family. Whether it's music or nepotism remains to be seen.

Ronnie Wood FactsWikimedia Commons

7. All About that Bass

Wood is a musical Renaissance man. He plays multiple string instruments, many more than the electric guitar that he plays for the Rolling Stones. Wood even played bass for the Jeff Beck Group.

Ronnie Wood FactWikipedia

8. Unexpected Scruples

Wood remembered a time during the Stones' most frenzied period of substance use when Keith Richards displayed some thoroughly unexpected decency. Richards caught Wood in the act of freebasing—but it wasn't that dangerous, illicit activity that made Richards "go mental" on Wood.

Wood was married to second wife Jo at the time, but he was freebasing with another woman—and Richards, who was "very moral" about marital fidelity, showed his displeasure with Wood by punching him in the face.

Ronnie Wood FactWikipedia

9. Some Melons Have All the Luck

Being in one famous rock group is more than enough for most people, but not Ronnie Wood. His older brother Art formed the band Quiet Melon which included not only Ronnie, but another future superstar: a young man named Rod Stewart. After Quiet Melon disbanded, Wood and Stewart went on to form the famous rock band The Faces.

Ronnie Wood FactFlickr

10. Turning Stones

In 1974, Wood ran into Mick Jagger and the other Rolling Stones at a party. It was a fun night, until everything soured with one sentence. Mick Taylor, the Stones guitar player at the time, unceremoniously blurted to Jagger that he was up and leaving the band. Jagger seemed to take it well. He simply turned to Wood and asked, “will you play on our album?” Wood replied, “thought you’d never ask".

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11. Facing the Music

In 1976, the music industry was abuzz with dark rumors that the Faces were breaking up—and blame was put on either Rod Stewart or Ronnie Wood. Wood felt that Stewart was gearing up to be a solo artist. Stewart countered by saying Wood had made recording and touring with the Rolling Stones his main priority.

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12. Getting a Little R&R

The breakup of the Faces could have been bitter, but Wood and Rod Stewart have remained close pals. Wood contributed his musical and writing talents to Rod Stewart’s first few solo projects, including a co-write on Stewart’s “Every Picture Tells a Story".

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13. If You Put It That Way

Wood released his first solo project in 1974. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards both contributed to the album, which Wood cheekily titled I’ve Got My Own Album to Do.

Ronnie Wood FactFlickr

14. He Had It Covered

Wood hasn’t limited his artistic displays to framed canvases. Wood’s portrait of famous musician buddy Eric Clapton is on the cover of Clapton’s 1988 box set, Crossroads. This is a sweet example of their bond, but other times, Clapton and Wood got way too close for comfort (more on that later).

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15. Crazy Is the New Normal

After Richards caught Wood freebasing with another woman, they got into a knockdown fight. Wood tumbled into the next room, where Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts were writing songs. Wood stood there bloodied, whining at Jagger about Richards attacking him. A blasé Jagger replied, “all right, Ronnie, but we’re working here,” like that level of craziness was nothing out of the ordinary!

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16. The World Is His Gallery

Wood isn't just a musician. He's also a celebrated painter. His artworks are owned and exhibited worldwide, with his paintings selling for as much as £300,000 each.

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17. Into the Woods

Everyone knows that rock stars are chick magnets and Ronnie Wood is no different. The guitarist tied the knot not one, not two, but three times, and he has six kids. His first wife bore him a son. His second wife had a son and a daughter, and Wood also adopted the son from his second wife's previous marriage. He has twin daughters with his current wife.

Ronnie Wood FactGetty Images

18. A Grand Dad

Wood’s twin daughters with his third wife are younger than his six grandchildren.

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19. Stamping It Out

Wood took up an unusual hobby when he entered his seventh stint in a rehab facility. According to Wood, concentrating on his unique past-time helped stamp out his addictive tendencies. What hobby did the trick, you ask? Wood developed a passion for, um, stamp collecting, definitely the most rock n' roll past-time.

Ronnie Wood FactShutterstock

20. Soaked Wood

Wood has admitted that his family struggles with one heartbreaking issue: the Woods tend to grapple with alcoholism and drinking issues. He remembers his dad, "who regularly fell asleep in other people's gardens after nights at the pub," and his brothers had their problems with drinking. Sadly, Wood also struggled with alcohol dependence throughout his life.

Ronnie Wood FactGetty Images

21. Wood Didn’t Chuck

Wood’s battle with addiction and substance misuse show the dark side of fame. This time included long periods of dangerous drug activities like freebasing, but Wood never abandoned his will to live. Wood has said that even in his "maddest days" of substance use, he knew when to stop. "I went to the precipice," Wood explained, "but I never let myself drop down".

Ronnie Wood FactWikimedia Commons

22. Moon Fell Down

Wood has named former drummer of The Who, the late Keith Moon, as a sad example of a great talent succumbing to substance misuse. Wood described the 1970s when Moon would "knock back piles" of pills, even after Wood warned him, "don't take 'em all". After Moon overdosed in 1978, Wood said that Moon’s Who bandmate Pete Townsend was furious at Moon for being "an idiot" with illicit substances.

Ronnie Wood FactWikimedia Commons

23. Bird Songs

Back in 1964, Wood got his professional start in music with The Birds, a British R&B band. They released very few singles, but Wood is credited with writing or co-writing many of their songs.

Ronnie Wood FactsWikimedia Commons

24. Lord of the Ring

After The Birds disbanded, Wood joined an “electric blues band” with the strange name of Santa Barbara Machine Head. The keyboard player in that outfit was John Lord, who famously went on to form Deep Purple after the Santa Barbara Machine Head members parted ways. It's like they say: If at first you don't succeed, try forming a different band.

Ronnie Wood FactWikipedia

25. The Family Stone

Like a true family unit, the Rolling Stones survived their dysfunctions and are closer than ever. Wood revealed that Richards finally gave up hard booze, although Richards still smokes and drinks beer. But Wood has disclosed that the aggression and in-fighting within the group disappeared after the hard-partying ended, and the band is a "happier ship".

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26. Memorable Meeting

Wood’s ex-wife Jo Howard had a mixed first impression of her future husband after he approached her at a party in 1977. She recalled him showing her a copy of a Stones album, pointing at himself on the cover with a “you know who I am?” smugness. But she did appreciate Wood’s wacky—and naughty—sense of humor from the get-go.

When she’d gone to get a drink, she saw Wood’s reflection in the mirror over the bar…playfully pretending to hump her image.

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27. Wrong Kind of Confidence

Wood is clean now, but he’s unapologetic about his risk-taking past. He felt that he needed illicit substances to find confidence and feel invincible in the public eye. As Wood put it, he “could go on stage off his head and never miss a note".

Ronnie Wood FactGetty Images

28. Addiction Full Stop

Woods credits his third wife Sally with making him realize that the long, hazardous journey of drinking and substances had reached its end. As Wood puts it, “it wasn’t just that I had to stop, I wanted to stop".

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29. Stone Cold Sober

Wood faced terrifying moments on the road to sobriety—especially when he started playing Stones concerts fully clean. Wood said his first sober gig “was somewhere in Canada. I remember standing there thinking: ‘I can’t do this.’ I’d never been out on a stage with nothing in my system, it felt like driving a car without a windscreen".

Ronnie Wood FactsWikimedia Commons, Raph_PH

30. Collab Worthy

Many late, great stars of the musical universe have called on Wood for collaborations, including Aretha Franklin, David Bowie, and Prince. Living legends that he's worked with include Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, and Eric Clapton.

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31. He’s Got The Moves Like Jagger

Interviews with Mick Jagger have revealed the singer’s great affection for Wood. Jagger said that Wood’s presence on guitar completely changed the band’s sound and dynamic, and Wood made the band more entertaining, “on stage singing along with the vocals, mugging at the crowd".

Ronnie Wood FactsWikimedia Commons, Gorup de Besanez

32. Passion Projects

Wood remains as passionate as ever about his creative pursuits. He's written songs that he says have changed his life, and he admits to still feeling that 'hairs on the back of your neck' sensation when he plays certain guitar riffs.

Ronnie Wood FactsGetty Images

33. Thank You Berry Much

Wood recorded a live tribute disc to his idol, Chuck Berry, called Mad Lad: A Live Tribute To Chuck Berry. Wood performed with Berry many times, and Wood also recalled Berry confiding “this big secret” to him. So, what was Berry’s big secret? Berry revealed that he’d worn the same red trousers on stage for 17 years. Wood joked back, "we all know that. We've all seen them".

Ronnie Wood FactsWikimedia Commons

34. To Recovery and Beyond

After a whopping eight stints in rehab, Wood is serious about his recovery process this time. He’s put it first in his life, counting on meditation and meetings to help him. As Wood says, “You can’t think, I’m sorted, because that’s when it all creeps up on you and you’re back on the bottle".

Ronnie Wood FactsGetty Images

35. Wood Chipping Away

Wood admits to getting “woke” about issues affecting the world today. His eldest daughter Leah is vegan, so Wood no longer indulges in red meat. His son Tyrone is a climate activist, and Wood is cutting back on plastics in solidarity. He told his wife Sally that he wanted to book a private jet to tour—just like the good old days—but she replied, “have you any idea the damage that does to the planet?”

Ronnie Wood FactsGetty Images

36. Making Faces

When Wood was a young man, he played guitar with the Faces, but it didn’t end there. He played harmonica and bass on some tracks, and he also sang. Most impressive of all, Wood he co-wrote hit songs including “Stay With Me” and “Ooh La La".

Ronnie Wood FactGetty Images

37. A Shotgun Situation

Wood and his second wife Jo had only been dating for six weeks when they realized that everything about their lives was about to change. Jo discovered she was pregnant. The Rolling Stones were touring North America, so the new couple (and their unborn baby) rented a mansion in the Hollywood Hills with a swimming pool running through the living room.

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38. Two Men and a Baby

Jo Wood gave birth to Wood's first daughter, Leah, in 1978. She recalled that Wood and Keith Richards were both at the hospital for Leah's birth, and when a nurse asked who the father was, Wood and Richards both cracked, "I am!"

Wholesome Stories FactsMax Pixel

39. No Bug Spray Required

Wood joined Flea, Anthony Kiedis, and Chad Smith, of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, to play the fifth annual MusiCares event in 2009. The impromptu group called themselves The Insects.

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40. Forgiveness Is Sweeter

Wood and ex-wife Jo moved past their bitter divorce, building a solid friendship. Jo even lent a hand with babysitting after Wood and third wife, Sally, gave birth to twin daughters.

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41. Band of Brothers

Few people know that Wood’s older brother Art also had success in the surging British music scene of the 1960s. He scored a minor contract and formed a band called Quiet Melon in 1969. With Ronnie in the lineup, Quiet Melon recorded a four-track demo tape, and Art delivered it to Fontana Records with high hopes.

Sadly, things derailed in spectacular fashion. The record company turned them down, and they canceled Art's contact. He went on to become a successful graphic designer, dabbling in music part-time.

Katharine Hepburn FactsShutterstock

42. Creative Lads

Wood had two older siblings, and all three Wood boys were gifted artists and musicians. Sadly, Ronnie is the only Wood brother left standing. Ted Wood passed in 2004 and Art Wood passed in 2006.

Ronnie Wood FactWikimedia Commons

43. How’d He Do That?

After Wood married Sally Humphreys—31 years his junior—one British reporter took a refreshing spin on their relationship. During an interview, the female reporter didn’t pointedly ask a much younger, less wealthy Humphreys what had attracted her to “multimillionaire rock star” Wood. Instead, the reporter asked Wood, “Ronnie, how on earth did you bag a broad like Sally?”

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44. Two Worlds Become One

Wood and Humphreys got acquainted at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Wood was hanging his artwork in the famous West End location, and Humphreys was producing James Jagger (Mick's son) in a play at the King's Head, in Islington. Though they didn't become romantically involved until 2011, Humphreys said that their mutual interests and connections were like a crossover, easing them past the age gap into an intimate relationship.

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45. The Stones Keep Rolling

In recent years, Wood and his Stones bandmates have successfully battled some major health challenges. As Wood stated in an interview, “Charlie Watts had throat cancer, Keith Richards had brain surgery, I had my lung op (Wood had cancerous lesions removed) and then it was Mick Jagger's heart".

When asked if he was worried about Jagger’s operation to replace an aortic valve, Wood cracked that the same “good old doctor,” who oversaw his lung operation, was overseeing Jagger’s heart procedure.

Ronnie Wood FactWikimedia Commons

46. From Russia Without Love

In 2008, Wood made the world gasp when he left his second wife Jo for a 19-year-old Russian cocktail waitress named Ekaterina Ivanova. Wood’s divorce made very public headlines in 2009, with his new relationship seeming to be doomed from the start.

Ronnie Wood FactsGetty Images

47. Unhappily Ever After

In December 2009, it became clear that Wood and his Russian bride were no match made in heaven. The paparazzi snapped pictures of the couple getting into a huge fight on the street, with Wood grabbing his wife's neck. The couple barely lasted for 18 months and when it was all over, Ivanova called Wood an “evil goblin king".

Ronnie Wood FactsGetty Images

48. He Refused a Bumper Crop

Wood was in his early 20s when a band approached him to be their lead guitar player. Wood not only turned them down, but he also put them down with a joke that he couldn't "join that bunch of farmers". Little did Wood know, he'd just made a huge mistake. Those country bumpkins went on to become an extremely famous band: Led Zeppelin.

Gollum FactsWikimedia Commons

49. He Wed the Original Rock Chick

Wood met his first wife, Krissy Findlay, in 1964 when she was already a successful, 16-year-old model. They married in 1971, and later had a son together, but their union was far from idyllic. Both suffered from addictions and indulged in many extramarital affairs.

Ronnie Wood FactGetty Images

50. He Got Into A Love...Square?

Findlay was nicknamed the "groupie extraordinaire" for a good reason. Her lovers included Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Jimmy Page, and John Lennon. In a perverse twist, one of Wood's own lovers was Pattie Boyd...who was married to George Harrison at the time. Yup, Findlay, Wood, Harrison, and Boyd all effectively swapped spouses.

Muses FactsFlickr

Sources:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

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