Like a Rolling Stone

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I doubt Rolling Stone guitarist Ronnie Wood got the $7 million that bandmate Keith Richards is reportedly getting for his upcoming autobiography, but at least fans don't have to wait till 2010 to get Wood's story, Ronnie (St. Martin’s Press, 358 pages, $25.95), in bookstores now.


Here's a review from the Associated Press...


Reading this autobiography is like hanging out at the pub with Ronnie Wood.

You have fun, you hear a few good stories and you learn about life as a Rolling Stone. It’s just too bad this good-natured man didn’t say more about the art of playing guitar.

Wood is a classic classic rocker, and his story has just that kind of "behind the music" arc. Born into a family of "water gypsies" who had worked on the canals around London for generations, Wood tells us in the first few pages that he was the youngest, by far, of three brothers.

Well, that figures. Hasn’t Wood always been the little brother? As a bass player for Jeff Beck, then as the Faces’ guitarist behind Rod Stewart and finally as the junior partner in the Stones’ push-me-pull-you guitar assault with Keith Richards? That kid brother ability to blend in with the players around him may explain Wood’s success as much as his talent and incredible timing — the guy was sitting next to Mick Jagger when then-Stones lead guitarist Mick Taylor quit the band.

With occasional detours, Ronnie chronicles Wood’s journey from humble roots to worldwide fame. This isn’t great literature — it has the feeling of a long interview organized into chapters — but it is entertaining.

There’s the scene in which Richards pulls a gun on Wood, and Wood responds by pulling his own. There’s the night at George Harrison’s, when Wood winds up with Harrison’s then-wife Patti Boyd, and Harrison with Wood’s first wife, Krissie. And there are a lot of misadventures with drugs and drug dealers.

Wood’s troubles with alcohol and drugs, in fact, cast a shadow over his tale. Now 60, he is in recovery from his addictions and clearly still battles them. Yet he can’t get away from the fact that tearing up the planet with his band mates has been a blast. So he has a hard time deciding whether to be wistful or regretful about his wild side.

Die-hard Stones fans will also catch an error here and there. Jagger infamously licked Wood’s face as they played "Respectable" on TV’s "Saturday Night Live," not "Beast of Burden." The "Bridges to Babylon" tour came in 1997, not 1994.

And a few stories seem out of place in time. Could John Lennon really have gotten so high he passed out during a jam session with the Stones in the late 1970s, as Yoko Ono sat by knitting? Wasn’t that during Lennon’s stay-at-home-dad days, also in the late ’70s before he was killed in 1980?

It may also disappoint that Wood doesn’t spend all that much time discussing his "night job" as a guitarist. Wood floats the idea of another book at the end of Ronnie and a good topic would be what he and Richards call the "ancient form of weaving."

What the reader does learn is Wood’s passion for his "day job" as a painter and his love for family and friends. An early chapter focuses entirely on a guy called Chuch, or Royden Walter Magee. He was Wood’s personal roadie for 32 years, just about from the time they met until Chuch died of a heart attack.

Name another rock star who would carve out space in his life story to celebrate an employee.


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I am really glad to read of the next show-biz drug and alcohol laden memoir soon to be headed for the remainders rack. Next: Britney Spears' fond rememberance of driving classes....

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This page contains a single entry by Teresa Budasi published on November 2, 2007 7:03 AM.

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