Rolling Stones legend Ronnie Wood in Atlantic City April 21 for rare solo show at the Golden Nugget, gives candid interview to ‘AC Weekly.’
UPDATE: Thursday, April 22, 9:30am: Ron Wood will be appearing at the Golden Nugget on Friday night, in addition to this concert in the Grand Showroom on Saturday, for the opening of his new art gallery at the casino resort in Atlantic City. The gallery is expected to remain open through July.
Tax Day Tuesday in New York City and the morning skies are sunny. Music legend Ronnie Wood, suffering from a “four-day bug” that he and his manager are getting over, struts onto the set of the Live with Kelly show. The audience goes nuts. Wood’s wearing dark sunglasses with red frames and matching red socks, looking svelte in a gray suit.
“You just ooze cool, I must say,” the nationally syndicated show’s host Kelly Ripa tells him as he grabs a seat next to her.
“I haven’t even woken up yet!” Wood fires back with a huge smile, his bed-head do looking as if it hasn’t been combed in more than 40 years.
Following the sit-down interview with Ripa — and guest co-host D.L. Hughley — Wood heads back to his hotel room where the soon-to-be 65-year-old member of the Rolling Stones and his entourage have set up camp for what so far has been a whirlwind trip in America. A lot of press, some controversy and induction into the Rock and Roll of Fame.
He has an interview scheduled for 11am.
“It was lovely,” Wood says of the Live with Kelly taping just over an hour earlier in an exclusive interview with Atlantic City Weekly. “She’s a lovely lady. And it was pretty painless. I didn’t have time to talk about my gig in Atlantic City at the Golden Nugget, but she did plug it at the end!”
Along with Live with Kelly, included on Wood’s spring jaunt has been an April 9 press conference in New York where the long-time fine artist appeared for the kick off of his new art exhibition, “Faces, Time and Places,” in the Big Apple.
Speaking to the massive swarm of gathered media representatives, with camera flashes popping off like fireworks, Wood’s stunning paintings and drawings — depictions of Keith Richards, Al Pacino and other friends and stars — illuminated the walls of the Broome Street gallery.
(Some of the pieces will be on display at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City when Wood performs his only slated show in the U.S. there on Saturday, April 21.)
Watch Ronnie Wood on the Live with Kelly show below.
A few days later, the London-born Wood and his peeps head out to Ohio to prep for a little gig in Cleveland — something to do with the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Woody, as his friends call him, is being inducted into the Hall for the second time, for his work with the seminal British rock band the Faces (he was already inducted into the Hall as a member of the Rolling Stones, whose 50th anniversary is this year).
Although Wood caught a cold in Cleveland, he had a ball with his old band (originally called the Small Faces) and friends. But it was a long night in Cleveland, with the ceremony and final jam lasting into the wee wee hours of the morning.
“Oh, [it was] unbelievable!” says Wood. “The ceremony itself was at least six hours long. Some people, they just tell their whole life story, you know what I mean? I was like, ‘Wow.’ You know? There’s a limit.”
Wood did make it to the end of the ceremony, joining in on the impromptu all-star rendition of Steve Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” which fellow 2012 inductees the Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded for the band’s 1989 album Mother’s Milk.
“That was great fun,” says Woody. “I always love to play with Flea and Slash, my old pals. It was great to see everybody — and George Clinton was funny, too.”
Despite the extreme length of the Cleveland ceremony, the reunited Faces (without Rod Stewart) set was superb. After a small series of dates last summer, the Faces’ previous performance prior to the induction ceremony was July 30, 2011, at the Fuji Festival in Niigata, Japan. It didn’t sound that way in Cleveland where the band played “Stay With Me” and “Ooh La La.”
“We were just rocking,” says Wood of the 2011 Japan show. “We just [really] got it down [but] it was our last gig, you know, for a while. And then it was like, ‘Oh, I wish we all had enough time in our schedules to do a tour and bring it to the States. Maybe we will. That’s what we’re going to work on after the success of the Hall of Fame [ceremony]. It went so well that everybody was saying, ‘Please come to the States and play,’ so we may do that.”
Meanwhile, a media firestorm was brewing as reports from the April 9 press conference in New York were coming out claiming that Wood had said that the Rolling Stones were preparing for a possible tour in the near future to mark the band’s 50 years. (Watch video from press conference)
“Ronnie Wood has apologized to his Rolling Stones bandmates for remarks he made to the media last week about an upcoming band gathering in the recording studio ahead of a possible concert next year to celebrate the group’s 50th anniversary,” one report out of Cleveland said, adding: “However, Wood insists his quotes weren’t accurately reported and reveals the frontman promptly scolded him for the remark.”
Wood told Billboard.com: “I heard from [Mick] Jagger; he’s going, ‘What the hell? We don’t know anything yet!’ And I said, ‘You know what [the media] are like. I just expressed my personal view; I would love to go into the studio.’ Then they took it all wrong.”
Speaking to Billboard.com from Cleveland over the weekend, Wood also said he is looking forward to the Rolling Stones 50 book to be published in July and a Stones documentary due later this year. (A new Faces book is out now.)
“We do have a 50th anniversary,” Wood said in Cleveland. “Whatever is going to be done, we will know in the next few months.”
After playing with the Faces and dealing with the mini Stones scandal in Cleveland, Wood heads back to New York, does the Kelly show (and then, graciously, this interview), all while planning for his one-off show in Atlantic City.
“I’d love to more [shows], and I will, but my schedule is so nuts,” says Wood. “It is so busy, busy, busy all the time. And then you get things like the Cleveland [Rock and Roll] Hall of Fame in the middle of it and it’s just kind of [difficult].”
Although Wood, who’ll turn 65 in June, is battling a cold, he’s looking forward to playing a rare solo gig. He’s a warhorse — of course. Just the fact that he’s been with the Stones for nearly 40 years makes him one. It hasn’t just been a busy week or so for Woody.
“We’ve had a pretty busy three years actually,” he says. “The last three years have been full-on non-stop.”
Wood released the stellar yet overlooked solo album I Feel Like Playing in 2010, and then kicked off his multi award-winning East London-based radio program The Ronnie Wood Show (he’s recorded 100 episodes thus far), which has been in production for about a year and a half, and is available overseas on Absolute Radio and now on TV on Sky Arts HD.
There have also been things like joining old pal Paul McCartney on stage at London’s O2 Arena (in recent months) for a rendition of the Beatles’ “Get Back” during one of the Macca’s sold-out shows. Wood paired up with Sir Paul again a few weeks ago, this time at the Royal Albert Hall for a benefit concert for Teenage Cancer Trust. They played “Get Back” again and “brought the house down,” says Wood.
McCartney, says Wood, will appear on Wood’s radio show May 22.
“It takes it out of you,” he adds. “You know, with the traveling, and then rehearsing and all the demands and interviews — I did a load of press — personal appearances, and stuff, it takes its toll after a while, but another day’s rest and I’ll be back on full again.”
Which brings us to Wednesday, April 18, when Wood says he will visit the Golden Nugget — along with bandmate Steve Jordan — to personally look into the sound requirements for his gig there Saturday night.
“The guys at the Golden Nugget were so nice,” says Wood. “They said, ‘Hey, take our ballroom.’ And there’s also a smaller venue there ... I don’t know much about it. And I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to play a little small, cozy concert.’ And then they said, ‘Well, take the bigger room.’ And I said, ‘Well, OK, I’m going to check on that [with regard to the sound].’ I’m going with Steve Jordan [on Wednesday] to make sure it sounds good for the people.”
Wood’s artwork will also be a facet of the Atlantic City concert. Some of his original works and re-worked paintings, the latter of which he calls “Uniques,” — “I use images that I’ve done before and come back to them and make them [new] originals. It’s quite an interesting way of re-presenting my art” — will be on display.
“There will be some original hand-picked paintings there in the Golden Nugget,” he adds.
The art show in New York is a mini-retrospective, along with some new works and Wood’s “Uniques.” Wood says the exhibition was the initial reason for his spring 2012 American adventure. The Golden Nugget show came up later.
“Well, it came as a sideline to my art [exhibition],” says Wood. “Because I always like to paint and I always like to play and people kept asking me to do a concert, and I thought, ‘Well, I didn’t come over here to do that, I came over here to present my art, but while I’m at it, OK!’”
Woody has selected an all-star band for the A.C. show. He says the songs will come from many periods of his prolific musical career.
“In Atlantic City I’m going to play a concoction of songs from my solo album career, and different tributes to the Stones and Faces,” says Wood. “I’ve got a great band for [the show]. I’ve got Willy Weeks, the bass player that I got from Donny Hathaway 38 years ago; it’s going to be great to get together with him again. And I’ve got Steve Jordan on drums, and Bernard Fowler helping on the vocals, and Chuck Leavell on keyboards, and a young guy named Andy Wallace [on organ and keyboards] who I brought over from England.”
Wood says fans in Atlantic City can expect to hear one of his solo career highlights, Bob Dylan’s “Seven Days.” (LISTEN: Ronnie Wood sings a part of "Seven Days" in our interview.)
“Oh, I’m [definitely] going to play that in Atlantic City!” says Wood, just before breaking into a Dylan voice for an a cappella version of the song, which he originally recorded for his 1979 album Gimme Some Neck.
Dylan gave Wood the song, as he recalls.
“When Eric Clapton was recording No Reason to Cry in Zuma Beach, [California], I called up the studio one day and said I was on my way,” recalls Wood. “And they said ‘Bob Dylan’s here waiting for you!’ So we got there and we had a marvelous [time] and he had all these songs; he was playing us all these new songs and I said, ‘I love that one, Bob!’ And he said, ‘You can have that one if you want, Woody.’”
“So I said, ‘Right on. I’m taking it!’”
Along with a truckload of guest spots and collaborations — from George Harrison and Jeff Beck to B.B. King and Aretha Franklin — Wood has appeared on numerous Dylan albums, (Down in the Groove, Knocked Out Loaded, Empire Burlesque) including 1981’s Shot of Love.
“Bob wanted me to do the album cover for that one, and I had many designs going, but I was a bit too out of my brain at the time and couldn’t settle on one,” says Wood.
In 1985, Wood and Keith Richards joined Dylan for a short set at Live Aid.
The Stones and Dylan (and the Beach Boys) celebrate 50 years of recording this year. Twenty years ago, a concert at Madison Square Garden was held (and recorded and shown on Pay-Per-View) as a tribute to Dylan's 30 years of album making. Wood was there, too.
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