Ronnie Wood plans for Rolling Stones tour


Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood is not expecting to get back on the road anytime soon.

“We’re not holding our breath, otherwise we’d have collapsed,” he said.

Until this year, the Stones were one of the oldest rock groups still touring. Then came the coronavirus pandemic.

Ronnie Wood's Beggar's Banquet tapestry at Ashridge House
Ronnie Wood’s Beggar’s Banquet tapestry at Ashridge House

Thankfully, the rocker has had his other love to fall back on – painting.

And as he gets ready for a new large-scale exhibition of his work, with all profits going to the NHS, Wood spoke of his frustration at having to put the band’s performance plans on ice.

“Please don’t say [it’ll be] a few years, I want to be out this time next year, for sure,” he laughed.

One of the biggest problems, according to Wood, is that the music industry desperately needs someone to take leadership of the situation, to work out how bigger concerts and gigs might now work.

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“The thing is, there’s gotta be a time when somebody sorts out some direction of what we’ve got to do, somebody has got to lead this thing,” he told Sky News.

But do not assume Wood has spent his time in lockdown trapped inside, feeling sorry for himself.

Wood  has spent lockdown painting
Wood has spent his time during lockdown painting

In fact, he has spent most of the pandemic painting, producing almost 20 new art works within a matter of months, some of which are on show at the grand setting of Ashridge House, Hertfordshire.

Nearly 100 of his pieces are going on show, from original posters he drew to promote The Faces back in the 60s, through to the large-scale canvases he has worked on in recent years.

“I thought, I’m not going to let it depress me in anyway,” he said.

“Sometimes I may have a musical period or maybe it’s just the art and I don’t play the music. That’s what I’ve been doing lately – not playing. Not through choice. And I’m looking forward to the day when I can be playing again.

“But it’s been an honour spending a lot of the lockdown paying tribute to artists that turned me on at college and through my younger years. I did some tributes to Delacroix, to Picasso and El Greco.”

Wood's collection includes original posters he drew to promote The Faces back in the 60s
Wood’s collection includes original posters he drew to promote The Faces back in the 60s

While countless musicians would cite the Stones as being one of their biggest influences, if you want a clue as to who inspires Ronnie Wood, look no further than his paintings.

“I was painting before I even learned to play the drums and the guitar,” revealed Wood.

“El Greco – the Greek – was a favourite painter of me and my brothers. My brothers were at art school mixing with musicians and it went hand in hand.

“They were eight and 10 years older than me. They treated me with a lot of respect and encouraged me when I was in grey flannels.”

Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (L-R)
Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (L-R)

Wood says his love of painting is something he is trying to teach his four-year-old twin daughters, Gracie and Alice.

“They make an awful mess,” he said.

No stranger to selling out stadiums, tickets to Wood’s exhibition have proved similarly in demand – in a matter of hours, they were all gone.

For anyone who struggles to picture the Rolling Stone with brush in hand, embracing a more sedate way of life, he says the clue is in the content of his work.

“There’s an incredible amount of noise going on in those paintings. Anyone who gets up close to the painting can hear the din that’s actually coming out of it.”

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As for which is easier, the first few brush strokes on a canvas or writing a new a song – well, the jury is out for Wood.

“That’s life challenge. They’re equally difficult and equally as much pleasure, you know, and thank God I have that challenge because it keeps me going.”

The Ronnie Wood x Ashridge House exhibition runs from 21-27 August in Hertfordshire.

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