Ron Wood: Keeping His Distance From The Rolling Stones Maintains The Magic

The days of catching one of more of the Rolling Stones palling around as they club-hopped across Manhattan in the '70s and '80s is a long ways away from 2019. During a new interview with Guitar.com, Ron Wood was asked if these days he and his bandmates still socialize outside of the recording studios and concert halls, with Wood explaining, "We do get together occasionally when we’re not working, but the magic is to keep it sparse between us. I’m so lucky to have my art as my other self-expression, to be able to put my creativity on a canvas when we’re not making music. No day is the same. Tomorrow, I’m doing a flamenco documentary. I’ll be painting a canvas of Paco Pena performing, taken from sketches I did at his last live show in London recently."

When pressed as to whether he and Keith Richards still remain close, Wood said, "Yeah, despite that we live in different countries. We are godparents to each other’s kids and our grown-up children are close. It’s like a big family when we’re together on the road, because everyone comes out to join us."

Wood was asked about whether or not after 55 years of being a professional musician, he still gets nervous before hitting the stage every night: "I do, but those are actually a nice feeling. It feels like you have to step up to the plate, it’s excitement and it makes life worth living."

Keith Richards and Charlie Watts have always made a point of explaining that once onstage they primarily focus on what the other man is playing. Wood added: "I’m listening to Charlie, but I’m also conscious to play behind the beat, and I’m hearing the general feel of the song, the vocals, too. But I balance between guitar and bass, as I must hit a balance between the other four."

As with all the Stones tour, Ron Wood and Keith Richards travel with an arsenal of instruments, with Wood revealing, "If we do 23 songs, as we did on the latest tour, I play 23 different guitars and every song is in a different tuning, too."

Ron Wood is excited about the Stones' upcoming dates, which kick off on April 20th in Miami Gardens, Florida, explaining that no two shows are the same: "We change it all up. Every song gets run through its paces and it’s never the same twice. It’s always brand new and fresh because we know the songs, but not too well, where they become routine or too polished -- which is great. And that’s where the element of risk is: our whole show can fall apart at any time and we love that feeling."

Over 43 years since first hitting the road with the Rolling Stones, Ron Wood says that he and Keith Richards have a sixth sense about how to intertwine their guitar work onstage: "That was something that Keith and I have always luckily had from the start. We never planned, as such, what we are gonna do individually. We have a knack of if one goes this way, the other one will slide in this way. On a certain number, we don't even look at each other. If I wanna take the solo, I'll take it, right? And if he wants to take it, he'll take it."

Keith Richards told us he attributes much of the Stones' longevity over the years to Ron Wood, who joined in time for the band's 1975 tour dates: "Definitely without Ronnie Wood, we wouldn't have had the cohesion to stick together. But, y'know, it was. . . he came along at just the right time. And with a guy like that around, you gotta hang around, 'cause he so damn funny (laughs)."