Posts Tagged ‘the Birds’

Ronnie Wood in 20 Songs

Ronald David Wood, artist, songwriter, and one of Britain’s finest, and possibly most underrated, guitar players was born on 1st June 1947. His is a musical family: Ronnie’s older brother Art formed the Artwoods, who included Jon Lord, later to a co-founder of Deep Purple, and drummer Keef Hartley, who played with John Mayall and later had his own band.

Ronnie Wood’s first group was a West London R & B outfit that he co-founded as a 16-year-old. The Birds released a string of singles, with much of their material written by Ronnie, but by 1967 he had joined The Jeff Beck Group, as the bass player, along with singer Rod Stewart and Micky Waller on drums. The Beck group recorded two classic albums, and ‘Plynth (Water Down The Drain)’ is a track from their second, Beck-Ola. He also briefly played with The Creation, a band formed by ex-Bird Kim Gardner.

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In 1969 Art Wood formed Quiet Melon, with Ronnie, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, Ian McLagan and Kim Gardner. They cut four songs for Fontana but they went unreleased and soon after the band split with the two Ronnies, Rod, Kenney and Ian going on to form The Faces. Ronnie Lane, Ian and Kenney had of course played together in the Small Faces.

Just prior to the Faces forming, Rod Stewart got a solo contract with Vertigo Records and recorded An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Downon which Ronnie played guitar and bass, as well as harmonica on ‘Dirty Old Town.’

A month later, The Faces released their debut album and it featured several Ronnie Wood co-written songs, including ‘Around The Plynth’ which showcases Ronnie’s excellent slide guitar playing. The album “Long Player”which followed in 1971, included ‘Sweet Lady Mary’;A Nod Is As Good As a Wink… To A Blind Horse, later that same year, included the Faces anthem ‘Stay With Me’, again co-written by Ronnie. The Faces swansong was 1973’s “Ooh La La” , which had another of Ronnie’s songs, written with Ian McLagan and Rod Stewart, ‘Cindy Incidentally’.

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In between making the Faces records, Rod Stewart also recorded his own solo albums, with the second, Gasoline Alley in 1970, breaking through into the UK album chart, with its title song coming from the pens of Rod and Ronnie; it again features Ronnie Wood’s by now trademark slide. 1971’s Every Picture Tells A Story was the big one for Rod Stewart, topping the charts in both Britain and America. Once again the title song is a Ronnie and Rod co-write. In 1972 “Never a Dull Moment” came out, which included Ronnie’s co-write,‘True Blue’ as its opening track. Rod and Ronnie’s last collaboration was on “Smiler” (1974). ‘Sailor’ comes from this album and it’s so typical of their recording together.

In late 1973, the seeds of Ronnie Wood’s future career were sown when, along with Mick Jagger, David Bowie as backing singer, Willie Weeks on bass and Kenney Jones on drums, they recorded the basic track that became ‘It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)’ in the studio at Wood’s house, “The Wick” in Richmond, London. In 1974 both Jagger and Keith Richards played on Ronnie’s first solo album, “I’ve Got My Own Album to Do”.

After Mick Taylor quit the Rolling Stones in December 1974, Ronnie helped with the recording of their album “Black and Blue” in the spring of 1975. From this album comes ‘Hey Negrita,’ on which Wood plays lead and is credited on the album as ‘inspiring’ the song. Two days before Ronnie’s 28th birthday he played his first live gig with the Stones on their 1975 Tour of the Americas…and he’s been with them ever since.

From 1980’s “Emotional Rescue” the title track, which features Ronnie’s distinctive ‘lead bass playing’. A year later from “Tattoo You” is ‘Black Limousine,’ a co-write from Ronnie Wood with Mick Jagger and Keith Richard. According to Ronnie, “‘Black Limousine’ came about from a slide guitar riff that was inspired in part by some Hop Wilson licks from a record that I once owned… And there was another guy called Big Moose, who I’ve never heard of before or since…he was an old slide guitar guy who had one particular lick that he would bring in every now and again. I thought, ‘That’s really good, I’m going to apply that’ – and so subconsciously I wrote the whole song around that one little lick, building on it, resolving it and taking it round again.” It’s an outstanding song

From the same year we’ve included one of Ronnie’s songs from his solo album,”1234″. ‘Fountain of Love’ shows Wood’s love for R&B; the album also featured Bobby Womack on guitar.

With the Rolling Stones hiatus in the 1980s, Ronnie worked with Keith Richard as the New Barbarians and collaborated with others including, including Prince, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Eric Clapton,Ringo Starr and Aretha Franklin. By 1990 when the Rolling Stones were back on the road with their Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle tour, Ronnie Wood’s guitar was integral to both their live shows and their albums recorded over the last two decades.

The Rolling Stones’ 1995 “Stripped” project features Ronnie’s deft slide guitar on ‘Love In Vain,’ the song had been included on the album “Let It Bleed”. When Ronnie’s slide guitar comes in about half way through the number, it turns it into one of the finest readings of this classic blues tune. We’ve also featured ‘Happy’ from Live Licks, which Keith Richard sings but Ronnie Wood helps to make such a great song with his excellent slide playing.

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In 2010 Ronnie released “I Feel Like Playing”, his seventh studio album; naturally, he did the cover art, and it is a great record. It features a string of guests and opens with Ronnie’s song, ‘Why You Wanna Go And Do A Thing Like That For’ which shows his love for Dylan but also his skill as a songwriter. It sounds like a song that must have been recorded by everyone and deserves to be more widely heard: a 21st century classic.

We finish our Ronnie Wood In 20 Songs with ‘Forever’, the closer from I Feel Like Playing, which features Slash on second guitar and we thought it the best way to go out. Get the low down on Ronnie’s exciting new book from the man himself. To pre-order a copy head over to Genesis Publications here:http://bit.ly/1QIJhLT

With his new book launch ‘How Can it Be? A Rock & Roll Diary’. The book is a deluxe reproduction of his ‘lost’ 1965 diary that chronicles a pivotal year in his life, playing in his first band The Birds and includes encounters with Jeff Beck, The Who, and Eric Clapton to name just a few.

Annie Nightingale & Bob Harris joined Ronnie on stage sharing in the stories and memories as everyone was treated to some great insight into the year that shaped his future. Also, on hand was Ali McKenzie, lead singer of The Birds, who was swapping tales of rehearsing in shop windows, gigs in Ealing and most importantly getting paid.

Ronnie Wood also previewed his new single, ‘How Can It Be?’, as well giving the audience a first look into some of the diary pages and the exclusive artwork he created for the book. Hats off to Ron’s mum for keeping the diary in the back of a drawer for all these years and the guys at Genesis Publications for creating a wonderful keepsake of an important part of rock history.

We hope Ronnie Wood plays forever, and continues to gather plaudits for his playing, just as he is on the latest Stones tour, on which his guitar playing has been described as “Awesome”. That’ll be seconded by all

Happy birthday, Ronnie.

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