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August Issue
more... ArtistsGuitaristsRockNovember 2010Ron Wood

Ron Wood: The Can-Do Man

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Ron Wood: The Can-Do Man

Photo by Jack English


Click here to watch video excerpts from this interview.
If September 23, 2010, had a single unifying theme, it had to be “seize the moment.” At least for Ronnie Wood and a handful of heavy-duty guitar fans who happened to be in New York City that day. Premier Guitar’s editorial director, Joe Coffey, and I had gone there to seize the rare opportunity to interview the Rolling Stone about his new solo album, I Feel Like Playing, and we’d certainly done our best to begin the adventure in keeping with the “seize the moment” theme: After touching down at JFK airport the night before, we’d jumped at the chance to eat at an Italian restaurant that, with all its vinyl and shades of brown, had to be straight out of The Godfather. And on the morning of the interview, we jumped at the chance to be personally led through NYC’s labyrinthine public transit system by Sandy, a stereotype-busting Brooklyn native who happened to overhear us asking about the best route to Wood’s hotel.

And that was just the beginning of the seize fest. After changing trains a couple of times and getting yelled at by a very disturbed woman in Grand Central Terminal, we finally arrived at the unbelievably swank New York Palace Hotel. We were pretty early for our interview with Wood, which was scheduled for 2 p.m. So, we stowed our bags and took advantage of the intervening hours to briefly take in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Radio City Music Hall, vintage and boutique guitars at Rudy’s Music, and the best lamb gyro ever (only four bucks from a street vendor!).

But the whole time we were hyper-cognizant of how easily our trip could fall apart. We had to catch a 4 o’clock train to another event (see the Experience PRS story on p. 204), which meant there was pretty much zero wiggle room if Woods’ other interviews went long. We’d be left high and dry. So we made a point of getting back to the hotel an hour early, knowing full well that things can change on a dime when you’re dealing with a mega star.

And in this case, they did.

See, it seems we weren’t the only ones doing all the carpe diem-ing that day. It turned out Wood had been invited to lunch with Mick Jagger, President Bill Clinton, and President Obama. The two presidents were in town for the UN General Assembly, and apparently they’re big guitar nuts, too, so they rang up some pals. When we let Wood’s people know we were there, they said, “Good, we’ll send someone for you in 10 minutes.” We were the last group of journalists to talk to Wood before the afternoon’s interview schedule was pretty much obliterated by presidential order.

So we seized, baby, we seized. (Be sure to check out HD video excerpts at premierguitar. com.) You could say everyone there—us, the presidents, Jagger, Wood—was seizing the moment, really. But as we soon found out, that’s kind of been Wood’s MO his whole life. “I always try the impossible,” he told us. “Always think, ‘Yeah, I can do that.’ Nine times out of 10 it works.”

Indeed, at 63, Wood seems to be seizing more opportunities now than ever. An accomplished painter, he had just come from opening his own exhibit at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. He’s got his own line of clothes at UK-based Liberty department store. Just a few months ago he reunited with his former Faces bandmates and plans to tour with them next year. He took the stage with Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, Derek Trucks, and John Mayer at the Crossroads Festival earlier this year. And his new album features guest spots by Billy Gibbons, Slash, Kris Kristofferson, Bobby Womack, and Eddie Vedder, among others. As if that weren’t enough, he’s working on plans to take I Feel Like Playing to Broadway with the cast of Britain’s Stomp dance troupe.

Despite being as giddy about his lunch date as we were to be in his 40th-floor corner suite, Wood was the complete gentleman as we discussed his favorite gear and what it was like to cut tracks with Slash and Gibbons—and not once did he rush the interview or act like he had to scram for more important company.
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