At 70, Ronnie Wood gets a new lease on life | Music | DW | 01.06.2017
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At 70, Ronnie Wood gets a new lease on life

Once so messed up on drugs and alcohol that Keith Richards allegedly put a gun to his head, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood has made it to 70. Soon to tour again with Stones, he has many reasons to celebrate.

Ron Wood took a few musical detours before finding his way to the Rolling Stones. His career began in the early 1960s as a guitarist with the British rhythm and blues band, The Birds. He also played bass with the Jeff Beck Group and eventually joined the Small Faces together with Rod Stewart.

Soon known as the Faces, the English act was celebrated by the critical US music press. The band also liked to celebrate, and were often just as drunk as the people in the audience - Wood had been drinking heavily since the age of 14. Later in the night, the band infamously liked to celebrate by destroying their hotel room.

Members of Faces (Getty Images/Express/D. Stone)

Faces in 1974: Kenny Jones, Ron Wood and Rod Stewart

Calm amidst the storm

Meanwhile, the Rolling Stones had just lost their guitarist Mick Taylor and were looking for a substitute able to hold a beer, a cigarette and a guitar at the same time. The Stones asked Wood - with whom they had previously played in the studio - to join them on a US tour.

The apprentice impressed. By the end of 1975, as the Faces officially disbanded, Wood was a permanent member of the Rolling Stones, the band he said he knew he would one day join after first seeing them perform in 1964.

Initially, Wood was hired as a Stones employee who received a monthly salary - and who did not share in the mega profits of "Rolling Stones Inc." He didn't seem to mind. But in 1993, Wood was granted full membership status with the Rolling Stones - he and the band had already been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

Ron Wood (Imago/i Images)

Ronnie Wood in front of his painting "Electric Horses" at his 2013 exhibition

Known for his stoic and calm demeanor, Wood was able to negotiate the sex, drugs and debauchery that came with playing in the world's biggest rock group. He was also able stand between the Stones' two alpha males, Mick Jagger and Keith Richard, when they were squabbling. His playing was the perfect complement to main guitarist, Keith Richards. "Rolling Stone" magazine once described the "guitarists' near-telepathic affinity."   

Rock 'n' roll survivor

In 2008, 60-year-old Wood was infamously in and out of rehab for alcoholism and had left his second wife for an 18-year-old Russian waitress, Ekaterina Ivanova.

Nine years later, Wood is now sober and happily married again - and busy with baby twin girls.

Großbritannien London - Rolling Stones auf rotem Teppich (Imago/APress)

Ronnie Wood (second left) and The Rolling Stones in London, 2016

He will also soon be back on the road for the "Stones - No Filter" tour this September. Starting on September 9 in Hamburg, a total of 13 concerts are planned across nine European countries.

And after having just had successful surgery to remove a small lung lesion found during a recent routine screening, the rock 'n' roll warrior and once heavy smoker is set to live on.

"No additional treatment is necessary, and the Stones' European tour will not be affected," read a statement on the Rolling Stones Facebook page.  

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