We know Ronnie Wood as that eternally young rascal on the side of Keith Richards, as the second guitarist on the world stage of The Rolling Stones. Part of a pose, we know, and that other part of Wood’s personality, the easy-going talker with an artistic streak, is well covered in “Somebody Up There Likes Me”, a documentary by Mike Figgis (“Leaving Las Vegas”).
Figgis is also British, and Wood’s age. Immediately the conversation turns to alcohol and drugs, abundantly present in different phases of the life of the now clean, crass knar. Of course, music also plays an important role in the documentary, which continues pleasantly, as if you were part of a conversation between old friends.
In “Somebody Up There Likes Me” Figgis seeks the tranquility of a classical piano when he portrays Wood, accompanied by Damien Hirst, in painting. As a student at the art academy, Ronnie already had to navigate between art and music. In the present that imbalance has disappeared, although there is often a concert tour of the Stones in between, once every few years.
Mick Jagger is speaking, with a heavy English accent referring to the London jazz scene in which the Stones made their debut, Richards, Charlie Watts and Rod Stewart have their say. Well-preserved gentlemen, old chap. The blues, that’s where the young dogs of yesteryear felt more at home. Old cake, but tasty cake.
“Woodie” hinted a bit in the swinging sixties, but meanwhile played with Jeff Beck and the aforementioned Rod Stewart in the Jeff Beck Group. You don’t hear that too often anymore, but nice and raw, even more than half a century later. He was even offered a place in Led Zeppelin by a shadowy manager.
Later it becomes The Faces (again with Stewart) and then came the Stones. For 45 years now, Wood has been filling the gaps in Keef’s riffs. “Being in the right place, in the right time”, he says himself. Humble guy: on the acoustic guitar, singing, you’d still think he had a solo career. It never happened. The reason is easy to guess: Ronnie Wood is the ideal foreman.