A playlist ahead of this week's Rolling Stones London Walk – Street Fighting Men which meets at 2:30pm at Tottenham Court Road tube on Thursday…
Old Ron is The New Boy in the Rolling Stones: he didn't join until 1975!
His career in Rock'n'Roll goes back way longer than that. My playlist kicks off with two tracks from his first recording band The Birds. The Birds remain a great mystery for many of us: how did such a tight band, with such a big live following, fail to hit the big time?
They enjoy a faintly infamous footnote in the British Invasion story thanks to their brief managerial connection with South London gangsters the Richardsons (who later gained tabloid notoriety as The Torture Gang) and for their publicity stunt in which they approached The Byrds at London airport upon their arrival in 1965 with a writ accusing the "theft" of their name.
The three tracks from The Birds kick off with what many believe to be the definitive version of Leaving Here - a cover of the Holland-Dozier-Holland penned number, later tackled by Motörhead - the late Lemmy was a big fan of The Birds. Track three You're On My Mind was penned by Wood and perhaps goes some way to explain The Birds' ultimate failure – in attempting to bridge the gap between pop and R&B the band falls between two stools. The verse is pure Bo Diddley, the chorus clearly a tilt at the hit parade.
Tracks four and five come from Ron's stint with Jeff Beck, where he handled bass guitar duties. It was with The Jeff Beck Group that Wood fell-in with Rod Stewart and track six is from Stewart's finest hour An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down (1969). I've chosen Dirty Old Town from that album because Wood contributes harmonica to the track – a versatile fella to have around, ol' Ron Wood.
Tracks 7-10 showcase The Faces, the biggest party in the history of Rock'n'Roll - Wood & Stewart teaming up with McGlagen, Laine and Jones late-of-the-parish of The Small Faces.
The last track is the reggae-tinged opener to Wood's 1974 solo record, the title of which tells us just how in-demand Wood has been among his peers down through the years: it was called I've Got My Own Album to Do…
And here he is in back in '85 with Dylan and Keef at Live Aid…
At around the four-minute mark, you will see that Ron takes Dylan's guitar from him, gives him his own guitar and walks offstage mid-song. Dylan had broken a string an Ron gave up his instrument to keep the show going. This, for me, sums the man up. Cheers Ronnie!
A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.