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Ron Wood Empties His Pockets on the Rolling Stones' Latest Tour

The guitarist dishes on good luck charms, having his own private pub, and getting punched by Keith Richards

December 29, 1994
Ron Wood and Keith Richards during The Rolling Stones' 'Voodoo Lounge' tour.
Ron Wood and Keith Richards during The Rolling Stones', 'Voodoo Lounge' tour.
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

It is a homey rock & roll scene in Ron Wood's San Antonio hotel suite: Scarves are draped over the lamps, hand-labeled tapes are scattered around, candles are burning. Wood bounds to the door with a Guinness Stout and a wide grin. "D'you have a minute?" he says. "I want to finish watching something." He returns to a chair, puts his glasses on and fixes a rapt eye to the TV screen. Stones video? Porn tape? No, it's an interview with Katharine Hepburn, who is in fine cranky form. "Tough old broad!" Wood cackles.

Meanwhile, Wood's pretty blond wife, Jo, bustles about, collecting dirty laundry and one-upping her husband with the occasional wry comment ("Slash stayed with us a week – I had to sneak down in the morning and get rid of all the bottles so the kids wouldn't see"). When Hepburn's interview is over, the genial Wood, clad in a white shirt, running shoes (what tha?) and black jeans that look to be a size 24, really begins rolling – pouring beers, cracking jokes. He eagerly displays his drawings ("This is one of my daughter"), music videos from his solo album, Slide on This ("They only play 'em on the Playboy Channel"), and pictures of his children. Wood and the Rolling Stones are currently winding up the U.S. leg of a stint on the road, which is shaping up to be the highest-grossing tour ever.

As his wife heads to the hotel's laundry room balancing a pile of clothes, Wood calls, "Jo. Jo. You don't need to wash those socks. I'll rinse 'em in the sink." She rolls her eyes and leaves. "I always rinse 'em in the sink," he says as he pours himself another beer. "Oh, well." He smiles and lifts his glass. "Cheers."

Name a few of the more surreal moments of the tour.
A.C. Cowlings was in our room – that was kinda surreal. He couldn't say much, obviously. He said hello and "great show" and stuff, but he didn't give anything away. One night my friend Harry Dean Stanton was playing guitar and singing in my room, and Sean Penn was reciting poetry – these five-minute blurts. His own bits. He was very good.

What has been the best show so far?
The second show in Las Vegas. Those people paid so much money, so I was expecting, like [yawns]. Those $300 people were absolute maniacs.

100 Greatest Artists of All Time: the Rolling Stones

You're the jokester of the group. When was the last time a band mate turned to you and said, "Knock it off, willya?!"
Every night. Oh, yeah. That last happened onstage the other night when I said to Mick, as I do most shows, "Stop looking at yourself!" He's looking at the Jumbotron monitor of himself instead of the audience.

You just saw your kids. What's a typical family activity?
We were all last together in San Francisco, and we went to the redwood forest and got lost in the woods for hours. And Jerry [Hall, Mick Jagger's wife] came with little Georgia and Elizabeth. We didn't have the little troublemaker Jimmy Jagger. [Laughs] We were a tribe.

Have any of your children pursued a musical career?
My son Jesse, who's 18, has a good band going. It's called Wood Spirit, funny enough. They're great.

Does he feel self-conscious playing in front of you?
He doesn't do it much around me. He never came to me for tips either. I was very surprised to see him play in Kingston, England, and his mum, my ex-wife, was at the door collecting. [Laughs.]

Which Rolling Stone would you turn to if you had a personal problem?
It depends. Like a love-life problem?

Sure.
Very difficult. None of them, if it was a love-life problem. But if it was a matter of life and death – like an illness – Mick. Contrary to popular belief, he's got a very caring side to him. And he would get, like, the air-sea rescue out. I've seen him do it a few times if somebody's ill. From the coffee boy on the crew to the most important, it doesn't matter. If somebody needs help, he springs to it. And, you know, so does Keith. And Charlie would, if you could get through to him – but once the gig's over, he closes all access.

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