In a plush basement suite of a west London hotel, Ronnie Wood is carefully studying a small rectangular package containing something he thought he would never see.It is a newly minted book – Ronnie Wood: Artist – containing hundreds of stunning images of paintings, sculptures, sketches and woodcuts he has made over the past 50 years. And luckily someone down here likes me too.’ The Rolling Stone is referring to his long love affair with alcohol, cocaine and heroin, which fuelled his reputation – alongside that of Keith Richards – as the greatest hell-raiser in the rock ’n’ roll firmament.‘I’ve had a fight with a touch of lung cancer,’ he says with a nervous laugh that does little to disguise the still-evident shock in his eyes.‘There was a week when everything hung in the balance and it could have been curtains – time to say goodbye.Sally [Humphreys, his wife of five years] was amazing.It’s only since we’ve got through it that she has been able to tell me how it was the worst seven days of her life.He asked me what I wanted to do and my answer was simple: “Just get it out of me.” ‘But then there was a week of tests.
He no longer drinks, he doesn’t smoke (‘I’ve even kicked the ecigarettes – what’s the point?
He recalls his most memorable collaboration with Dylan when he and Richards performed alongside him at Live Aid in 1985.
Not only did Dylan decide at the last moment to perform two songs they had never rehearsed (Ballad Of Hollis Brown and When The Ship Comes In), but his guitar broke in the middle of Blowin’ In The Wind. ‘I handed Bob my guitar so he could carry on and looked round thinking someone backstage may have a guitar, but there was absolutely no one backstage because we had literally just showed up on our own.
If that had happened it would have been all over for me.
‘So there was this one week when I didn’t know what was happening.