Ronald David "Ron" (or "Ronnie") Wood is a British guitarist who's played in many groups -- the Creation, the Jeff Beck Group, the Faces, and, most famously, the Rolling Stones, as well as some solo work and playing on his friends' albums. He was born on June 1, 1947, in Hillingdon, London, England, and grew up in a small council house with a family who all seem to have been very into music. Wood has said of his childhood home, "The house was so tiny that we couldn't get the upright piano into the main room so it was lodged in the doorway." As a teenager, he attended St. Martin's Secondary Modern school and then Ealing College of Art in London, a few years behind members of the Who and the Kinks. He achieved his A-level in art a year earlier than usual.
However, music was as great a passion as visual art for him. After playing in several local bands, in 1968, Wood filled in on guitar with mod band The Creation. But his real fame seems to have started when he and Kim Gardner of the Creation joined the group Jeff Beck, formerly of the Yardbirds, was forming (with singer Rod Stewart). The Jeff Beck Group released two classic albums, 1968's "Truth" and 1969's "Beck-Ola", with Wood playing bass, but the group broke up in 1969, only a few weeks before they would have played Woodstock; "the vibes weren't any good," Wood said of the Beck Group.
Not long before, singer Steve Marriott had left the band the Small Faces and its other members needed replacements; Wood (back to playing guitar) and Rod Stewart stayed together and joined the Small Faces, who became the Faces after one more album, partially because their sound had changed a lot from the Small Faces' 1960s pop-rock, to a Rolling Stones-esque sloppy rock and roll. The Faces released four studio albums, but Stewart was releasing solo albums at the same time and his solo hits like "Reason to Believe" and "Maggie May" made him a bigger star than his band, even while the band had a hit, "Stay with Me," and according to Wood, were the second biggest concert draw of the era (after the Rolling Stones).
Urban legend says that Wood was suggested as a possible replacement in the Rolling Stones for Brian Jones, who had been fired from the Rolling Stones in 1969, but that Wood missed a phone call and Mick Taylor was chosen instead. (Some versions of the story have Ronnie Lane of the Small Faces taking the call and either thinking the offer was for him or answering on Wood's behalf so that he would not lose a group member.) Wood has confirmed that he was considered but told the story in slightly different ways in different interviews, certainly making it sound like he didn't consider it a great missed opportunity at the time. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' remarks on the choice of Taylor seem to indicate that as soon as they played with him, no one else was seriously considered. In any case, Wood would end up as the next replacement in the Stones when Mick Taylor left in 1975.
The Faces broke up in 1975, partly because of Stewart's fame without the group, and Wood released several solo albums during the mid-1970s (the first amusingly titled "I've Got My Own Album To Do"). However, he was one of Keith Richards' first choices by this point to work with the Stones, although the band auditioned many guitarists (according to Wood, the list included Eric Clapton). But Wood was chosen to work on the 1975 album "Black and Blue" and perform with the Stones on tour, though it was a while before he was officially announced to be a member of the band (and according to one site he was paid a salary rather than an equal share of profits until 1989). In addition to being a member of the Rolling Stones in the later 1970s, Wood also released an album with Ronnie Lane and in 1979 toured with Keith Richards in a one-off side band, The New Barbarians. (A live album from this tour was eventually released in 2006.)
Throughout the 1980s, Wood continued to work with the Stones when they were working together (as tensions between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards caused some long gaps between Stones tours during this period). Then and into the next two decades, he's guested on many other artists' recordings, opened a (now-defunct) club ("Woody's on the Beach") in Miami Beach, Florida, and spent more time on the art he studied for earlier in his life. "It is on natural to find him with a pencil as with a guitar," according to his biography on the website of the Limelight Agency, who represent him in his art endeavors. Wood has used a lot of different techniques - pencil sketching, painting, printmaking by etching, drypoint, screenprint and digital printmaking. He's done several one-man exhibitions of his artwork. "When I first started all this, it was mostly music fans that came along, Stones fans. But now, I'm being taken seriously. I've got highfalutin' art collectors and everything! " he says.
Wood has struggled with alcoholism for a long time, most recently spending time in rehab in the summer of 2006. He has been a notorious partier throughout his rock career, and in August 2005 said "I try to control my drinking. My therapists are with me on tour... (E)ach day is a new fight. But in the end you give up, you can only capitulate. I've lost the fight... This addiction is much stronger than me. That's why I have a strong team around me, caring for me.." Presumably this includes his wife of 20 years, the former Jo Howard. Wood and his first wife, Krissie, divorced in 1977 when Wood's affair with Jo was found out; Krissie was the mother of Wood's first child, Jesse. (Krissie committed suicide by overdose in June 2005 after splitting up with a long-term boyfriend.) Ron and Jo married in 1985; they have two children together and Jo has one from a previous marriage. They live, when not on tour (since Jo accompanies Ron as his assistant), in one home in Richmond, Surrey, England or their other in Ireland. Jo has had her own alcohol problems in the past, but a difficult health experience with a perforated appendix being misdiagnosed as Crohn's Disease made her an advocate of health and organic foods, and even cooks them for her husband while the Stones are touring. (She also has a line of organic beauty products.)