Ronald David "Ronnie" Wood - AKA "Woody" - was born in Hillingdon, London, into a family of English "water gypsies"; river/canal barge operators, sometimes also called "bargees."
Wood began his career as a professional musician in 1964 as a guitarist with The Birds (NOT to be confused with the Byrds), an R&B band based in Yiewsley, West London. A popular live act, The Birds released several singles in the mid-60s; Wood wrote or co-wrote nearly half the songs the group recorded.
He then joined the mod group The Creation, but only remained with the group for a short time, and appeared on a small number of singles. Wood joined The Jeff Beck Group in 1968 as a bass player.
Along with vocalist Rod Stewart, Wood did several tours with Beck, and recorded two albums: Truth in 1968 and Beck-Ola in 1969. In between Jeff Beck Group projects Wood also worked with The Creation.
In 1969, after Steve Marriott left the Small Faces, Wood began playing guitar with the remaining members of that group.They, plus Rod Stewart and ex-Bird Kim Gardner, teamed up with Wood's brother Art Wood in a formation called Quiet Melon, making a handful of recordings in May 1969.
After the Jeff Beck Group's fifth US tour in July, Wood and Stewart joined the former Small Faces full-time, and the band's name was changed to Faces.
In the early 1970s, Faces released four studio albums and were among the top-grossing live acts of the period. Besides his guitar work, Wood contributed harmonica, vocals and bass to the band's recordings, and co-wrote many of their songs, including "Stay With Me" and "Ooh La La."
He also played on Stewart's first few solo albums, and is co-writer of the Rod Stewart songs "Gasoline Alley" and "Every Picture Tells a Story," as well as several songs on Never a Dull Moment.
In 1972, Wood and Faces bassist Ronnie Lane composed the soundtrack to the film Mahoney's Last Stand. The soundtrack was released as an LP in 1976. Wood also performed with Pete Townshend, Grech, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Eric Clapton at Clapton's Rainbow Concert in 1973.
In December 1973, Wood collaborated with Mick Jagger on the song "It's Only Rock'n Roll (But I Like It)." Then, Jagger and Keith Richards contributed to Wood's first solo album, I've Got My Own Album to Do, released in 1974.
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Following Mick Taylor's departure from the Rolling Stones in December 1974, Wood participated in the band's March 1975 recording sessions for their forthcoming album Black and Blue. Although still a member of the Faces, he toured North America with the Rolling Stones in 1975; the Faces announced their break-up in December of that year, and Wood was officially declared a member of the Rolling Stones in February 1976.
With the Rolling Stones, Wood plays the slide guitar, lap steel and pedal steel guitar. In addition, he exchanges roles on the guitar with Richards, often blurring the boundaries between rhythm and lead, even within a particular song.
He also occasionally plays bass guitar, as seen during 1975 concert performances of "Fingerprint File," when Mick Jagger played rhythm guitar and bassist Bill Wyman moved to synthesizer. The Rolling Stones single "Emotional Rescue" also features Wood on bass.
He has been credited as a co-writer for a dozen songs, including "Dance," "Black Limousine," "One Hit (to the Body)" and "Had It With You."
In 1975, Wood released his second solo album, Now Look; his third, Gimme Some Neck, came out in 1979. To promote it, Wood formed and toured with The New Barbarians, playing 20 concerts in Canada and the US in April/May and the Knebworth Festival in the UK in August.
Throughout the 1980s, Wood painted, played with The Rolling Stones, and continued his solo career, releasing the album 1234 in 1981and collaborated with a number of other artists, including Prince, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Bo Diddley, Ringo Starr and Aretha Franklin.
In 1990 Wood was made a fully-fledged partner in the Rolling Stones' financial organization. During the '90s the Rolling Stones released two studio albums and three concert albums, as well as touring in 1990, 1994–95 and 1997–99.
In addition, Wood released his seventh solo album, Slide On This, in 1992; he toured to promote this album in North America and Japan. His appearance in 1993 with Rod Stewart on MTV Unplugged resulted in a hit album entitled Unplugged...and Seated; the concert album that Wood released in 1993 from his own tour was called Slide On Live: Plugged In and Standing.
Wood also contributed to Bo Diddley's 1996 album A Man Amongst Men, playing slide guitar. Since 2000 Wood has continued to combine solo work with his Rolling Stones schedule. Following the 2001 release of his album Not For Beginners, Wood toured England and Ireland in 2001 and 2002 with his own group, The Ronnie Wood Band.
Wood is a renowned artist. When he was a child his drawings were featured on the BBC television programme Sketch Club. He went on to train at the Ealing Art College, as both his brothers had.
Wood's paintings, drawings and prints frequently feature icons of popular culture and have been exhibited all over the world.
Wood has three books to his credit: a short collection of autobiographical anecdotes entitled The Works, illustrated with Wood's artwork, co-authored by Bill German and published in 1988; a limited-edition art book entitled Wood on Canvas: Every Picture Tells a Story, published in 1998; and his 2007 autobiography Ronnie, written in collaboration with his son-in-law Jack MacDonald and Jeffrey Robinson.