Ronnie Wood, 72, feels lucky to still be alive after drug and booze addiction and beating lung cancer – The Sun
RONNIE Wood has revealed he feels “lucky to still be alive” after battling drug and booze addiction and beating cancer.
The legendary Rolling Stones guitarist told how he believes a guardian angel watched over him through his darkest hours.
Ronnie, 72, said: “I’ve calmed down a bit but I’m still crazy. I’m very surprised that I’m still here.
“I believe there is a power greater than us all, whatever that spirit is. But it’s wonderful it has taken care of me. Maybe a guardian angel, more like.
“It’s lovely to still have my life after the cancer and surviving all the dope and the alcohol. Somebody up there does like me — I’m so lucky.”
This week the rocker looked blissfully happy as he took his three-year-old twins Alice Rose and Gracie Jane — dressed in matching leopard-print coats and pink ear guards — to watch the Carnaby Street Christmas lights switch-on with his wife, theatre producer Sally, 41.
They married in a private ceremony in December 2012.
Today, Ronnie — known as one of the greatest hellraisers in rock alongside bandmate Keith Richards — reveals that his family, beating cancer in 2017 and his love of art have transformed his life.
He said: “It’s a new life and it makes me appreciate every day and every hour that goes by. I’m grateful.”
Doctors discovered Ronnie’s cancer in May 2017 during a routine check-up and he had a five-hour operation to remove part of his lung.
He said: ‘There was a week when everything hung in the balance and it could have been curtains — time to say goodbye.”
He acknowledges that most people would not have survived what his body has gone through — and he was lucky to have it diagnosed.
He said: “A lot of people didn’t know that they had a cancer, for instance, and they carried on and it got them. But luckily we have an MoT every now and again, and the tour medicals and stuff, and that’s where you find, ‘Oh, I better check this and that.’ ”
Today, one of dad-of-six Ronnie’s greatest joys is tucking his daughters into bed and singing them off to sleep.
He said: “I put them to bed whenever I can.
“Between Sally and me we have a good relationship with these little girls. They sleep from about ten until ten.”
And already he is instilling a love of great music in his youngest two, including dancing with them to Chuck Berry songs.
He said: “When they are happy I say, ‘Are you happy?’ and they say, ‘Chuck Berry!’ Once his girls are sound asleep, he stays up, often until morning, indulging in a more harmless addiction — painting.
Ronnie has decorated each of his homes in Barcelona, Ireland and London with his work, which is influenced by Picasso and Rembrandt.
He said: “I’m still a night owl. I’m still up all night. Always creating, never resting.
“I’m either painting or playing all the time, still. It’s too late to change. It’s embedded in me.”
His obsession with keeping busy has also seen Ronnie record a new album, Mad Lad — perhaps not surprisingly a tribute to Chuck Berry.
It is the first of three albums he plans to record in tribute to the stars who had the most influence on him musically.
He will also be performing in London, Manchester and Birmingham and has a documentary on his life, named Somebody Up There Likes Me, hitting cinemas soon.
He admits he has “always been a party animal”, having entered rehab six times in the past 20 years due to a recurring love affair with booze, cocaine and heroin.
He was reportedly so entrenched in his drug addiction that he would carry a Bunsen burner to parties to freebase cocaine — heating it and inhaling the fumes to achieve a purer “high”.
Ronnie, who has now been sober for nine years, said: “Nowadays I don’t go out and party like I used to.
“I had a good innings, I had a good time back then. But that’s what we did.”
Now that he is clean, he intends to keep performing until he dies.
He said: “I think Howlin’ Wolf was plugged into a kidney machine on stage before he died. So that’s what we do — we keep playing.
“I was in the hands of destiny all my life and being in the right place at the right time. I still feel young.
“There’s lots more to do. I’ve got lots of art, lots of music and hopefully the Stones will go out next year.
“I’ll keep going out and promoting my different projects.”
In Somebody Up There Likes Me — out later this month — Ronnie also talks about the challenge of staying sober.
He says: “It’s very difficult because you go through a period of dry and you go, ‘I’ve done it. I’ve cleaned up now. I can just have one.
“And that is a big mistake because you can’t.
“I probably like things too much, which is harmless for some things, like music, but harmful in ways like dope and drink.”
Recalling the days when he used to carry his Bunsen burner around, he said: “I felt that with the base, the freebase, it was controlling me.
“I had no control over it. It took me about three years to get off it.
“It’s incredibly powerful, it ruled everything. Getting high with that pipe was frightening.
“You do anything for it and I can understand why people killed for it. I enjoyed the s**t out of it, took it with me wherever I went. I thought it was the best thing going.
“I would take it to parties and go, ‘Everybody try this,’ get a great big Bunsen burner out, the pipes, the works, freebase and everything. And people would be going, ‘You’re f***ing crazy,’ but I would love it.”
“Although I wouldn’t recommend it, I had some really good spiritual awakenings during my using years.”
So what is his advice to others who are in the grip of addiction for becoming a survivor like himself?
Ronnie replied simply: “Give it up when you think you’ve had a good innings.”
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