Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood’s Top Five Tips For Young Musicians

Rolling Stones legend Ronnie Wood has spent over 50 years in the music biz , so he knows what he’s talking about. Here’s the guitarist on his top five tips for young bands making it today…

Make the music your own

“My first band The Birds hung out with all the greats – The Who, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and so on – but we were learning the ropes. We may not have had a hit record but we did our best. We took our influences from Tamla Motown, the blues and early rock’n’roll, and made it our own. That was important.”


Ronnie Wood: ‘How Can It Be?’ A Rock & Roll Diary from Genesis Publications on Vimeo.

Play hundreds of shows

“There’s a lot to be said for the grind – going up and down the country in a van, playing gig after gig after gig. I feel sorry for bands now that aren’t exposed to that way of life. For so many, they think it’s either straight on in front of millions of people or they’re destined to be forgotten, but there is another way; it involves cutting your teeth the hard way, and it can be a slog, but it can be done. Rehearsing in a garage, getting in the gig wagon and playing hundreds of shows, that’s what it’s all about. More young bands should try it.”

Dream big

“I always knew, even when I was in The Birds, that I was going to be in The Rolling Stones. I was going to be in that band one way or another, and I would broadcast the fact. I thought it looked like a good job, and it turns out that it is. It goes to show you can set your sights on something and get it, if you think big and put in the work.”

Know your bandmates inside out

“Touring in those days, we were all piled in the van on top of each other and all the gear. It was rough, but it meant we knew each other inside out. There was backbiting and arguing, being that hemmed in, and situations would come up
that no-one would normally have to deal with. The Stones went through the same thing, too. Even though we travel a lot more luxuriously now, that grounding means we can all deal with all sorts of situations.”

Keep a diary

“If you’re lucky like me you’ll be so busy you won’t have time to remember all the great things you did. Going back through my diary from 1965 I remembered I bumped into Sid James one night. And another entry reads: ‘Had a great time with Wilson Pickett.’ ‘In The Midnight Hour’ was the biggest record there was for me, but I’d forgotten all about our adventure together until I picked up the diary again. One regret I have, going back through this diary, is that I can’t remember what a lot of my girlfriends looked like years ago. I don’t regret the drinking – I drank for Britain until I got sober five years ago – that was a learning curve I had to go through, but not remembering the wonderful girls is a regret.”