Ronnie Wood Explains His Jealousy Of The Who

Meta Description: Discover how Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones reflects on early jealousy towards The Who in the competitive 1960s London music scene.

The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood on Early Jealousy Towards The Who

Imagine the scene: a burgeoning British rock movement, overflowing with raw talent and hungry ambition. The Rolling Stones, already electrifying audiences with their blues-infused rock and roll, were undeniably on the rise.

Yet, amidst the whirlwind of their own success, a tinge of envy bubbled beneath the surface. As Ronnie Wood himself recalls, even the Stones couldn’t help but watch their contemporaries achieve breakout success, a feeling most aspiring musicians know all too well.

In this article, we’ll explore Wood’s reflections on those early days, a time when even the legendary Rolling Stones grappled with a touch of jealousy towards The Who.

Ronnie Wood’s Shifting Perspective

Ronnie Wood’s experience with The Rolling Stones differed from core members like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. While the latter duo built the band from its foundation, Wood joined later. This distinction likely played a role in his early perspective. Jagger and Richards could fixate on their own path, witnessing The Rolling Stones’ rise with a singular focus. Wood, however, wasn’t always part of that journey.

Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, Wood bounced between bands, playing with The Jeff Beck Group and The Faces. Both were undeniably influential in the rock scene. However, the constant movement in his career, always chasing that defining breakthrough with a band, could have created a breeding ground for envy.

The success of his peers, while he wasn’t quite there yet with The Stones, might have struck a different chord for him compared to Jagger and Richards.

London’s Explosive Music Scene

The London music scene of the 1960s and 70s was a breeding ground for legends. Every corner seemed to hold a band destined for greatness, and Ronnie Wood found himself immersed in this electrifying atmosphere.

Local venues buzzed with the energy of history-defining acts, their songs taking shape on stages just down the street. Week by week, Wood and his fellow musicians witnessed the birth of timeless anthems, a constant reminder of the creative explosion happening around them.

One song that stands out in Wood’s memory is “I Can’t Explain”, The Who’s powerhouse second single released in 1964, just a year after the band’s formation. Pete Townshend and his crew seemed to effortlessly crash through the doors to success. Their meteoric rise, from new kids on the block to dominating the music scene, couldn’t have been more evident. As Wood and his own band watched on, a sense of envy bubbled to the surface. The raw talent and immediate impact of their peers couldn’t help but fuel the competitive fire within them.

A Friendly Rivalry In Ealing

Ronnie reminisced about a time of fierce yet lighthearted competition amongst London’s rising stars. In an interview with Louder Sound, he recalled encountering Pete Townshend, his future neighbor, back in their early band days. “I first met Pete back in the old Ealing Club days when The Who first had ‘I Can’t Explain’ in the charts,” Wood shared. “I was in The [Yard]Birds, and they were going: ‘We’re number one!’ And we were going: ‘Fuck off back to Acton!’”

Despite the colorful language, Wood readily admits, “We were so jealous.” However, there’s a humorous twist to the story. While the memory clearly sparked a competitive spirit within Wood and his bandmates, it turns out The Who weren’t quite as dominant as they seemed. In reality, “I Can’t Explain” only reached number eight on the UK charts.

Their first true chart-topper wouldn’t come until 1971 with the iconic album Who’s Next. Although they did brush shoulders with the top spot in 1965 with the massive hit “My Generation”, peaking at number two, it appears The Who’s playful taunting was more lighthearted banter than a true victory lap.

Respectful Admiration

Despite the early sting of envy, Wood reflects fondly on that era’s vibrant music scene. “The High Numbers were brilliant,” he reminisces, referring to The Who’s pre-fame incarnation, “and the early Who, especially at the Marquee, were incredible.” He acknowledges their enduring talent, stating, “They’re still great today, but there was nothing quite so electric as the original line-up.”

However, time would offer a satisfying twist. In 1975, Wood secured a permanent spot with The Rolling Stones, solidifying his place in rock and roll royalty. The Stones’ commercial success speaks for itself.

With eight UK number-one singles and a staggering twelve number-one albums, one can’t help but wonder if the tables might have turned in the jealousy department. Perhaps, with a touch of playful humor, Wood suggests that the envy might now lie with Townshend.

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