Although Ronnie Wood hasn’t been a fixture of The Rolling Stones since the beginning, he’s now the third longest-serving member of the group and has been part of The Stones for nearly 50 years. While he didn’t play on some of their most seminal work, Wood has helped keep the group together throughout countless testing times and helped define their legacy.
After joining the group in 1975, it didn’t take Wood long to acclimatise to his new setting, and he quickly became part of the furniture. He was already friendly with the group even before becoming an official member, and soon enough, Wood was making significant contributions to the band. Rather than sitting in the background and allowing The Glimmer Twins to take complete control of the band’s destiny.
On their 1980 album, Emotional Rescue, Wood stood up for himself and fought for what he thought was right. It would have been easier for him to back down, but he had a vision for the track, ‘Dance (Pt. 1)’ that he wanted to execute, and compromising his idea wasn’t even a contemplation for the guitarist.
For this reason, it’s Wood’s favourite track by The Stones, marking a change in the guard for the group. It’s one of their first songs that included him as a writer and a moment that showed his pivotal importance to The Rolling Stones.
Explaining his decision, Wood said: “I stuck up for myself, ’cause I picked a song that I wrote. I thought, ‘No one’s gonna mention that.’ But I think people, when they hear that song, they love it — because it’s really up, and it gets everyone dancing.”
Wood added: “They followed my lead, really. I had the whole riff, and I had an instrumental in mind, just to get the groove and the funk going. And then Mick jumped over it and he just … we didn’t have to talk much. He more or less said, ‘Let me loose on this,’ you know? ‘And I’ll set it on fire.’”
On another occasion, Wood elaborated on the song’s genesis: “‘Dance Pt. 1’ was one strong riff where Mick immediately took the bait, literally got up and danced to it, which was the whole idea of the track: it’s a catchy riff. That was an example of a song that originated without words, just a groove with various changes, but never a chorus. We did have various alternative mixes going at the time, but I can’t really tell the difference between Part I or Part II or Part III. It was just a novelty, the Pt. 1 bit.”
Wood had been in The Stones for five years, but ‘Dance Pt. 1’ was his coming-of-age moment and showed the rest of the group he wasn’t prepared to simply be a yes man. The guitarist didn’t want to be a session musician; he wanted to be a crucial cog, and here’s where he proved his worth.