I was drowned, I was washed up and left for dead

    February 2004: Keith Richards is holidaying in the Caribbean.

    February 26, 2004: Ron Wood performs with Rod Stewart at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Ron Wood (February 2004): The Stones back on the road

We have to clear the engine room first. We have to clear Charlie first. If he's willing, I think the rest of us will be.


Early March 2004: After only four months off work, the Rolling Stones gather and hold a meeting in Paris,
    France, to discuss their next album and tour plans.

Keith Richards (2005): The phone call

I usually wait for a phone call from Mick, which is usually about a year after the tour finishes. He'll go, Shouldn't we be doing something? And I'll say, OK, let's get together, you know.


    March 15, 2004: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are at the 19th annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Awards ceremonies
        at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, the former inducting Jann Wenner, the latter ZZ Top. Keith Richards takes
        part in the end of the evening's jam with Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder and others.

Ron Wood (March 2004): Dear doctor, please help me, I'm damaged

The doctors said that if I give up smoking now I can nip it in the bud - I still have powerful lungs. But they say if I smoke for another year, I could get emphysema and - boom - my lungs could collapse. When they did the scan on my lungs they also did my liver and kidneys and said they are in remarkably good shape for someone who has put what I've put through them.

In the old days I would start with about eight pints of Guinness then go on to the vodka, a couple of bottles of that. Then go on to Sambuca, a bottle of that. And that was every day... It started with the Faces.... Then Keith, he was a great drinking partner of mine and Rod was too. Basically everybody I met was a drinker.

Mick is very supportive. He didn't threaten me at all. There were stories that I was going to be kicked out of the Stones. That's all bollocks. He just came as a friend and said, Ronnie, you can't just have one can you? Please. I love you. Help yourself. 

I still wear my little medallion. I say my Serenity Prayer every day. But I still find it very hard to walk past an open bar. Every day is a challenge. I just don't like to be surrounded by the booze because it's too tempting... Alcoholism runs in my family. It's in my blood. My grandparents, my parents, my brothers, everybody in my family is an alcoholic. So I'm setting a new trend here and it's bloody hard work. Everybody says I would be dead if I'd carried on drinking.


    March 19, 2004: Mick Jagger attends a cricket match in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

    March 24, 2004: Charlie Watts is interviewed on UK radio.

    March 30 & April 1, 2004: Ron Wood joins Stereophonics and Jools Holland's band onstage at London's Royal Albert

    April 5-17, 2004: The Charlie Watts Tentet reunites after three years and holds a residency at Ronnie Scott's in
        London, England.

    April 8, 2004: Ron Wood joins Kenney Jones and others for a Ronnie Lane tributre concert at the Royal Albert Hall in

    April 17, 2004: Ron Wood attends the Charlie Watts Tentet's last performance at Ronnie Scott's.

    Late April-May 2004: Mick Jagger holds recording sessions with Dave Stewart at Abbey Road Studios in London,
        England, for the soundtrack to the film Alfie.

    April 27, 2004: Keith Richards joins ex-Winos Steve Jordan, Ivan Neville and others onstage at the Saenger Theatre
        in New Orleans.

Charlie Watts (April 2004): Start me up

It looks as if the Stones are starting in the next month or so... Originally we weren't even thinking of starting until October.

On the road we all have our little routines. Keith lives like he is at home - same music, books. Mick is always working - e-mailing, on the phone. We live in a bubble. Getting on the plane is like getting on the Tube to go to work. 


    April 29, 2004: Mick Jagger shoots a videoclip for Old Habits Die Hard at Abbey Road Studios.

    May 1, 2004: Ron Wood joins Ian McLagan onstage in London, England.

    May 3, 2004: Keith Richards joins Waddy Wachtel onstage at The Joint in Los Angeles.

    May 5, 2004: Keith Richards joins Willie Nelson, along with Merle Haggard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Kid Rock, for a
        televised concert at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles.

    May 16, 2004: Mick Jagger catches the film Fahrenheit 9/11 at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

    May 20, 2004: Mick Jagger watches a cricket match between England and New Zealand in London.

    May 21, 2004: Keith Richards guests onstage with blues performer David Honeyboy Edwards at The BoxCar in
        near-to-home Southport, Connecticut.

    June 2004: Charlie Watts is diagnosed with throat cancer.

Charlie Watts & Keith Richards (2005-06): Charlie getting diagnosed

Charlie: I'd had a lump in my neck for two or three years. It was diagnosed as benign but then the doctor took it out, found it was cancerous and then they found it in my left tonsil, too. I lay there thinking, Well, normally you die... When I first found out about the cancer, I literally went to bed and cried. I thought that was it, that I'd only have another three months. 

Keith: As Charlie put it, One minute I'm standing at Ronnie Scott's getting a standing ovation and the next minute I'm on a marble slab.


Early June 2004: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ron Wood hold another band meeting in Amsterdam,
    the Netherlands.

    June 4, 2004: Ron Wood guests with the Charlatans onstage in London, England.

Mid-June 2004: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards start writing songs and recording demos for the Rolling
    Stones' next album at Mick Jagger's home studio, La Fourchette, in PocÚ sur Cisse, France.

Mick Jagger (2005): Charlie's illness and the Stones

We had OK'd the tour. (Charlie) was straight up about it: The doctor says I have a 90% chance of being completely cured. I would have been in such a state. If Charlie had said, I can't do this tour, I've faced mortality, we would have had to change our minds. No one pressured him. But the treatments couldn't have been easy. I kept worrying: Is he eating? I'm like a nanny. 

Keith Richards (2005): Starting the Bang

It started in June last year, I went to Mick's house in France, and we sat around. And at the time Charlie was pretty ill, and we didn't know, and we were looking at each other across the couches going, Look, this is it. I go, Mick, you're on drums and I'll double on bass. In a way, we had to strip it down, and as it went along we realized that we had something going there and so we'd cut it all in Mick's house. There was a point I'm sure where he wanted to kick us out. But as I said to Mick, Listen, once upon a time, we cut a record in the South of France in my house, and it's called Exile On Main Street, and now it's your turn


    June 14, 2004: The Charlie Watts Tentet live album, Watts at Scott's, recorded in 2001, is released.

    June 20, 2004: Ron Wood joins the Charlatans again, then Bob Dylan for his whole concert, at the Fleadh Festival in
        Finsbury Park, London.

    June 23-24, 2004: Ron Wood joins ex-bandmate Jeff Beck at the latter's concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

    June 26, 2004: Ron Wood guests onstage with Rod Stewart again, at The Mall in London.

    June 29, 2004: The DVD on the 2003 Toronto SARS festival, Toronto Rocks, featuring the Rolling Stones, is released.
        Ron Wood performs with his brother Art's band at the Eel Pie Club in Twickenham, London.

    July-August 2004: Charlie Watts undergoes radiation therapy in London, England.

Charlie Watts (2005-06): Missing the start of the album

I didn't even want the family to come in and see me. The best way - for me at any rate - was to be left alone. Totally alone. Like a dog that's been hurt... You go in there and you're terrified. All the machines, it's like space age stuff. The surgeons and nurses literally have your life in their hands.

I didn't think of the Rolling Stones at all. Mick rang a few times: You have to get well. Don't worry about us. I was sorry not to be there when Mick and Keith were writing. In a way, it was fortuitous, because they were on their own. It was a lot of fun for them, to be together. 


    July 9-10, 2004: Keith Richards performs at two filmed Gram Parsons tribute concerts in Santa Barbara and Los
        Angeles, California, which include a duet with Norah Jones.

    July 2004: Ron Wood undergoes another alcohol rehabilitation bout at London's Priory Clinic.

August-September 2004: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards continue recording demos for the Rolling
    Stones' next album at La Fourchette and in St. Vincent in the West Indies.

Mick Jagger (September 2004): Writing with Dave and Keith

I write songs a lot with different people. I write a lot of stuff with Dave, I write a lot of stuff with Keith, and I write a lot of stuff on my own. There's hundreds of different ways of writing songs within that formula. I just spent two weeks writing songs with Keith and some are songs where I'm just there on my own and Keith walks in and plays the bass on what I've written. And some days it's the reverse, I go in and play the piano on something he's written. Dave and I are very concentrated and we're quite detailed. We force one another to finish everything. We like to do our work and get it done.

Mick Jagger & Keith Richards (2005): The Glimmer Twins back at work

Mick: What it really was is, you know, Keith and I started doing a lot of stuff just on our own, and then we were just having a laugh with a lot of it. I'd already written quite a lot of material, and Keith had written some, so it wasn't like we start from nothing... Keith was very supportive of my songwriting, guitar-playing, bass-playing, drumming. 

We were in such a confined space - some of it was in France, some of it in the Caribbean - without loads of hangers-on. There was nowhere to hide. Is it good? Is is not good? Then bung it out the window. There were no three-hour blues jams. There wasn't time. 

Keith: (Charlie's illness) pulled (Mick and I) together quicker than I would have expected. Because the man does like to keep his distances. On the basic level of putting songs together, it made us play together more, on guitars and piano. Mick, as a guitar player, has finally gotten there... He's also a good drummer - not in a technical sense. But he's got a great beat, good feel... 

It was all built on two acoustic guitars, and in such a sparse and stripped-down way that if you tried to elaborate on it later you'd lose the whole essence of it. 


    August 14, 2004: The public learns Charlie Watts has cancer and is receiving treatment.

    August 27, 2004: Ron Wood guests onstage with Toots & the Maytals in Los Angeles.

    August 31, 2004: Ron Wood joins Rod Stewart for a concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

    September 8, 2004: Ron Wood guests with Rod Stewart at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

    September 24, 2004: Ron Wood performs at a concert celebrating the Fender Stratocaster at Wembley Arena in
        London, England.

    September 27, 2004: Shirley Watts reveals Charlie Watts' treatment for cancer has been successful.

    September 30, 2004: Mick Jagger holds a press conference with Dave Stewart at Essex House in New York City to
        promote the soundtrack to the movie Alfie.

Mick Jagger (September 2004): More Rolling Stones on the way

Keith and I have been writing lots of songs for the new Rolling Stones album. We haven't booked the tour yet and when we do we'll let you know, but there will definitely be another one... We just started (writing), and it will be out sometime next year. We'll start recording in November. It should be good. I've been writing the last month for that, and I'm quite excited by what I've got so far.

I don't know who's going to be ready yet - (the new) Wembley Stadium or the Rolling Stones. Charlie's a lot better. He's had all his treatments and he's been pronounced sort of free and clear of everything, so we're very pleased about that. And Keith and I have been writing new material for the Stones' new album. I don't know when the Stones will actually tour, but I suspect we'll do the album and then we'll do a tour.

I think the excitement that drew me to this group in the beginning is the same excitement that draws me to it now.


    October 7, 2004: Ron Wood plays onstage with Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings at the Royal Festival Hall in London,
        England. Charlie Watts is in attendance.

    October 13, 2004: Mick Jagger attends the world premiere of Alfie at the Empire Leicester Square in London,

Mick Jagger (September 2004): The coincidental playboy

I've always been a rather career-minded person and any vague resemblance of my life to a playboy's is merely coincidental.


    October 14, 2004: Charlie and Shirley Watts celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

    October 17, 2004: Ron Wood guests again with Rod Stewart onstage, at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

    October 18, 2004: Mick Jagger attends the New York premiere of Alfie.

   October 18, 2004: Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart's soundtrack album to Alfie is released.

    October 20, 2004: Ron Wood performs again with his brother Art's band at the Eel Pie Club in London, England.

November 1, 2004: The Rolling Stones' 8th live (double) album, Live Licks, is released.

November-early December 2004: The Rolling Stones hold recording sessions for their next album, A
    Bigger Bang, their first full album since 1997's Bridges to Babylon, at La Fourchette in PocÚ sur Cisse,

Keith Richards (2005): Charlie's back!

I don't think that, between us, there was any doubt that Charlie would beat (cancer). I wondered how long and debilitating it might be, which Charlie answered in spades when he came back. He looked exactly the same, like he hadn't done anything more than comb his hair and puit a suit on... When he came in, we were still running down songs, rehearsing. You don't usually go into fifth gear in rehearsal. You lay back a little. But Charlie came in as if to prove I'm back. He played every rehearsal like a show. 

Charlie Watts (2005): Rejoining the band

I was very frightened. Mick and Keith were getting on very well and Mick was mucking about on the drums. What they were doing was very good and I felt, Crikey, have I got anything to give? and I was very scared.

Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger & Keith Richards (2005): An intimate Bang

Charlie: (Mick and Keith are) getting on very well at the moment. I think it was the way this record was done - simply. Even when I came back, it was simple. For a while it was just the three of us. 

Mick: We did this record with minimal technology, just suitcases of computers. I didn't want to go into a 
massive glass-and-stone $10 million studio with all the bells and whistles. All that technology can change the way you play. We pared it down, and the intimacy worked... (I)t was a better vibe than last time but you never know why that is. We weren't only in my house in France but wherever we were, yes it was (kept simple). We were in places where there wasn't a lot of distraction... so we just got on and did what we did with this small group of people and we were very focused. 

Keith: We kicked off this album on a small scale and we kept it like that all the way through. There's nobody on it except the band. This album said, Don't elaborate on me. Make me small and I'll give you a big one. 


    November 14, 2004: Ron Wood accepts the induction of the Rolling Stones at the UK Hall of Fame at the Hackney
        Empire in London, England.

    December 1-3, 2004: Ron Wood records with Scotty Moore at Abbey Road Studios in London, England.

    December 8, 2004: Ron Wood guests at a Charlatans concert at Shepherds Bush Empire in London.

    December 13, 2004: Mick Jagger joins Ron Wood at the latter's art exhibition in London.

    December 21, 2004: Ron Wood jams with the Hothouse Flowers at a bar in Naas, Ireland.

    Late December 2004: Mick Jagger holidays in Mustique.

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