Mick Taylor was part of a tribute to Jimmy Reid at the RAH. The Royal Albert Hall was resplendent. Romanesque galleries, white-painted columns and pink, luminous mushrooms hanging upside down from the ceiling. Ronnie showed up, sleek as a lizard. He strolled up to the mic and strummed a few bum chords. Out of the darkness, a triple-F-cup flew towards the stage, the straps snagging in the strings of Ronnie’s guitar.
A voice called out, “I love ya Ronnie!”
The blues is a mixed up thing – Billie Holiday
“I love you too, darlin”, Ronnie growled.
I was sitting with Jojo Ruocco, a drummer from New Jersey. She’s a hot chilli tamale on drums. Jo and I had a box seat next to the stage. We leaned over the balcony to take a gander at the auditorium below.
“Check this out,” I said, “all the guys have Ronnie Wood hairdos.”
The audience was mostly men, aging rockers, all of them starstruck. Woodsy was a survivor and he had the guitars to prove it. All three of them lined up like china on a mantlepiece. Ronnie sang a couple Jimmy Reid numbers with Mick Taylor shuffling around on guitar next to him. A kid called Hercules sat in on drums.
Ronnie paid tribute to Jimmy Reid. “Jimmy was an alcoholic” Ronnie told us. “And he had epilepsy. So after a night’s boozing not only did he get the DT’s, he topped it off with a fit.”
I looked at Jimmy Reid’s flat screen image hovering over the auditorium. Probably more fun being a hologram than the real thing I thought. We waited for the razzle-dazzle from guitar legend Mick Taylor but he was keeping his head down low, playing it safe. This was Ronnie’s gig and he wasn’t about to step out of line. The kid drummer kept missing the grooves, acting like he was stoned.
“Wake up you son of a bitch!” screamed Jojo.
“I was mortified. “Jesus Jo! People are looking!!
“He’s playing eight ‘n quarter notes on two and four! Is that the best he can do?”
“Do I detect some professional jealousy?”
“Bollocks!! The kid sounds like he’s fresh out of high school!”
“That’s why he’s called ‘Hercules’. It should be you up there on that stage Jojo!” I told her, “not that blinkin’ kid.”
“Yeah, it should be me on those drums!! I played with all these frickin’ faggots!! Mick Hucknall, Ronnie Wood, Paul Weller!! What’s this shit all about? Is this the fricken boy’s club!?”
“Yeah, you’re the Queen of the Funkin Drums!”
“You bet your ass I am! I could wipe the floor with these bozos!”
“You should have slept with Ronnie when you had the chance,” I said. “You’d be up there now instead of Hercules!”
“I don’t mix business with pleasure, “said Jojo, “but I have to admit, Ronnie was a hot chilli tamale back in the days. He’s on his way to a Knighthood now, the creep!
“Of course he is!! The Knight of the living dead.”
That gave us a laugh. Then Hercules screwed up again on the drums. Jojo went ballistic, “enough of this torture! I’m going up on that stage! I’ll get this party started!”
“Go! Blow his arse off those drums!”
Jojo hurtled down the stairs to the stage. A security goon tried blocking her but she barreled past, nutting him in the groin on the way. Woodsy and Taylor were crunching away up front, oblivious to the action behind. Jojo yanked the kid off the tins. A brief struggle ensued but Hercules soon lost interest and wobbled down off the stage to be with his girl in the front row. The audience went wild, thinking it was part of the act!
Bobby Womack crept out from the sidelines and the hall erupted en mass. The sound of thumping feet reverberated throughout the auditorium. Upon the ceiling, the pink mushrooms wobbled dangerously as the crowd went haywire, screaming, “BobbyBobbyBobby!” Ruocco smashed into those skins and the crowd hit the roof. Woodsy was sliding all over the stage, his skinny legs trying to match the beat of the drum.
Womack was wailing like a banshee, “Amm goin’ a New York, yes Amm goin’ a New York!” The audience was ecstatic, but no one expected the ending to happen like it did. Right after Womack disappeared, leaving a frenzied audience in his wake, Mick Taylor exploded. Literally. He’d had these rockets tied to his vest, and all this time everyone thought he’d put on a couple stones. “Cocksuckers!” Taylor shrieked, before erupting into an effervescent storm of atomic particles, then drifting like confetti over a hushed audience. The audience went ape!! It was the best performance ever!