Ronnie Wood drank and snorted his way to becoming rock’s most infamous wildman.
But the Rolling Stone only knew he had truly spiralled out of control when he turned up to showbiz parties smoking cocaine with his personal Bunsen burner.
Revealing the depths of his addiction, Ronnie told how he carried the science lab tool to light the drug in a glass pipe in a bid to get a purer hit – known as freebasing.
The 72-year-old guitarist said: “I felt that with the base, the freebase, it was controlling me. I had no control over it. It took me about three years to get off it.
“It’s incredibly powerful, it ruled everything, getting high with that pipe was frightening. [You] do anything for it and I can understand why people went out and killed for it.
“I enjoyed the s**t out if it. Took it with me wherever I went. I thought it was the best thing going.
“I would take it to parties and go, ‘Everybody try this’, get [a] great big Bunsen burner out, the pipes, the works, freebase and everything. And people would be going, ‘You’re f*****g crazy’ but I would love it.”
Ronnie made the astonishing admission in a new documentary about his life Somebody Up There Likes Me.
But he admitted many of his pals ended up dead after living such a destructive lifestyle.
Ronnie added: “I have seen enough people go over the top.
“Some of them didn’t make it. It was a really horrible thing and you would learn a lesson from that.”
At one point Damien Hirst took Ronnie to a rehab clinic after snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan told the artist he was concerned.
All the more astonishing as Hirst admitted a mammoth coke intake had turned him into a “babbling f*****g wreck” and O’Sullivan confessed to bingeing on drink and drugs until 7am when “the birds would be tweeting and I’d think ‘I’m bang in trouble’’’.
Speaking of the call from O’Sullivan, Hirst revealed: “He said, ‘Ronnie is in a real mess he needs to go to rehab.’
“I picked him up with his son Jesse, and of course he is drinking. We went out and we went to a local pub on the way.”
Ronnie, who has beaten lung cancer, played in The Faces with friend Sir Rod Stewart before joining the Stones in 1975.
His life of excess finally ended nine years ago and he has been sober ever since. Ronnie lives with theatre producer wife Sally, 41, and their three-year-old twin daughters Alice and Gracie.
In the film, the couple talk of his daily work to stay clean and sober.
Ronnie said: “It’s very difficult because you go through a period of dry and you go, ‘I’ve done it. I’ve cleaned up now. I can have just one.’
And that is a big mistake because you can’t just have one. I probably like things too much, which is harmless for some things like music, but harmful in ways like dope and drink.”
Sally added: “You can’t just think that it is not there. It could creep up at any point so that is a big deal for us.”
Speaking of how her husband stays sober, she said: “Classes or rehab or AA meetings, he has his meditation books, check-in daily, how are you doing?
“It’s not just drugs, it is smoking, it’s drinking. We put the recovery first because everything else follows so. That makes sense for us.”
Ronnie’s bandmates also feature in the 70-minute film.
Mick Jagger, 76, revealed: “We all went through our overdoing it phase.
“[Ronnie] really wanted to be sober but it was very difficult to do if you’ve been doing it all your life.
If I was some help I am glad.”Drummer Charlie Watts, 78, said: “Mick never gave up on him.” Keith Richards, 75, added: “He has a great immune system.
“In fact he is very like me with a great pain threshold.”
Ronnie, who started his rock career in band The Birds told how he first turned to booze as a teenager, after his childhood sweetheart died in a car crash.
He added: “When I was about 15 my first girlfriend Stephanie came to see The Birds in an early gig.
“Her and three of her lovely girlfriends from school were wiped out in a Mini. I had to go see the tyre tracks and my friends [took me] down the pub and drowned my sorrows.
“I was in love, she was my first love. My dad, subtle as a flying mallet, he said, ‘Ron, the man downstairs, something to do with Stephanie being killed,’ and he left the room.
“I thought I better brace myself, and go downstairs, that’s when I knew it was serious. You’ve got to live with this kind of thing.”
In the film, which was premiered as part of the London Film Festival last night, Ronnie speaks of the heartbreaking loss and tells how he was woken in the night by a visit from his girlfriend’s dad delivering the devastating news.
Despite his battles with drugs, Ronnie said he never regrets taking them.
He added: “I had some really good spiritual awakenings during my using years and although I wouldn’t recommend it as lot of it was the ritual associated with the presentation of the different drugs, the rolling of the joint, the filling of the pipe or the chopping of the coke.
“There was a lot of ritual involved and that would be set against the ritual of the way the music was structured… that gave you the feeling of invincibility, you can tackle anything.
The brandy Rod and I had before we went on with The Faces and with The Jeff Beck Group, the drink was very important.
“It got rid of the butterflies and it gave you the power to go on and handle anything, tackle anything.”
- Ronnie will be releasing his live album Ronnie Wood with his wild five Mad Lad – a live tribute to Chuck Berry in November and playing UK shows. His art is for sale through his official Ronnie Wood online art shop.