Ronnie Wood sauntered over a smoke-filled stage and threw an arm around Rod Stewart as the two men embraced each other emotionally.

It seemed a simple, friendly gesture, but the hug had a deeper meaning for both of them. Just moments before, Rod had confessed that, like Ronnie, he had endured a fight against cancer.

"I'm going to Ronnie, who suffers from lung cancer," Rod told the crowd. Ronnie added, "Someone up there likes us."

For the hundreds of people invited to a charity meeting at Surrey's Wentworth Golf Club, the 74-year-old Rod made prostate cancer headlines around the world.

Ronnie, 72, was diagnosed with cancer in May 2017 and went public three months later. The legend of the Stones had found an all-clear after a five-hour operation.

Ronnie and Rod stood together on stage in the 1970s

Rod found out he had prostate cancer during a routine check-up in February 2016 and was unmasked this year.

It was a comfort for them to speak openly about it. They were shocked when Faces drummer Kenney Jones and Rod's longtime guitarist Jim Cregan said they had prostate cancer.

Rod was annoyed shortly before the show about going public and defeating cancer. Ronnie says, "He meant," Should I mention that I have cancer? "I said," Rod, it's personal, do whatever you want. If you want to tell them, tell them. "

Ron's friendship with Rod goes back to the year 1969, when the faces formed after the separation of the little faces. Their infernal antics on tour consolidated their relationship and despite the band split in 1975, they remained buddies.

Ronnie and Rod came together on stage to raise money for the prostate project

Rod was Ronnie's best man at his wedding in 2012 with the theater producer Sally Humphreys. And Ron can summarize her long friendship: "Humor and respect, for the same kind of music taste and lifestyles as all girls – we really go right back to the parish hall. You can not take that away. "Like Rod, Ron feels blessed."

He says, "I was very fortunate that my cancer was removed from my left lung and that he was nowhere else in my body. I was examined recently; got the all-clear again. You have to keep looking. I'm scanned every six months, but it's worth it. "

The music legends have remained good friends over the decades

Sitting in front of Ronnie in the presidential suite of a five-star hotel in London, his close contact with mortality did not slow him down.

Up close, he is a contagious bundle of energy whose attention flickers from one topic to the next. There is no doubt that Ronnie is currently in a hot professional phase away from the Stones. Ronnie sips a Coca-Cola, "My only sin these days", and raves about his new album – live cover versions of music hero Chuck Berry, joined by singer Imelda May. He has the support of the Stones for the project, with whom he will go on tour.

He says, "Keith, Mick and Charlie told me to go out and spread it. They love that I made it live and I keep Chuck going. "

Sally and Ronnie Wood with twin daughters Alice and Gracie turning on the Carnaby Christmas installation

Then there's the documentary Somebody Up There Likes Me, the first full-length biopic about Ronnie's life by acclaimed director Mike Figgis, to be seen in theaters next month.

It traces Ronnie's life as he grew up in Hillingdon, Middlesex, where father Arthur drank so much that he fell asleep on his way home in the neighbor's gardens.

The guitarist and his two older brothers Ted and Art, who affectionately called him Little Ronnie, often found "figures hung over the furniture" when Arthur found his way back to their terraced home. Ronnie laughs: "Dad was funny, you never knew in whose garden he would wake up next.

Rod Stewart, Penny Lancaster, Sally Wood, and Ronnie Wood at the Prostate Project fundraiser

"But my poor mother made her sick. He was never there. When he was, it was a wonderful encouragement to the little bits of love that came through. Ronnie was moved to see footage of his father, who died in 1989. His mother died a decade later. His brothers have died too. He says, "When we left our cute little community center, it was literally a massive bang on the side because of all the parties. It was crazy, but mom and dad were so nice and encouraging with my art and my music. They were so proud of me. "

And they had all rights when his career reached stratospheric levels in 1975 when he replaced Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones. As one of the greatest guitarists of all time-and with a £ 50 million bank balance-Ronnie had everything. However, life in the fast lane was not without problems.

In the worst case, he drank two bottles of vodka a day – which led to several rehab spells and contributed to the collapse of his 30-year marriage with Ms. Jo when he was shooting with an 18-year-old Russian waitress.

Then in the 1980s, his addiction to Freebase – an addictive form of cocaine that was mixed with baking soda and water and inhaled with a pipe. It was a drug that even Keith Richards would not consider.

Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood both had health problems after cancer was diagnosed

Ronnie even forbade his children to eat meringue in the house because he often mistook the crumbs for stones he wanted to smoke. "Freebase took a long time to get out, it was really bad," says Ronnie.

"But looking back, I still would not change anything, it was a learning curve I had to go through, because while you're actually using it, you do not see that you're in that dark place, only when you look back, you go, damn, That was awful.

"The human animal can survive many things. You only realize that when you are lucky enough to withdraw and look back. That is my life. it was survival. I am happy to be here. "

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Now he is a transformed man, especially thanks to Sally (41) and her three-year-old twin, Gracie and Alice. He stops, drinks and prefers detective stories on Netflix's wild nights. He says, "Sally was never bossy and said," You have to stop. "She appreciated me both ways, but now I do not smoke, drink or operate.

"It's a daily process to stay sober, I have my meditation books and start the day with a plan, one day at a time is fine." He is visibly thrilled with his twins and says he is very "hands on", but he is glad that they have no more diapers.

And although he's an older dad, he's up to the job – and even suggests that Sally wants more, though he seems a bit undecided.

"Every day, every hour is like" Yes! "You have life to the fullest."

  • Ronnie Wood with his raging Feral Five guy – A live tribute to Chuck Berry on Friday via BMG. The band will perform the album this month in London, Birmingham and Manchester. Someone up there likes me next month in British cinemas. More information and tickets at