When Superman Died

As for temptation in general… well, there’s drugs

Country Jamie Wood


Millions of teenagers around the world dream of becoming rock stars. Some of them manage to, but that’s another story. But what about having rock star parents? Does anyone dream of that? Kids tend to envision «real» parents as being ordinary, boring, and uninteresting, demanding good marks and quieter music (as if music could ever be a disturbance!). The son of Rolling Stones member Ronnie Wood, Jamie Wood has had a lifetime of rock ‘n’ roll, going on to become himself an influential man in the music business. We are grateful to our new author for his frank account of the most dramatic memories of childhood and the temptations of adulthood.

To emptations… They can be good, after all — almost like dreams. As a child, I always wanted to manage my father, Ronnie Wood. It wasn’t so much a dream, though, as a kind of temptation, for my father to obey me, to depend on me. It’s honest. I’m always honest; that’s my problem. Sometimes it gets me into trouble. But what can you do?

When I was 11 years old, besides wanting to manage rock stars, I had three more rather grandiose dreams. The first was that I would be able to fly. The second was that my Smurfs toys — I had a whole collection of them — would come to life and be my friends. The third was that the naked girl from the porn magazine I’d found in my dad’s stash would come to life and have sex with me. The third dream may not seem very suitable for an 11 year old, but I warned you that I’m always honest. That’s what I dreamt about. Those were my early temptations.

As for temptation in general… well, there’s drugs. And then, obviously, there’s money. I have lots of it. It seems to me that, with everything, you always need more and more, and no one knows how much you need of it, and that’s always a negative thing. I’ve got a story for you. My mum and dad will be mad. But they know that honesty is my thing.

So my father’s in the greatest rock and roll band in the world… He’s a party man. So in my house, growing up, there were lots of parties all the time. Many, many parties. And many famous people. So, I was young — I was nine years old. One day, I woke up in the morning and went downstairs. And there was a man on the sofa. And he was covered in sick… it was very bad. But I was used to it. I’d seen many people like that.

I walked past him, but then I looked back and realised who it was! It was Superman! You know, Christopher Reeve — the real superman! I was a big Superman fan. So, seeing him there, I thought my mum and dad had killed Superman! And I went and banged on their door, shouting, «Mum! Dad! You killed Superman!» I was thinking, ‘Wow, he comes over for one night and there he is, dead on my sofa!’

That was a scarring moment, as a child. It was a bad moment.

My parents weren’t the best examples. So my ultimate ambition, my goal, is to be a good father. To do for my children what my own parents didn’t do. But there is one area of parenting in which we are alike. Honesty. I want my kids to be able to tell me everything. I, too, was always honest with my parents. And when I got into trouble — into drugs, for instance — I was able to talk to them. So it stopped me from going too far.

When I grew up, I did end up managing my dad, as I’d dreamt of doing as a child. For 11 years, I took care of the deals, did the taxes, organised the tours, negotiated the contracts. I had to learn a lot. It wasn’t easy, no matter how much I had aspired to do it.

But, if I’m honest, the most difficult part can sometimes be just getting Dad out of bed. It was tough. But, you know, it was good.

So my childhood dream came true. I hope that I’ll be able to say the same for my greatest ambition of all — to be a good father to my four children. I think that I’ve become more like a friend than a father. But, still, they respect me. They’re four boys, and someday they’ll need to leave home. Sometimes I think of the day when it’ll happen… They turn 18, then they’re gone, and then Daddy can go and have a life of his own!

I always wanted my kids to tell me everything. And they do. They’re too honest! My oldest son is now 18. So he’ll be with women, and he’ll tell me about his sexual experiences, sometimes a bit too much. He goes, «Dad, I come too fast when I’m with a girl. I have too much, too soon». And I tell him, «Dude, you don’t have to tell me that.» It’s a difficult balance. You need to have that thing with your parents. But children still have to respect you. Otherwise it’s no good.

In our family, it’s more strict with Mum, and I’m a soft touch. I let them do what they want, like not going to sleep, for example. Their mother’s with them all day, so she has to be disciplined. If I was with them all the time, then I’d have to be more disciplined.

Sometimes I look at them with alarm. They sit there on their phones, all day long. The whole day on the phone. YouTube. For me, it’s a big problem. Because my sons, they’ll be watching YouTube, and they watch these other 18-year-olds, running around, smoking weed, doing drugs, having sex… They watch them all day long, so they might as well be in the same room with them. Learning from these 18-year-olds… it’s no good. It’s gonna end up in problems.

When I was a child in the ‘80s, there were no mobile phones. It was much better, life was much calmer. Now everyone can get me, wherever I am. And before, when I was a kid, I’d go to the phone box. Make my phone calls, put my money in, done! Now it’s too much… it’s all too much, too soon. Something must have happened. How did technology develop so quickly? There must be a spaceship landed on Earth, or something like that. And on this spaceship they’ve got all the technology. Because this is just too quick. I don’t know. I don’t like it.

But, you know, in a way I’m enjoying this time. People from our generation, we get a bit of both worlds. There’s the technology boom, but we get to look at everyone and remember how nice it was. Which is good for us in disciplining our children, to teach them that it’s not all about tech. As soon as children can use a fucking iPad, childhood is gone. Instead of actually doing something, they want to watch someone else playing a video game. What the fuck? I say to my sons, «Stop watching how people live their lives. Let them watch you live your lives».