Ronnie Wood & Keith Richards Discuss Rolling Stones Documentary: 'Olé Olé Olé: A Trip Across Latin America'

The Rolling Stones in London
Samir Hussein/WireImage

The Rolling Stones arrive for the private view of 'The Rolling Stones: Exhibitionism'  Saatchi Gallery on April 4, 2016 in London.

The Rolling Stones’ documentary Olé Olé Olé: A Trip Across Latin America, which screens at more than 300 cinemas nationwide tonight (Dec. 12), is filled with many cool, funny and touching moments from Keith Richards’ rainstick ritual to Ronnie Wood’s collaborative painting with Brazilian artist Ivald Granato, and Mick Jagger strolling through Le Ricoleta cemetery in Argentina.

“We dedicated the movie to him [Granato], because he died just after we did that,” Wood told Billboard in Toronto when the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. “He went peacefully.”

The pair reunited in Brazil, and can be seen in Olé Olé Olé painting together on one canvas. Their bond is beautiful, even though it’s been years since they last saw each other. “That’s all he could say in English: ‘I love you,’” said Wood, imitating his accent.

The doc -- directed by Paul Dugdale (Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Adele) -- takes a rich and colorful look at each city on the Stones’ Latin American tour earlier this year, culminating in a historic outdoor free concert for 1.2 million fans in Havana, Cuba on March 25 (captured for the concert doc, Havana Moon). 

Dugdale and co-writer Sam Bridger are able to pack enough sociopolitical context and history, as well as indigenous music, into the 105-minute film that the viewer gets sufficient understanding of how difficult it was for even the world’s biggest rock band to break in -- and rise to stadium status -- in some of these places like they had in other part of the world these 50-some-odd years.

“I’m pleased that they got a little taste of the culture all throughout South America, ending with Cuba, and there’s another documentary all about the Cuba one,” says Wood of Havana Moon.

He is also pleased that the build-up to the free Cuba concert, which hit a snag when President Obama scheduled his first visit there the same week, is captured (the Stones moved their date).

“Is it on? Is it off? The whole on-again, off-again bit and could it actually take place? And then bang, the release of the concert itself and just the look on the people’s faces and the reaction. It was well worth it for that."

“I met a few journalists down there and it was like going back in time,” Wood adds. “It was lovely. They were really heartfelt. It was like starvation. They don’t have much food there. They don’t have much lodging. So music is also so precious and it also hit home, just being on the soil there, when you see it.”

Richards liked the fact that so many people were seeing the Stones “through fresh eyes,” in Havana, he tells Billboard. “It’s a weird feeling in Cuba now. Things are opening up, hopefully for the better. Incredible energy there. Very interesting that nobody walks around with a cell phone stuck to their head, which I found refreshing. At the same time, I look forward to change. I was glad to be one of the first ones to break it open.”

And what of the magical rainstick, which Richards uses before show time to entertainment the crew and keep the rain away? “It works,” claims Wood, before being reminded of a downpour in the documentary. “Well, you know, he’s only human. [Laughs.] Once in a while it doesn’t work.”

Wood also tells Billboard that he is now in possession of the painting he worked on with his friend Granato. “Guess what happened: It arrived at my house. He sent it to me because we finished it after the filming and he said [puts on Spanish accent], ‘I will send to you’ and it arrived the day he died, to my house in London. Lovely guy.”

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