The guitar great heard he was among the guys being considered for the job on the radio back in 1975 but couldn't believe Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were talking about him until he had the chance to chat with the singer years later.
He tells Rolling Stone, "I'd been a friend of (bass player) Bill Wyman's since I was 14. He produced the band I was in back then called the Preachers. He's been like my older brother - we're very close friends.
"I know he and Charlie (Watts) put my name in the hat. I was living in Westchester, driving into Manhattan on the Saw Mill River Parkway. I had just gone through the toll booth and I was listening to Wnew (radio station) and I hear my name mentioned with a list of other guys trying out for the Stones after Mick Taylor left. I pulled over, and thought, 'Holy c**p! I just heard my name!'
"When I was at Electric Lady recording I'm in You a few years later and Mick Jagger was in the next studio mixing Love You Live, we were talking, hanging out, he sang on a track. I asked him, 'Was it true? Was I on the list?' He said, 'Absolutely'. But he said, 'We could see where you were going. Look at what you've just done.'
"That was great to find out I was on the list. But I think Ronnie Wood was way more of a Stones character and now I can hardly imagine the Stones without him. He was the perfect guy."