Ten years after her husband Ronnie left her for a younger woman, JO WOOD, 63, admits she’s ‘single and ready to mingle’ – but men just can’t keep up with her
- Jo Wood reinvented herself after divorce from the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood
- Since them, she has become a TV celeb on shows like Strictly Come Dancing
- Now, she is the ambassador of Feed Your Happy, a campaign run by Organic UK
- She admits that she is looking for men who are into organic food and ‘not boring’
‘There’s no point to regrets,’ Jo Wood smiles. ‘The only thing I wouldn’t do if I had my time again is smoke a cigarette.’
It’s been ten years since Jo Wood reinvented herself to the world, and to herself, too; as a television celebrity (Strictly Come Dancing, Celebrity First Dates, Celebrity MasterChef . . .) and as an organic crusader with a cosmetics range (Jo Wood Organics) and a book (Naturally) in which she talks about the epiphany of going organic back in 1992.
Before, she had always been Jo Wood: wife of the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood. That changed, however, in 2008, when he hooked up with an 18-year-old waitress in a lap-dancing club (who, as the story goes, staggered into their home with him and almost set her hair on fire lighting a cigarette on Jo’s hob).
Jo Wood (pictured) was previously known as the wife of the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood. That changed, however, in 2008, when he hooked up with an 18-year-old waitress in a lap-dancing club
After years of loyalty, of Jo tolerating his alcoholism and infidelities on tour, the marriage finally broke down. ‘I’m a survivor,’ she says. ‘I try never to look back. I only like to look forward. There’s no use thinking about the past, is there? The past is over and done with, and you have to move forward.’
Now, Jo is looking for love and has a new life: organic cosmetics entrepreneur, mother to three grown-up children (Jamie from her first marriage and Leah and Tyrone by Ronnie) and step-mother to Jesse, Ronnie’s son by his first wife.
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Then there are the twin girls Ronnie has with his third wife, Sally, a 40-year-old theatre producer whom he married in 2012.
These days, everybody gets together for birthdays, Jo says, so what with the four children and the ten grandchildren — ‘Maggie, Bo, Lola, Arthur, Leo, Kobi, Charlie, Otis . . . gosh I adore all of them’ — there are quite a few parties, the latest being Tyrone’s 35th birthday. All the adults were out in force, celebrating at Scott’s, in Mayfair — a shining example of a modern blended family.
After years of loyalty, of Jo tolerating his alcoholism and infidelities on tour, the marriage finally broke down. Speaking of her past, she says: ‘I’m a survivor. I try never to look back. I only like to look forward’
‘Ronnie and I have a great friendship and he has a new wife and two beautiful little girls, who are gorgeous, [but] I’m so bored of talking about Ronnie. He’s married, he has his wife, he doesn’t go around talking about me, so I shouldn’t talk about him. I don’t want to be banging on about him ten years later.’
‘Single and ready to mingle,’ as she puts it, Jo says she would love to find love again. But I suspect Ronnie, however much he has been rightly relegated to the emotional scrapbook, is a tough act to follow.
‘I just don’t think many men keep up with me really,’ she admits. ‘My energy, I mean.’
Today, at 63, Jo looks amazing: healthier than in her rock chick days (‘we simply didn’t eat’), but now with a toned and strong body thanks to boxing and the gym. She has bright eyes and a face that, although free of Botox, still resembles the kohl-eyed girl of the past.
It is not the first time Jo has successfully turned her life around: very ill in 1989, aged 34, during her drink and drug heyday touring with the Stones, she was misdiagnosed with Crohn’s disease and put on steroids. They made her feel like she had ‘lost my soul’ she says now.
Jo is now looking for love as well as being the mother to three grown-up children (Jamie from her first marriage and Leah and Tyrone by Ronnie) and step-mother to Jesse, Ronnie’s son by his first wife
In 1992, a herbalist took her off the steroids, told her to clean up and re-educated her about what to put in her body. Overnight, Jo swapped cocaine for organic vegetable soup and started taking a mini-stove on tour to whip up organic meals. It was only once her body was clean that she discovered she’d had a perforated appendix all along.
She founded her cosmetics business in 2005 with Ronnie as a partner, but post-divorce, she decided to close it. At the time, she was ‘heartbroken’. But, dusting herself off, she realised she wanted to get it going again, which is what she has now done.
Ten years since that awful time, she’s even more committed than ever to the good life, although her definition of what that is has changed from all-night parties to a good night’s sleep — while religiously spreading the word about all things organic, be it shampoo, body oil, meat or vegetables.
Speaking about Ronnie, she says: ‘Ronnie and I have a great friendship and he has a new wife and two beautiful little girls, who are gorgeous, [but] I’m so bored of talking about Ronnie’
Today, we meet at her house in North London because she is the ambassador of Feed Your Happy, a campaign run by Organic UK.
‘I’ve always said: “If you don’t have your health, you won’t be happy.” How can you be? So in order to be happy you have to be healthy, and what does it take to be healthy? Eating the right food. Feed your body with organic food and you’ll be happy.’
Recently, just before going on the current series of Celebrity Island With Bear Grylls, she had a medical and was told her heart calcium level was zero. ‘You will never have a heart attack,’ her naturopath told her.
‘I want to be healthy and live a good long life,’ Jo says. ‘I want to see my grandchildren grow up.’
Ronnie, meanwhile, has just got over a cancer scare after a lesion was found on his lung during a medical check-up ahead of a Stones tour.
‘I’m glad he’s all right,’ she says. ‘He’s my ex-husband, but he’s not my business now. I don’t preach to him about keeping healthy, except to tell him not to drink Coca-Cola.
‘I was lucky. I’m not an addict, except when it came to cigarettes, which took me a long time to give up.’
She drinks only organic wine these days — and neat vodka. After a post-divorce spell of partying hard with her friends, during which time her daughter, Leah, emailed her to ask, ‘isn’t it about time you started staying in and not going out clubbing any more?’, she’s just as happy to relax in front of the television.
Now, Jo raises awareness about organic cosmetics and tries to live a healthier life. She is religiously spreading the word about all things organic, be it shampoo, body oil, meat or vegetables
‘Although I did email Leah back saying: “What do you want me to do? Stay at home and knit?” I like to cook myself a nice meal. Dinner for one anyone?’ she says, although she mentions three recent social occasions during our conversation, so perhaps it’s all relative.
It’s a clever move to make her the face of the Feed Your Happy campaign, because while she is clearly set on the importance of going organic — ‘When I saw there was a Whole Foods round the corner from the house, I knew it was the house for me!’ — there is still a healthy portion of naughty Jo served with the vegetables from her weekly Riverford deliveries.
‘I wasn’t a naughty girl!’ she counters of that description. ‘I was just having fun!’
She might be eating raw corn on the cob for supper tonight, with leftover chickpeas and salad leaves from a meal she cooked for the cast of Celebrity Island, but she is a million miles from the outdated stereotype of the worthy organic lentil-eater.
And there have been a few dalliances. Most recently, there was Paul Scarborough, a builder who renovated her houses and became her friend and lover. But, she says: ‘We started seeing less and less of each other and I thought we were better off friends.
She says that her and Ronnie are still friends but: ‘He’s married, he has his wife, he doesn’t go around talking about me, so I shouldn’t talk about him. I don’t want to be banging on about him ten years later’
‘Anyway, I speak to him all the time and he said the other day: “Oh, when am I going to take you out for dinner?” But, oh, I don’t know! Nobody ever asks me out.’
Maybe men are intimidated by your past? ‘I don’t know. I have no idea,’ she says.
She tells me a revealing story about when she went on Celebrity First Dates, a TV show where single people are paired together by producers and meet for a blind date in a restaurant.
‘I said to them: “I don’t want anybody like my ex-husband!” And when I walk in, there’s this guy who looks like [Ronnie’s] older brother. I thought: “Oh Jesus.” Nice enough bloke, but not for me. I was a bit disappointed. I thought I was going to meet Mr Right.
‘I don’t know what I want [in a man] now,’ she admits. ‘I’ve no idea. Somebody who is kind of loving and a bit sexy. I suppose it would have to be somebody in the arts. An accountant wouldn’t . . .’ she trails off.
You can take the girl out of the party, but you can’t take the party out of the girl, it seems.
‘I can’t have anybody who is boring,’ she says. ‘Three years ago, I did a bit of internet dating with EliteSingles and met an American man called Rob.’
‘It wasn’t right,’ she says, shaking her hair, still an impressive peroxide blonde. ‘No, no, it wasn’t right. He preferred his motorbike.’
She admits that she cannot date any man who she considers to be boring. Ideally, she said, she want someone who is interested in organicness, nature and who also has a sense of fun and adventure
Oh dear. She lets out a cackle, then ponders on.
‘Somebody who is into organicness, as well. And loves nature. And is a bit of an adventurer who says: “Come on, Jo, let’s go and climb Machu Picchu!” And I can say: “Yes! Let’s go!” That’s the kind of man I want.’
Jo Wood sums up the dilemma of many older divorced or single women very well: open to love and a new chapter, brave and prepared to be emotionally bold (all the more impressive given how painful and humiliating such a public split must have been), but also old enough now to not be prepared to compromise.
‘It’s lovely to be in love,’ she says. ‘I’d love to have that “ping” moment and fall madly in love, but in a relationship where we are both equal. That would be so nice at my age, I’d love it.
‘But I’m not looking. My brother always says: “Jo, somebody will come along when you are least expecting it.” So I am just going to enjoy my life and hope somebody perfect comes along.’
The only men in her life right now are her sons. The eldest, Jamie, 44, from her first marriage, was born when she was 19 and a successful model (the ‘face of 1972’). She mistakenly married his father after fleeing her hometown of Benfleet in Essex for the bright lights of London.
‘Poor old Peter,’ she says of him now. ‘He died last year.’
She walked out of that marriage after a year and went back to modelling. Ronnie saw her at a party and pursued her until she gave in.
Their two children are Leah, 39, who lives round the corner with her family, and Tyrone, 35. Then there’s Jesse, 41, too (married to broadcaster Fearne Cotton), Ronnie’s son by his first wife.
‘They’re all good boys,’ says Jo. ‘Leah used to say: “I wish I had a sister.” And now she doesn’t because she knows that all my jewellery will go to her when I die! That sounds terrible, doesn’t it?’
She also shared a revealing story about when she went on Celebrity First Dates, a TV show where single people are paired together by producers and meet for a blind date in a restaurant, and asked producers not to match her with someone like Ronnie
She has lived in a Victorian villa near Camden Tube since 2011. It’s a grungier area than her days in Richmond, but she loves it and, besides, she lives on a well-known street where house prices are so high you practically have to be the ex of a Rolling Stone to consider living there.
She often chats to neighbours by their gates: ‘Only the other day, I was talking to Mossy [Kate Moss] out there. She lives nearby.’
On the stairs of the house, decorated in a sort of skull-and-crossbones rock chick meets Miss Havisham vintage, there is a beautiful pen-and-ink drawing of Jo kissing Leah.
‘Ronnie did that,’ she says. ‘A good artist, Ronnie.’ She has many of his pictures of her, but she wants to get rid of them now. Some are of her in the nude.
‘I said to the kids: “Do you want them?” And they said: “Urgh, no Mum!” So I said: “What’s the matter? This is your mother’s body!” I’m going to sell them at auction.’
Her dresses, on the other hand — vintage Saint Laurent, Ossie Clark, beautiful Twenties tea dresses — they are all here to stay. ‘I wore a vintage Radley dress out last night,’ she says.
So not dinner for one then?
‘I only had one vodka because I knew I was working today,’ she says. ‘In the old days, I wouldn’t have even cared.’
Still, I can’t see the knitting needles coming out for another two decades. At the very least.
Jo Wood is the face of Organic UK’s Feed Your Happy campaign, inviting people to add happiness to the world and to their lives by eating organic food: feedyourhappy.co.uk
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