Jo Wood is, she explains, “a survivor”. She’s not kidding. As the wife of the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood, she travelled the world, partied ‘til the early hours and managed to look after Ronnie and their children. When – after three decades – they separated, she rallied, climbed mountains, threw herself into Strictly Come Dancing (“the most nervous I’ve ever been”), and is now relaunching her beauty brand, Jo Wood Organics...
What sparked your interest in what we put into (and onto) our bodies.
In 1990s I was misdiagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I did an interview for the Daily Express which was headlined ‘Stone’s Wife Has Incurable Disease’. I got hundreds of letters, and one promised that he could put my Crohn’s into remission. I went to see him (his house was called Shangri-La, kid you not) and he told me health is all about what you eat. I detoxed my body, came off the steroids, started to feel wonderful.
Then one day I felt terrible, they rushed me into hospital, and found I’d had a perforated appendix for two years! Lying in hospital, I vowed to be an organic girl for the rest of my life. After that I became obsessed with what I was putting on my skin – how quickly it goes into your bloodstream. I was constantly looking for organic oil and my friend said, “Jo, you should do it yourself.” So I did. We’ve got more coming out – my body wash, salt scrub, probiotic face spray and face oil.
You’re a walking advertisement for life just getting better – what’s the secret?
I truly believe that if you’ve not got your health, you’ve not got happiness. SO as long as I’m healthy, I’m happy.
Tell us about the rock chick days.
Gosh, I can’t remember of them! I had lots of fun and I was very lucky: I adjusted well to the long nights and the parties, and I loved being on the road. I still get that wanderlust if I’m at home too long. My ex is on tour at the moment, and I think, “Oh I used to love that. Packing up and going for a year.” We’d take the kids and a tutor. They weren’t very good at their lessons, but they loved being on tour.
Do you miss the parties?
The parties we used to have were just with the crew and the band: me and Ronnie, Keith [Richards] and Patti [Hansen], [vocalists] Bernard [Fowler] and Lisa [Fischer] – we’d all have drinks in our room and stay up 'til 4am talking rubbish.
What would you play at a party now?
I love Kings of Leon’s 'Revelry' and one of my favourite songs is Marvin Gaye’s ‘Mercy, Mercy Me’.
When are you happiest?
When I’m around the people that I love. I just went to Spain with my daughter, Leah, and her two kids. I haven’t spent enough quality time with her for ages because we’re both so busy – so to have two weeks was wonderful.
Tell us about your perfect weekend?
I’ve got a lovely boyfriend so I would like to go out with him for dinner and drinks on a Saturday and then I love cooking Sunday lunch and have everybody over – all my children and 10 grandchildren.
What’s your philosophy?
At my age, I think to myself, I haven’t got my life all over again. I want to be strong and healthy and make the most of my days. I’m desperate to travel more, go to Bali, see another U.F.O…
Stop right there: another U.F.O.?
We were on tour. It was midnight and I was packing in the house Ronnie and I had rented in the furthermost point of Brazil. Ronnie called to tell me there was a weird light. There was a beach in front of the house and out there, over the sea, were the weirdest, flashing lights. Ronnie ran in to get his glasses – and it shot across and up the sky and disappeared. I’ve never seen anything move like that in my life. It was in the Brazilian papers the next day: hundreds of people had seen the same thing. I was with my son Tyrone when we saw an orb when we were flying down over South America. It’s all happening there.
Who or what is the love of your life?
My mum actually, I lost her a couple of years ago and I miss her so much. I miss not being able to pick up the phone and talk to her. She was so great during my break-up. But I’ve got so many loves of my life: my children and my grandchildren.
What did you want to be growing up?
When I was 12, I was at a convent school and we had to write about what we wanted to do when we left school. I had wanted to be a movie star, but then I fell in love with Twiggy, so I wrote that I wanted to be a model, live in London, and that my brother was going to be an artist. The nuns were absolutely horrified. They were even more horrified when I did a picture in The Sun wearing a bikini and a fur coat! But, you know what? I got all my wishes – and my brother is an artist.
What would you tell your 18-year-old self?
I wouldn’t tell her much – I’d let her learn, like I have. The only thing I regret is picking up a cigarette, it took me so long to quit. When you’re young you never appreciate things as you should: I didn’t appreciate my mum enough when I was in my twenties – or my really fab little body!
How was it doing Strictly?
I loved it until I had to do the live show. I’ve never experienced nerves like that. But anything I’ve done since Strictly, I think: ‘Jo, you’ve danced live in front of millions of people, you can do anything now’.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
My mother told me to always think positively and cast your burden.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
It has to be my kids. They’re very grounded, nice and polite – and none of them has had a drug problem. I’m very proud of that – living my life it could have easily been a total disaster!
We're all about the value of female friendships: what quality do your friends share?
Loyalty - and we all have each other’s backs.
You can invite six women (any six – living or dead) for supper: who? And where do you go?
I’d go to the River Café, and I’d invite Brigitte Macron – I definitely want to get to know her; Brigitte Bardot; Twiggy; Barbara Hulanicki – I have such great admiration for her and Biba was the most iconic store I’ve ever been into; my mum; and my sister.
What soundtrack would you play?
The last time you laughed out loud?
At a joke that I saw Dawn French tell... (Can I invite her to my dinner party as well?)
Three nuns get to the gate of heaven. Peter’s there and says, “Stop. I need to ask you a question each. Get it right; you come in. “What was the name of the first woman?” he asks the first nun. “Eve”. “Yes. You can go in.” He asks the second nun the name of the place Eve went. “The Garden of Eden.” In she goes. “Now,” he says to the final nun, “this one’s a bit more difficult: what was the first thing Eve said to Adam.” “Hmm,” says the nun, “now that’s a hard one.” “Yes! You can go in!”
Last book you read?
Paris for One by Jojo Moyes – and I loved it.
Is there a book you wish you’d written?
House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier and I loved The Kiterunner – I cried reading that book and I don’t tend to cry at books.
What – if anything – keeps you awake at night?
I’m always worried about making my business grow.
Winter or Spring?
Over or under dressed?
My mother always said better to be overdressed than underdressed when you go out.
Vodka, salt and lime, and organic chocolate.
One of my products!
Night in or night out?
I like both.
Cocktail or green tea?
Word you over-use?
Dream holiday destination?
One thing you’d want on a desert island?