AS iN10 catches up with Jo Wood she’s relaxing at her new home in Spain.
Therein lies a tale – and the ex-wife of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood is in the mood to tell it.
“My mum died 18 months ago and I was at my flat in Miami afterwards,” she launches into, barely pausing for breath, after a bubbly “Hello”.
“I just thought why am I here, so far from home? There wasn’t even room for all the family to come and stay, so it was time to sell.”
An internet search led to the house in Spain and a hurried trip to view with son Tyrone, 34. Hurried, because a mix-up saw the pair go to the wrong airport and end up stranded in Madrid, hundreds of miles away from where they were due to see it the next morning.
“We hired a car and drove five hours through the night to Alicante,” laughs Jo, 62.
“The fuel gauge was on empty, stressing Tyrone out, and every filling station was closed.
“We finally found one open, got a couple of hours sleep in a little hotel and made the appointment. They accepted my – cheap – offer and I’d just bought a house in the hills in Murcia.”
Jo says the Murcian retreat is perfect, big enough and with a pool that’s been a magnet for Tyrone, daughter Leah, 39, son Jamie, 44, and kids. But she pines for her mum, wishing she too could have enjoyed the Spanish hideaway.
The pair used to speak every day – those vital family calls now go to Jo’s brother – and her death at the age of 82 was a devastating blow.
“I still miss her terribly but I feel she’s still with me,” she says quietly.
“When she was dying I got all emotional and she said, ‘Pull yourself together, Josephine. None of us get out of this alive’.
“She was a big smoker all her life. She’d say there was nothing wrong with her lungs and I’d tell her that might be so, but all her veins were clogged. It was kidney failure in the end.”
Leah and Tyrone are from her long relationship with Ronnie. It was a 34-year relationship that came to a shattering end in 2008 when he was caught cheating with a Ukrainian cocktail waitress.
Getting over the marriage split took some time though not, it seems, as long as might be expected.
“I didn’t fall to pieces, but I felt sorry for myself and miserable for a couple of months that summer but then decided I had to pull myself together,” she confides.
“I think I made quite a quick recovery actually.
“I wasn’t going to be a victim and was going to get out and live my life as I wasn’t getting any younger.
“I made new friends and did things I’d never have done when I was married.
“I went on a pilgrimage to Tibet, went to Bangladesh and became independent, going back to how I used to be.
“I became me again but starting taking responsibility was a big learning process.
“When I was with Ronnie and on the road with the Stones I never had to worry about bills or doing anything, really. ”
TV appearances on the likes of Strictly and Celebrity MasterChef helped establish Jo in her own right.
And she found new love with boyfriend Paul Scarborough whilst Ronnie married theatre director Sally Humphreys in 2012.
Ronnie and Sally now have one-year-old twins Gracie and Alice and the turbulent past between Ronnie and Jo has been put to bed.
“We always meet up at children or grandchildren’s birthdays and everything’s fine with us.
“I’ve known him most of my adult life and we have children together so you have to be friends. I’d hate not to be his friend.”
Their decades together were largely spent on the road with one Rolling Stones tour after another. It was a globetrotting lifestyle, littered with every bit of excess and indulgence you might imagine.
“I always had fun, always had a laugh,” insists Jo. “We stayed up for days on tour.
“It wasn’t like I was low and depressed, I was enjoying life and the experience I was having. It was great.
“I don’t recommend anyone to do drugs but I don’t think I would have been rocking and rolling if I’d been straight and didn’t drink or take drugs.
“I would have been fast asleep and not in the ‘gang’.”
Ask Jo the ins and outs of those headily hedonistic days when she also acted as Ronnie’s tour PA and she frankly admits “it was one big blur”.
“There’s lots of it I don’t remember. You’re travelling from one city to the next, staying up all night then sleeping to two in the afternoon and getting yourself together to get to the gig.
“It was just one big rollercoaster. But I was happy and having fun. I think if you weren’t it’d be a struggle.
“I adjusted really well and found it easy to adapt to that lifestyle.
“I loved standing at the side of stage watching funny things like Keith having a go at Ronnie.
“I used to love getting home, though, and not having to live out of a suitcase. Just getting home and doing simple things like cooking.”
Now Jo says that while she still likes a drink, these are very different days.
She’ll then look to make the next day extra healthy, all part of a fresh outlook after a serious health scare in 1989 when she was originally misdiagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
“When they finally did exploratory surgery and found it was a perforated appendix they said it was amazing I was still alive.
“I started thinking about all the rubbish I’d been putting in my system and as I lay in hospital I decided I was going to be an organic girl for the rest of my life.
“For me that’s normal. If I can’t find anything natural, I hate that.”
The beauty range she founded, Jo Wood Organics, was put on the back burner in recent years as she concentrated on other things.
But Jo has now actively returned to it.
“I started with candles, body oil and fragrance just last year, which are available online and at Fortnum & Mason.
“Now I’ve just finished working on formulating salt scrub, body wash, face probiotics and face oil.
“They’ll all need to be tested first of course and I really want to do a children’s range.
“I’m so passionate about this and have so many things I want to do.”
And there’s at least one other thing on her must-do list – document her rock chick days with the world’s biggest band.
“I’ve been asked to put together a book,” she adds. “I have so many things – tickets, photographs, notes from Keith and Ronnie, little doodles – and I need to sit down and sort it all.
“It won’t be words, just lots of this stuff from the mad days on the road.
“I need to be getting that sorted, not sitting in the sun in Spain.”