Ready to Rumba? Strictly contestant Jo Wood faces ferocious divorce battle with Ronnie - who is backed by the lawyer Mick Jagger used to crush Jerry Hall

By Alison Boshoff
Last updated at 1:51 PM on 08th September 2009

Jo Wood wants to be more than just another superannuated rock chick. Accordingly, there has been a lot of talk about ' dignity' and much po-faced chatter about the merits of being a strong woman, standing alone. Quite how this fits in with capering around in a sparkly frock while clinging to a male dancer, it's hard to say.
Still, Jo Wood is apparently 'very excited' and 'simply over the moon' to be on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, and was this week starting rehearsals in West London.

'I don't want to just be known as Ronnie's ex or the dumped wife. I want to learn something new and have fun,' she said, peeking out from beneath her long peroxide fringe.


Moving on: Jo Wood, with partner Brendan Cole, will star in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing


Jo, 54, hopes that this is the start of a reinvention of her public image, and hopes that she will become famous in her own right as a role model for older women everywhere.
She would also like to be respected for her credentials as a green entrepreneur - she sells organic perfume and beauty products, which have numerous high-profile fans. However, as we shall see, the business side is not all it is cracked up to be - her company is deep in the red and last year made a loss of 437,000.
As for her claims to be a strong woman, standing alone - well, this may be enough to bring a wry smile to the raddled features of her estranged Rolling Stone husband, to whom she was married for 30 years.
Now, a year since he ran off with a young Kazakh cocktail waitress, Jo has dried her tears and expressed the wish to pocket half of her husband's fortune.
And it is this ongoing drama - in which Jo will take on the machinery of the Rolling Stones and attempt to get whatever money she can out of Ronnie - that is likely to be far more enthralling than watching her tackle the paso doble and American Smooth.
In around a month's time, the lawyers on both sides will reveal how much they think Ronnie is worth - and the haggling will begin in earnest.


In with the new: Ronnie Wood with new girlfriend, Ekatarina Ivanova, a young Kazakh cocktail waitress . The Stones camp believe that soon she will be pregnant with his child

Jo looks likely to walk away with 15million or more, plus their huge marital home in Kingston, Surrey. The fate of the home in Ireland - where Ronnie first took Ekaterina 'Katia' Ivanova, 20 - has yet to be decided. It will probably be sold and the proceeds split.
Jo says that she is entitled to half of the lot because she was instrumental in keeping him fit enough to work as a musician, and in fostering his parallel career as a painter.
There's no doubt that her role was an important one. There were times, in the early 1980s, when Ronnie, now 62, would lock himself in the bathroom for days, freebasing cocaine. It was up to Jo to persuade him to come out.
She attempted for decades to curb his narcotic excesses and saved him from prison once by disposing of a lump of cocaine in a box containing the children's water-wings when the police raided their holiday home.
At that time, he was so badly addicted that the children were banned from eating meringues because Ronnie would crawl around the kitchen floor, believing the crumbs to be drugs and attempting to smoke them.


Doting wife: Jo claims she is entitled to half of Ronnie's fortune because she was instrumental in keeping him fit enough to work as a musician

More recently, Jo would prepare him meals on a two-ring stove in hotel rooms around the world and was at his side for the duration of every Stones tour. The band paid her a salary to be his 'wardrobe mistress'.
Looking after Ronnie was her full-time job - in an interview before they parted, she said: 'I'm a grounding influence. He's a maniac. If I didn't put food in front of him, he wouldn't eat. If I didn't remind him to rest, he'd carry on till he dropped. He forgets to look after himself - but I'm totally into looking after him.'
Jo also claims that their children continue to rely upon her to maintain their lifestyles. Leah and Tyrone are grown up - as are Jesse and Jamie, Ronnie's child by his first marriage and her son by her first marriage, respectively - but Jo will contend that she still looks after them all.
Leah, for instance, has just had a baby named Maggie and is living with her husband in the grounds of the former marital home in Kingston. Jamie is also to some extent dependent on his mother; he runs the business side of her organic beauty range. 'She wants something like 50 per cent because she supports the family, too,' a friend of Jo's said this week.
But there has been no settlement yet. A spokesman for Ronnie said: 'While productive discussions are taking place between Ronnie and Jo's advisers, there is as yet no agreed divorce settlement.'
Bad influence? Katia doesn't seem to mind him drinking - neighbours say his recycling box is always full of bottles


At the moment, lawyers on both sides are totting up how big they think Ronnie's fortune is. The estimates vary between 70million and 35 million.
Why such a disparity? Until now, Ronnie has allowed fortunes to slip through his fingers. Bills go unopened for years and the story of his life financially has been of money disappearing into either bad business ventures, such as Woody's nightclub and the Harrington Club, drugs (he once spent 40,000 on cocaine in a few months) or blown in poor commercial deals.
His former manager, Nick Cowan, recalls that when he started managing the rocker in 1981: 'Ronnie had such an aversion to business that he wouldn't even open a letter. The house was threatened with repossession. He hadn't filed a tax return in years and there was a mountain of unpaid bills.'
From 1999, Jo's eldest son, Jamie, worked as his manager. Ronnie said in his 2007 autobiography that Jamie saved him 2 million a year, cutting their 1,000-a-week florist's bill and rationalising their 170,000-a-year tab for chauffeur-driven cars.
But Ronnie sacked Jamie by letter four months after running off with Katia and is now said to feel very dissatisfied with the job Jamie did. He was, for instance, paid 2.5million for the Bigger Bang tour, but complains he is 'broke'.
Jamie's friends say that he had taken the job 'out of love' and didn't even get commission. They point out that his being cast aside has been very painful all round.
I have learned that Ronnie has not even bothered to call by to see Jamie's new baby - essentially, his grandchild. 'Jamie is trying to move on and not be hurt by it, but Ronnie effectively adopted him. It's very sad,' a source says.

Ronnie may be a mess - he's also drinking again - but he does have some effective protection in his corner. Since his split from Jo, Ronnie has been taken once again under Mick Jagger's wing.
He has hired the lawyer, Joyce Smyth, who saw Mick through his divorce, and is apparently being advised by Mick on the painful process of disentangling his affairs from Jo's. 'Mick is pulling Ronnie's strings,' says a friend of Jo's. 'He's back in the fold.'
In fact, Mick's first advice was to ditch Ekaterina and go back to Jo, of whom the Stones are all very fond. But when Ronnie refused, Mick extended the hand of friendship to him anyway.
The issue, as far as Jo's friends are concerned, is whether a 'Stones divorce' is looming. A 'Stones divorce' is one in which the woman is paid off for as little as possible. Bianca Jagger would certainly have something to say on the subject.
Indeed, the misogyny that is so evident in the band's music apparently extends to marital skirmishes too. Anyone who doubts how rough it can get should consider for a moment Jerry Hall, who bore Mick Jagger four children and believed that their marriage ceremony in Bali had legal validity.

Man's workd: A 'Stones divorce' is one in which the woman is paid off for as little as possible

She got a paltry 12.5 million after a couple of decades of loyalty - and Mick is worth around 190 million. (No wonder Jerry turned up on Jo's doorstep when she heard about Katia and simply clasped her in a tearful embrace.)
Ronnie, being Ronnie, doesn't seem to care much about the details of the divorce. As well as the drink, he is wrapped up in his romance with Katia - he has bought her a puppy and diamonds, and taken her on holiday in a private jet.
Ronnie met her at 4am in a dive bar, and at first his family were sure that he would return to Jo. But Ronnie won't give her up. Hurtfully, he says that she's brighter than Jo and more fun to be with.
Katia doesn't seem to mind him drinking - neighbours in London's Belsize Park, where he is renting a house, say his recycling box is always full of bottles, and he's been spotted clearly drunk more than once.
The Stones camp believe that soon she will be pregnant with his child. Leah, who loathes her, calls her 'The Russian'.


Happy family: Ronnie, Jo and children Leah, then aged 13, and Tyrone, then aged 9. Ronnie will leave early in January 1993

For now, Ronnie and Jo's joint accounts at Coutts are frozen, and the estranged couple are being paid an interim monthly amount each until an agreement is made.
Meanwhile, Jo is making the most of the hand she was dealt.
She says: 'I would not have known what to do without the business. It has been a blessing.' She adds that she is determined not to lock herself away and cry. 'I want to be working hard, grannying hard and socialising hard,' she says.
You can't help but admire her grit. Her range, Jo Wood Organics, is now in Fenwicks and House of Fraser stores, and available online. Its losses - according to the latest accounts, it is 1.45 million in the red - are due to 'investments' in the business, according to her spokesman.
There are no outside investors and she has been pouring money into it in order to expand.
The products are certainly expensive - 30 for a scented candle, 24 for the salt scrub that Kate Moss apparently likes and 44 for bath oil.


Roja Dove, the world's only Perfume Professor, says that her two fragrances, Amika and Usiku, are more than just the work of an amateur. 'Her perfumes are complex and really very good. She has been totally pioneering and the organic perfumes market is growing,' he said.
'Her perfumes will not last for a long time on the skin, but this is not her fault at all - they are made by a different process to modern comercially produced perfumes and don't have the volume, lift or lasting power. I suspect the market will stay quite small, but they are good enough to be successful.'
Jo started making her own organic face oil after getting a book on the subject from her brother. She began to bottle oils in her bathroom and hand them out as gifts to friends.
She does not source any of the organic products in her beauty range. 'This wonderful expert called Collette does that, then we go to the lab and sit with the formulator and after that it's made down in Devon,' she explains.
Indeed, it's as much about her name and creative input in the packaging and marketing, as her expertise.
So far, though, she's carried the day. Jo Wood Organics is a growing brand and may yet crawl into profit. The larger question, of course, is whether she will emerge smelling so sweet after a few rounds with Mick Jagger's lawyers.