In The Magazine

Me and Mrs. Jones

by Karen Moline Photographed by Ben Fink Shapiro
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
img
img
Follow by Email
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

The bride wore a white cashmere Loro Piana coat, black gabardine YSL trousers, a Charlotte Ronson white blouse, black YSL ankle boots and underwear from Hanky Panky that she picked out from her closet.


The groom wore a white shirt from Etro, a Dior jacket, and a John Varvatos scarf that he picked out from his.


The flowers were pink roses still wrapped in the plastic from the Korean deli around the corner from New York’s City Hall, where Mick Jones and Ann Dexter-Jones tied the knot for the second time on March 16, 2017, thirty-two years after they first said their vows in the garden of their rented house on Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton. 


“Oh, our first wedding was so jolly that two of our guests were arrested for DUI when they were driving home afterwards,” Ann says. “Mick offered to go get them, but he wasn’t fit to drive, so we sent his roadie to bail them out. On a bicycle. He was in no shape to drive, either!”


Although wedding number two was a surprise to their friends, the happy couple had gradually been rekindling their relationship for three years. “We kept it on the down-low, as I wanted to protect the kids in case it didn’t happen, so whenever we’d be seen out with anyone we’d say, oh, we’re just friends,” Ann explains. “We wanted to make it about us, to get through all the past—when getting back together there are certain obstacles, memories, places, people who get in the way. The shoe fits already; maybe it just needed an insole. So it was nice to have no public expectations.”


Ann and Mick Jones were long one of New York’s golden couples, seemingly indestructible, socially savvy, able to move seamlessly uptown and down, and clearly mad for each other despite wildly disparate backgrounds (hers, the Jewish intelligentsia; his, rock and roll). 


So how did they end up at City Hall getting hitched for a second time?


Ann grew up in Liverpool, the second of five children. Her father was a Viennese-born eye surgeon; his uncle Oscar Deutsch founded the Odeon chain of cinemas. When Ann was ten, her father summoned his children into the library, announced that their life was too staid and, as he spun a globe, said that they’d find a new life of adventure wherever his finger landed for. 


Off they sailed to Australia, with tragic consequences, as Ann’s mother died five weeks after their arrival, at the age of thirty-nine. Ann’s family continued their travels, and she went to fourteen schools in three different countries before returning to England, meeting and marrying band manager/real estate heir Laurence Ronson in her early twenties, and soon giving birth to Mark and the twins Samantha and Charlotte. They lived in a sumptuous house in St. John’s Wood, just down the road from Paul and Linda McCartney, until the marriage ended badly and a stray thunderbolt arrived one night in the form of a hard-partying guitar player and songwriter.


“I was going through a very difficult time in my second marriage, and a friend invited me out,” Mick says. “We arrived in this house in St. John’s Wood and I saw this woman walking down the stairs with her hair in a towel and blue jeans and a tee shirt…and I almost fell over. I just knew. We started chatting and then we went to a club called Tramp, and she was being very cynical and treating me like an ignorant rock and roller. I remember we had an exchange about Champagne because I was a bit of an expert, and I told her that Cristal was much better than Dom Pérignon.” He laughs. “Honestly, I could have said just about anything—I was in such a dream state. Starting the next day, I sent her an orchid every day for months. I could have bought a flower shop. Although it did take us a while to get engaged because we both had to get divorced.”


Born in 1944, Mick grew up in Somerset, UK, always wanting to be a musician. At seventeen, he went to France as the guitarist in a backup band for a friend, and was soon playing with singers Sylvie Vartan and Johnny Hallyday. “In 1969, we were going to be performing at a benefit for UNICEF in Paris, and I hadn’t realized that John Lennon and George Harrison and the Beach Boys were going to be there, so I was a bit nervous,” he says. “I was walking around backstage and I heard some rather loud noise when suddenly a door swung open and Richard Burton came storming out. Then Elizabeth Taylor came storming out after him and I got caught in the middle. As soon as they heard my voice, Burton said, ‘Oh, you’re British! Come and have a drink!’ Their argument was instantly forgotten.”


In 1976, Mick formed Foreigner. The combination of his musicianship and songwriting skills and the unique voice of singer Lou Gramm made them superstars, with more than 80 million albums sold, more than one billion Pandora spins, and nine top ten hits, most notably the worldwide number one “I Want to Know What Love Is,” which Mick wrote for Ann in 1984.  


Married life agreed with them. They moved to New York’s San Remo, and their apartment became hangout central for famous friends like Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Andy Warhol and Michael Jackson. Son Alexander and daughter Annabelle were born, and Ann decided to raise her brood with the same tough

love her parents had given her—even after she’d lost her mother so young (Mick’s mother had suffered from undiagnosed bipolar disorder most of her life. “She would go from being completely effervescent and so happy and warm and loving to just lying in bed all day, not getting up,” he says. “There was no word for it in those days. People suffered all kinds of things in silence”).


Ann says, “My mother had a great sense of humor. She was strict but incredibly grounded, and instead of wanting to forget what she did or said, I was desperately holding on to those pearls of wisdom to keep her alive. She was just so wise. She loved life so much—always saw the positive in everything. 


“I was a bit of a Mummy Dearest. They had an hour of TV a day, and could only use the phone between 6:30 and 7:30, and they said, ‘But, Mummy, we sit down to dinner at seven.’ I went, ‘Oops!’ When they were thirteen, I gave them a dollar each week for every year of age. They didn’t need more because they were too young to drink and drugs were illegal, so if they wanted to get into trouble they’d have to be creative and get a job on weekends. They saw their dads working, and I freelanced as a writer and did a lot of charity work, and they needed to know how important it was to earn their own money. They got internships and worked as deejays, and Annabelle got a job making sweet faces on the cappuccinos at the Coffee Shop on Union Square. After her first shift she came home so excited. ‘Look, Mummy!’ she said. ‘I made six dollars today!’ 


“Still, they thought I was the Wicked Witch,” Ann adds with a laugh. “I always said, ‘You think I’m strict? You didn’t grow up with my parents.’” Life wasn’t all curfews and phone restrictions, however, as the kids often spent summers on tour with Mick—packed up, as Ann says, “like the von Trapps, or maybe the seven little dwarves.” 


Or, they’d hang out in the Hamptons. “I started going out in 1977, and I always had a boat,” Mick says. “I grew to know the waters so well I could circumnavigate Shelter Island at night. Then we got a power boat that was the prototype for the Israeli navy, and it was very, very fast and made us quite popular. We could go from one house to another in a blink of an eye.”


Clearly, the tough love worked, because all the Ronson and Jones children are remarkably accomplished: how many kids have inspired T-shirts like the collectible “I Want to Be a Ronson”? Mark is the astonishingly prolific music producer/singer/songwriter/DJ responsible for Amy Winehouse’s breakout album and the worldwide smash single Uptown Funk with Bruno Mars. Charlotte is a fashion designer, married to Nate Ruess of the indie band Fun, and mom to their baby, Levon, born in February 2017. Samantha is an acclaimed DJ and member of the band Ocean Park Standoff. Alexander is a musician/ DJ, too, currently recording an album in LA. Annabelle modeled for Charlotte’s label and cowrote, directed and starred in an 11-minute short, Cecile on the Phone, which debuted at Sundance this January. Mick’s eldest son, Roman, is a restaurateur in Miami, and his brother, Christian, is a musician, currently recording an album as well. 


“I wanted them to believe they were capable,” Ann says. “They all have a very quick wit, and they’re all very humble and work very hard. I always told them to find their passion and follow it.” 


Equally successful is Ann’s jewelry line, bracelets and more inspired by the baubles she’d see in flea markets when on tour with Mick. “I remember standing outside with my eyes closed and visualizing, if I had one in silver inlaid with lapis on the top there’d be silver screws and yellow diamonds, or a gold one inlaid with lapis and gold screws and white diamonds. It would be so chic. And then I opened my eyes and said to myself, Oh don’t be silly, Ann. No one is going to read your mind—make them yourself!”


Her cunning, gorgeous little bracelets won so many compliments that Ann got serious about jewelry making once the kids were grown. “One day at an event, a reporter from the Los Angeles Times asked how I’d describe my jewelry, and I thought, “Oh my god, it’s the Times and I have to be smart and think of something and I just went, ‘It’s rock and roll chic for women and secure men.’ That became my tagline. I call my pieces wearable art. It’s playful, and it has to make you feel good.”


Running her business also kept Ann from dwelling on the couple’s divorce in 2007 after twenty-two years of marriage. 


“It was the saddest time of my life when we weren’t together,” Mick admits. “I was living an elevated rock and roll lifestyle; we all know what that is. Like the time Sean Penn and I went to see the movie Great Balls of Fire. ‘Hey, let’s go see Dennis Quaid at the Plaza Hotel,’ Sean said as we walked out of the cinema. He had this souped-up sports car waiting, and he drove the wrong way, so we ended up driving round Columbus Circle more than a few times until we finally got to the Plaza, where Sean drove the car up the steps, hopped out, tossed the keys to the shocked doorman, and said, ‘Park it!’ ”


He grins ruefully. “I had to understand my part of the problem in our marriage, so I set out trying to find an answer. It ended up in having a greater relationship with all my children. I was the biggest winner at the end of the day.


“Being apart strengthened what we have,” he adds. “Obviously we had time to iron out a few quirks, but I think we both matured in a way—not to say we’ve grown old!—but we’re able to talk through things now that we fought about before, and there are less buttons to push because we’re too tired.” 


Hardly. Not only is Foreigner celebrating its fortieth anniversary with a global tour, a greatest-hits album release, and Mick’s band biography, A Foreigner’s Tale, but they’re also performing some of their concerts with a 60-piece orchestra and a 40-piece choir. 


“We have such a wide audience now–I look out sometimes and see young kids with their parents or grandparents, and it’s so gratifying,” he says. “Being onstage keeps you young, and these days it keeps me out of trouble. It used to be the other way round!”


Which brings us back to City Hall. “I told Mick that he could play travel agent and organize a wedding,” Ann says. “We went downtown to file for the marriage license, and when they told us we could be married twenty-four hours later, Mick and I looked at each other, and thought, why don’t we just come back here tomorrow?


“On the way out, Mick said, ‘I suppose we ought to get a ring.’ I was just thinking of a simple gold band, but I didn’t know where we’d find something like that near City Hall, which is when Mick’s assistant Mariusz said, ‘Well, Mr. Jones, would you like me to pick out the ring?’ and we laughed and I said, ‘I think it would be a little more romantic if Mick got it. Let’s do something really New York and go to Tiffany.’ So we headed uptown, and fortunately for me there were all these barriers by Trump Tower and nowhere for the car to stop, and that’s when I saw Van Cleef & Arpels.”


“My heart sank for a moment,” Mick interjects. 


“Well, we sat down and were given Van Cleef chocolates and Van Cleef coffee and said we wanted gold bands, and they brought out a tray of these huge cocktail rings,” Ann adds. “I asked for something a little daintier, so I got this lovely ring of diamond daisies.” 


Mick got a simple gold band with an inset diamond. “When we were there I remembered I had bought something for Ann from Van Cleef many years ago,” he says, “so it actually was kind of sentimental, too.” 


Like Mr. and Mrs. Jones. 


“The circumstances got in the way for a while,” Mick says, gazing at Ann with a shy, knowing smile, “but the love was always strong.”


styled by Emily Barnes and Shannon Mac Ardhail


hair by Osmane Da Cunha at Kramer + Kramer


makeup by Andriani Vasiliou at Kramer + Kramer


fashion assistance by Edwin Exaus


photographed at The Barns on Hedges in Sagaponack, represented for sale and rent by Gary DePersia, Associate Broker, the Corcoran Group, 516.380.0538, gdp@corcoran.com, myhamptonhomes.com




MORE FROM IN THE MAGAZINE
img

10 Things To Do This Weekend

It's now officially Summer! Celebrate the new season with exciting events around NYC and the Hamptons.

Out
img

Hamptons Moment: The Wild, Wild East

Lawyer Eddie Burke Jr. reflects on his time in the restaurant business

In The Magazine
img
At Home

Their House is a Museum

A Tuxedo Park real estate relic

by Adam GordonPhotographed by Billy Farrall