Rod Stewart has revealed he shed 5kg and threw himself into yoga, psychotherapy and self-help books after his wife Rachel Hunter dumped him. He was blindsided and begged her to stay - but she wouldn't.
In an extract from his book, Rod: The Autobiography of Rod Stewart, released this week and serialised in Britain's Daily Mail, the 67-year-old divulges the lengths he went to to mend his broken heart - including lying on the couch for four months clutching a hot water bottle.
But don't accept the invite to the pity party just yet. Stewart had planned to propose to Kelly Emberg (the mother of his daughter Ruby) and hired a small plane to trail a banner popping the question.
But the night before the big romantic gesture, he met Hunter - a supermodel with a TV fitness video - at LA nightclub the Roxbury and, well, swiftly changed his mind.
"There was a connection straight away. She was extremely beautiful, but there was something no-nonsense about her as well. It was there in her New Zealand accent, but also in her face, which was open and smart," Stewart writes.
Of course, it helped that she had her own bank account.
"Not only was she as far removed as could be from the stereotype of the flaky model, but she already had money and fame. That was a relief. In my position, that suspicion was always there: does this woman really like me, or just the stuff that surrounds me?"
Stewart has been married three times: to model Alana Hamilton, Rachel Hunter and model Penny Lancaster, and his long-term girlfriends have included model Dee Harrington and model Kelly Emberg. There's a theme.
But he fell for Hunter, hard. He sent her roses and flew to New York, where she was working, on a dedicated wooing mission. She played hard to get and went to bed with him wearing a modern day chastity belt: a floor-length T-shirt.
"She wore a T-shirt that came down to her ankles - a T-shirt that said 'Not tonight, thank you' as efficiently as if she had come clanking out of the bathroom in a deep-sea diving outfit," he writes.
They consummated their relationship on a romantic fling to the Bahamas. There was a rented Learjet, a chartered boat and whispers of a wedding. Three months later they married in a Beverley Hills church. Rod was 45; Rachel was 20.
Football mates played the role of ushers wearing sunglasses and white canes. "They performed an impression of the blind leading the blind," he says.
Evidently the jokes kept coming. Rachel arrived at the altar and pinched Rod on the bum. But Rod's sister, Mary, wasn't laughing. She said, prophetically, "That girl will break his heart one day."
They had two children - Liam and Renee - and travelled together as a family when Stewart toured. They dressed, too, for dinner like lord and lady of the manor, meeting on the landing to appreciate each other's outfits and descending the stairs together.
"I had no idea how oppressive Rachel found this, how much she wished she could have been in her jeans, eating poached eggs on toast," the rock'n'roll veteran says.
Hunter wanted out of the marriage. She was unhappy and couldn't conceal it any longer.
The couple split in 1999 but Rod says he was loyal. "In the eight years we were together, I was entirely faithful ... Rachel was everything I wanted; I became a devoted husband overnight."
Hunter declined to comment. Her rep, Andy Haden, said she was interviewed for her ex-husband's book but "she hasn't read it yet". She had to delay her own book plans until next year "because Rod's book was coming out".
GREEN CARPET FOR AL GORE
Former Vice-President Al Gore can expect the full green carpet trappings at Friday night's gala dinner in Manukau where he will be guest of honour. The climate change environmentalist jets into the country on Friday morning by commercial airliner, but the carbon footprint miles will not overshadow the sustainable business message he's come to preach.
Organisers say guests - including convicted greenie activist Lucy Lawless and NZ First leader Winston Peters - will drink wine from an environmentally sustainable Marlborough winery and Gore will be driven to the venue in a hybrid BMW. Westpac - winners of the 2012 Sustainable Bank of the Year Award - have spent big bucks to sponsor the event which will be MC'd by champagne socialist-in-chief John Campbell.
CARLY'S TURN IN LIMELIGHT
As ratings for the two-women reality TV show, The Ridges, continues to slide, another Ridge woman is stepping into the spotlight. Matthew Ridge's partner Carly Binding, the mother of their 2-year-old son London, is performing in an Andrew Lloyd Webber production next month.
Binding will star in the one-woman show, Tell Me on a Sunday, which will run at Q Theatre from November 14-24. The former pop star tells The Diary the Broadway musical is a big challenge. "I'm a classically trained singer, but I had to learn how to use my voice like that again and unlearn everything I did in pop."
Former True Bliss band mate Joe Cotton is expected to attend the opening night performance - but don't expect the other members. Nor Sally and Jaime and their trailing TV cameras. There's no love lost there. Boh Runga and her sister Bic will, however, show their support in the front row. So too, Binding's beloved.