|Img Capt:||Rod Stewart in Oslo (1976)|
|Birth Name:||Roderick David Stewart|
|Alias:||Rod the Bod|
Rod the Mod
|Born:||1945 1, df=yes|
|Genre:||Rock, pop, blues-rock|
|Instrument:||Vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonica|
|Label:||Vertigo, Mercury, Riva, Warner Bros., Atlantic, J|
|Associated Acts:||Faces, The Jeff Beck Group|
With his distinctive raspy voice, Stewart came to prominence in the late 1960s and early '70s with The Jeff Beck Group and then Faces. He launched his solo career in 1969 with his debut album An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down. His work with The Jeff Beck Group and The Faces proved to be influential on the formation of the heavy metal and punk rock genres, respectively.  Both bands were also pioneers of blues-rock.
With his career in its fifth decade, Stewart has achieved numerous solo hit singles worldwide, most notably in the UK, where he has garnered six consecutive number one albums and his tally of 62 hit singles include 31 that reached the top 10, six of which gained the number one position. He has also had 16 top ten singles in the USA, with four of these reaching number one. His most-known solo hit singles are "Maggie May", "You Wear It Well", "Sailing", "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)", "Hot Legs", "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?", "Forever Young" and "Rhythm of My Heart." It has been estimated that Stewart's album and single sales total more than 250 million, earning him a place on the list of best-selling music artists.
Stewart was born the youngest of five children in Archway, North London, England to parents Robert and Elsie Stewart, who ran a newsagent. Rod was the first of his siblings (two brothers, two sisters) to be born in England after the family moved from Scotland. He attended the William Grimshaw School in Hornsey.
The Stewart family were great fans of the singer Al Jolson and would sing and play his hits. Rod collected his records, read books about him and was influenced by his performing style. He decided to take up guitar at the age of eleven and joined a skiffle group with schoolfriends called the Kool Kats, playing Lonnie Donegan and Chas McDevitt hits.
After he left school, Stewart worked briefly as a silk screen printer. He also had trials with football clubs including Brentford (based in West London). He then worked as a grave digger, fence erector and sign writer. He was also an active supporter of CND at this time. He joined protest marches to Aldermaston and was arrested when he took part in sit ins for the cause. He soon switched to a career in music joining folk singer Wizz Jones in the early 1960s busking and travelling around Europe; this resulted in his being deported from Spain for vagrancy.
In the spring of 1962, he helped to found The Ray Davies Quartet, later known as the successful British band The Kinks, as their lead singer. He performed with the group on at least one occasion, but was soon dropped due to complaints about his voice from then-drummer John Start's mother as well as musical and personality differences with the rest of the band. This has been denied by both Ray and Dave Davies; however he did play on a football team with Ray at that time.
After returning to London he also joined Jimmy Powell & the Five Dimensions in 1964 as a vocalist and harmonica player. Together they recorded a single for Pye Records. Long John Baldry discovered him drunk and busking for his train fare and invited him to join The Hoochie Coochie Men which recorded a single "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl", which failed to enter the charts. The Hoochie Coochie Men evolved into Steampacket featuring Stewart, Baldry, Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger, Mickey Waller and Rick Brown. Steampacket toured with the Rolling Stones and the Walker Brothers on tour in the summer of 1965. They also recorded tracks that weren't released as an album until 1970, after Stewart had become well known in musical circles. Stewart earned the nickname "Rod the Mod" during that period, as a result of his appearance in a 1965 BBC documentary on the mod subculture. Steampacket broke up in early 1966 with Stewart joining Shotgun Express as lead vocalist with Beryl Marsden. Amongst the members of Shotgun Express were Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green (who would go on to form Fleetwood Mac), and Peter Bardens. Shotgun Express released one single before disbanding. There is evidence of recordings of two Mike d'Abo songs 'Little Miss Understood' and 'So Much to Say, (So Little Time)' from The Immediate Singles Collection (1985; CCSCD 102), a compilation of Immediate Record's hits.
Stewart then joined the Jeff Beck Group as vocalist, where he first played with Ronnie Wood. In 1968 their first album Truth became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and the group toured extensively. The second album Beck-Ola also was a hit in 1969 but the group members had parted ways by the end of the year. Much of Stewart's sense of phrasing was developed during his time with the Jeff Beck Group.
The US band Cactus offered Stewart a job as lead singer but he and Ronnie Wood decided instead to work with three former members of Small Faces, calling the new line-up Faces. Stewart also signed a solo recording contract with Mercury Records. An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down became his first solo album in 1969 (it was known as The Rod Stewart Album in the US). It established the template for his solo sound: a heartfelt mixture of folk, rock, and country blues, inclusive of a British working-class sensibility, with both original material ("Cindy's Lament" and the title song) and cover versions (Ewan MacColl's "Dirty Old Town" and Mike d'Abo's "Handbags and Gladrags").
Faces released their debut album First Step in early 1970 with a rock and roll style similar to the Rolling Stones that was a major departure from the psychedelic-tinged pop of Small Faces. While the album did better in the UK than in the US, the Faces quickly earned a strong live following. Stewart released his second album, Gasoline Alley that autumn (Elkie Brooks later achieved a hit with a version of the title track in 1983). Rod's approach was similar to his first album, as exemplified by the title track; and mandolin was introduced into the sound. He then launched a solo tour. Stewart sang guest vocals for the Australian group Python Lee Jackson on "In a Broken Dream" in 1970. His payment was a set of seat covers for his car. It was re-released in 1972 to become a worldwide hit.
Stewart's 1971 solo album Every Picture Tells a Story made him a household name when the B-side of his minor hit "Reason to Believe", "Maggie May", started receiving radio play. The album and the single hit number one in both the US and the UK simultaneously, a chart first, in September. A loss of innocence tale set off by a striking mandolin part (by Ray Jackson of Lindisfarne), "Maggie May" was also named in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, which is one of three songs by him to appear on that list. The rest of the album was equally strong, with "Mandolin Wind" again showcasing that instrument; "(I Know) I'm Losing You" adding hard-edged soul to the mix; and "Tomorrow Is a Long Time", a cover of a Bob Dylan song. But the ultimate manifestation of the early Stewart solo style was the Stewart-Wood-penned "Every Picture Tells a Story" itself: powered by Mick Waller's drumming and a mostly acoustic arrangement, it is a fast, rocking, headlong romp relating the picaresque adventures of the singer.
The second Faces album, Long Player, was released in early 1971 and enjoyed greater chart success than First Step. The Faces also got their only US Top 40 hit with "Stay With Me" from their third album A Nod Is as Good as a Wink...To a Blind Horse released in late 1971. This album reached the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic on the back of the success of Every Picture Tells A Story. Throughout this period there was a marked dichotomy between Stewart's solo and group work, the former being meticulously crafted while the latter tended towards the boozy and sloppy. Steve Jones from The Sex Pistols regarded The Faces very highly and named them as a main influence on the British punk rock movement.
The Faces toured extensively in 1972 with growing tension in the band over Stewart's solo career enjoying more success than the band's. Stewart released Never a Dull Moment in the same year. Repeating the Every Picture formula for the most part, it reached number two on the US album charts and number one in the UK, and enjoyed further good notices from reviewers. "You Wear It Well" was a hit single that reached number 13 in the US and went to number one in the UK, while "Twisting the Night Away" made explicit Stewart's debt to Sam Cooke. For the body of his early solo work Stewart earned tremendous critical praise. Rolling Stone’s 1980 Illustrated History of Rock & Roll includes this in its Stewart entry:
Rarely has a singer had as full and unique a talent as Rod Stewart [...] a writer who offered profound lyricism and fabulous self-deprecating humour, teller of tall tales and honest heartbreaker, he had an unmatched eye for the tiny details around which lives turn, shatter, and reform [...] and a voice to make those details indelible. [... His solo albums] were defined by two special qualities: warmth, which was redemptive, and modesty, which was liberating. If ever any rocker chose the role of everyman and lived up to it, it was Rod Stewart.
The Faces released their final album Ooh La La which reached number one in the UK and number 21 in the US in 1973. The band toured Australasia, Japan, Europe and the UK in 1974 to support the album and the single "Pool Hall Richard".
In late 1974 Stewart released his Smiler album, which proved to be a disappointment. In Britain, it reached number one, and the single "Farewell" number seven, but only number 13 on the Billboard pop album charts and the single "Mine for Me" only number 91 on the Billboard pop singles charts. Smiler is generally regarded as Stewart's weakest album of the 1970s; it was also his last original album for Mercury Records. After the release of the double album compilation The Best of Rod Stewart he switched to Warner Bros. Records and remained with them throughout the vast majority of his career.
In 1975, Rod Stewart moved to the US, applying for citizenship due to his love affair with Britt Ekland and a fight with the UK tax authorities. He released the Atlantic Crossing album for his new record company, using producer Tom Dowd and a different sound based on the Muscle Shoals rhythm section. Atlantic Crossing marked both a return to form and a return to the Top 10 of the Billboard album charts. The first single, a cover of the Sutherland Brothers song "Sailing", was a number one hit in the UK, but it only reached the Top 60 of the US charts. The single returned to the UK Top 10 a year later when used as the theme music for a BBC documentary series about HMS Ark Royal, and having been a hit twice over became, and remains, Stewart's biggest-selling single in the UK. Holland-Dozier-Holland cover "This Old Heart Of Mine" was also a Top 100 hit in 1976. Additionally in 1976 Stewart covered the Beatles song “Get Back” for the ephemeral musical documentary All This and World War II.
Later in 1976, Stewart topped the Billboard singles charts for eight weeks and the Australian singles charts with the ballad "Tonight's the Night", with an accompanying music video featuring Ekland. It came from the A Night on the Town album, which went to number two on the Billboard album charts and was Stewart's first album to go platinum. By explicitly marking the album as having a "fast side" and a "slow side", Stewart continued the trend started by Atlantic Crossing. "The First Cut Is the Deepest", a cover of a Cat Stevens song, went Top 30 in the US in 1977 and number one in the UK. "The Killing of Georgie (Part 1 and 2)", about the murder of a gay man, was also a Top 40 hit for Stewart during 1977.
Foot Loose & Fancy Free from 1977 continued Stewart's run of chart success, again reaching number two. "You're In My Heart" was the hit single, reaching number four in the US. The rocker "Hot Legs" achieved a lot of radio airplay as did the confessional "I Was Only Joking". In appearance, Stewart's look had evolved to include a glam element, including make-up and spandex clothes. Stewart scored another UK number one and US number one single with "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" which was a crossover hit reaching number five on the Billboard black charts due to its disco sound. This was the lead single from 1978's Blondes Have More Fun...or do they? which went to number one on the Billboard album charts and sold 4 million albums. It was to be Stewart's last number one album for 25 years.
A focal point of criticisms about this period was his biggest-selling 1978 disco hit "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?", which was atypical of his earlier output, and disparaged by critics. In interviews, Stewart, while admitting his accompanying look had become "tarty", has defended the lyrics by pointing out that the song is a third-person narrative slice-of-life portrayal, not unlike those in his earlier work, and that it is not about him. However, the song's refrain was identical to Brazilian Jorge Ben Jor's earlier "Taj Mahal" and a lawsuit ensued. Stewart donated his royalties from the song to UNICEF, and he performed it at the Music for UNICEF Concert at the United Nations General Assembly in 1979.
Rod moved a bit to a more New Wave direction in 1980 by releasing the album Foolish Behaviour. The album produced one hit single in the song "Passion". In 1981, Stewart added further elements of New Wave and synth pop to his sound for the Tonight I'm Yours album. The title song and "Young Turks" both reached the Top 5 of the Billboard charts with the album going platinum. In August 1981, MTV was launched in the US with several of Stewart's videos in heavy rotation. On 18 December 1981, Stewart played the Los Angeles Forum, along with Kim Carnes and Tina Turner. This show was broadcast around the world to a television audience of 35 million.
Stewart's career then went into a relative slump, and his albums between Tonight I'm Yours (1981) and Out of Order (1988), received harsh criticism from many critics. He only had three Top 10 singles between 1982 and 1988, although "Baby Jane" became his sixth and final UK number one in 1983. The corresponding Camouflage album went gold in the UK, and the single Infatuation received considerable play on MTV. The second single "Some Guys Have All The Luck" reached #15 in the UK and #10 in the US. A reunion with Jeff Beck produced a successful take on Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready", but an attempt to tour together fell apart after a few dates. He reached UK number two in 1986 with "Every Beat Of My Heart".
In January 1985, he performed at the Rock 'n Rio Festival before an estimated audience of 100,000+. His performance during a stormy night was described by Stewart himself as “winning the world soccer championship”. In 1988, he returned with Out Of Order, produced by Duran Duran's Andy Taylor and by Bernard Edwards of Chic. "Lost in You," "Forever Young" "My Heart Can't Tell You No" and "Crazy About Her" from that album were all top 15 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and mainstream rock charts. "Forever Young" was an unconscious revision of Bob Dylan's song of the same name; the artists reached an agreement about sharing royalties. The name of the child in the video is Alex Zuckerman.
In January 1989, Rod set out on the South American leg of the Out of Order Tour playing to sell-out audiences throughout Americas. In Corregidora Stadium, Santiago de Queretaro, México 9 April, 50,000 people, Jalisco Stadium, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico April 12, 80,000 people saw Rod's performance. In Buenos Aires the River Plate Stadium, which seats 70,000+, was estimated to have had in attendance more than 90,000, with several thousand outside the stadium. Firehoses were sprayed on the crowd to avoid heat prostration.
Stewart's version of the Tom Waits song "Downtown Train" went to number two of the US singles charts in 1990. This song was taken from a four-CD compilation set called Storyteller. The Vagabond Heart album continued his comeback with "Rhythm of My Heart" and "Motown Song" both reaching the Top 10. Also in 1990 he recorded "It Takes Two" with Tina Turner which reached number five on the UK charts.
In 1991 Stewart contributed guest lead vocals to the song "My Town" by the Canadian band Glass Tiger.
In 1993, he recorded "All For Love" with Sting and Bryan Adams for the soundtrack to the movie The Three Musketeers; the single reached number one on the US charts. Also in 1993, Stewart reunited with Ronnie Wood to record an MTV Unplugged special that included "Handbags and Gladrags", "Cut Across Shorty", and four selections from Every Picture Tells A Story. The show also featured an acoustic version of Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately" which topped the Billboard adult contemporary chart and went Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. A rendition of "Reason to Believe" also garnered considerable airplay. The Unplugged album reached number two on the Billboard album charts.
Stewart was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. On 31 December on the same year he played in front on 3.5 million people on Copacabana (Rio de Janeiro) in Rio. In 1995, Stewart released A Spanner in the Works containing a single written by Tom Petty "Leave Virginia Alone" which reached the Top 10 of the adult contemporary charts. The latter half of the 1990s was not so commercially successful with If We Fall In Love Tonight not making much of an impression on the charts.
When We Were the New Boys, his final album on the Warner Bros. label released in 1998, contained versions of songs by Britpop acts such as Oasis and Primal Scream, and reached number two on the UK album charts. In 2000, Stewart decided to leave Warner Bros. Records and moved to Atlantic Records, another division of Warner Music Group. In 2001, he released his only album "Human" on the Atlantic label. Human only just reached the Top 50 in 2001 with the single "I Can't Deny It" going Top 40 in the UK and Top 20 in the adult contemporary.
Stewart then signed to Clive Davis' new J Records label. The Story So Far: the Very Best Of, a greatest hits album compiled from his time at Warner Bros., went to the Top 10 in the UK and reached number one in places like Belgium and France in 2001.
In recent years Stewart has concentrated on singing 1930s and 1940s pop standards from the "Great American Songbook", written by songwriters such as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, with great popular success but middling critical success. These albums have been released on Clive Davis's J Records label and have seen Stewart enjoy album sales equal to the 1970s.
The first album from the songbook series, It Had to Be You ... The Great American Songbook, reached number four on the US album chart, number eight in the UK and number ten in Canada when released in late 2002. The track These Foolish Things (which is actually a British, not American, song) reached number 13 on the Billboard adult contemporary charts and number two in Taiwan. "They Can't Take That Away From Me" went Top 20 on the world Internet charts and Top 30 on the adult contemporary charts.
The second series album, , reached number two in the US, number four in the UK and number one in Canada. "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered", a duet with Cher went Top 20 on the US adult contemporary charts and Top 5 in Taiwan. "Time After Time" was another Top 30 track on the US adult contemporary charts. A musical called Tonight's The Night featuring many of Stewart's songs opened 7 November 2003 at London's Victoria Palace theatre. It is written and directed by Ben Elton, who previously created a similar production; We Will Rock You, with music by Queen.
In 2004, Stewart reunited with Ronnie Wood for concerts of The Faces material. A Rod Stewart and the Faces best of Changing Faces reached the Top 20 of the UK album charts. Five Guys Walk Into A Bar, a Faces box set compilation, went into the shops. Stewart has also mentioned working with Wood on an album to be entitled You Strum, I'll Sing. In late 2004, Stardust ... The Great American Songbook 3, the third album in the series, was released. It was his first US number one album in 25 years, selling over 200,000 albums in its first week. It also debuted at number one in Canada, number three in the UK and Top 10 in Australia. His version of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World", featuring Stevie Wonder has made the Top 20 of the world adult charts. He also recorded a duet with Dolly Parton for the album - "Baby, It's Cold Outside". Stewart won his first ever Grammy Award for this album.
18 October 2005 saw the release of the fourth and final songbook album. it included duets with Diana Ross and Elton John. Within weeks of its release, the CD made it to number two on the Top 200 list. In late 2006, Stewart made his return to rock music and his new approach to country music with the release of Still the Same... Great Rock Classics of Our Time, a new album featuring rock and southern rock milestones from the last four decades, including a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" which was released as the first single. The album was released on 10 October. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts with 184,000 copies in its first week. The number one debut was helped by a concert in NYC that was on MSN music and an appearance on Dancing With The Stars. He performed tracks from his new album Live from the Nokia Theater on 9 October. Control Room broadcast the event Live on MSN and in 117 movie theatres across the country via National CineMedia. The BBC quoted in their Breakfast Show on 1 November 2006 that Rod Stewart is one of the top ten biggest-selling artists in recording history, with well over 250,000,000 records sold.
On 12 December, he performed for the first time at The Royal Variety Performance at The London Coliseum in front of HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, singing another Cat Stevens number, "Father and Son", and the Bonnie Tyler song It's a Heartache. On 22 December 2006 Stewart hosted the 8th Annual A Home for the Holidays special on CBS at 8:00 PM (PST). In 2007, Rod's son Sean starred in the A&E television show Sons of Hollywood, in which Rod's role as a parent is a major theme. Rod Stewart performed "Sailing" and "Baby Jane" plus "Maggie May" at the memorial concert for Princess Diana in the same year.
On 11 June 2008, Stewart announced that the Faces are discussing a reunion for at least one or two concerts. .
In 1999, Stewart was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, for which he underwent surgery in July 2000. Besides being a major health scare, the resulting surgery also threatened his famous voice, and he had to re-learn how to sing. Since then he has been active in raising funds for The City of Hope Foundation charity to find cures for all forms of cancer, especially those affecting children.
Stewart has remained physically active in recent years, playing in a senior soccer league in Palos Verdes, California and still kicking balls into the audience during concerts. When discussing the rock 'n' roll excesses he has been through in his career, he maintains that his love of playing football has been his saviour. As a fan, he is a well-known supporter of Celtic F.C., which he mentions in his hit "You're in my Heart", and the Scotland national team. Rod is one of only two people to have a seat for life at Celtic Park, the other one being the comedian Billy Connolly. Stewart also follows Manchester United as his English side, and he explains his love affair with both Celtic and Man United in Frank Worall's book Celtic United. He explains the meaning behind the line " You're Celtic, United, but baby I've decided You're the best team I've ever seen." In appearance, Stewart still maintains his trademark rooster-style haircut.
Stewart is also a keen model railway enthusiast, having a 23 x 124-foot HO scale layout in his California home, model after the New York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroads during the 1940s, which has now made the pages of the December 2007 issue of Model Railroader Magazine. In the article he said that he would rather be in a model railroading magazine than a music magazine, and his passion for the hobby has been blamed for contributing to the end of his second marriage. He has a layout based on Britain's East Coast Main Line at his UK home. He is also known for owning one of the 400 Enzo Ferrari. On 11 October 2005, Stewart received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 2093 Hollywood Blvd. On 18 April and 19 April 2006 Stewart was the guest artist and celebrity vocal coach on American Idol, leading the remaining seven finalists in singing entries from the Great American Songbook.
Throughout his career Stewart has been known for his liaisons with attractive women (fathering seven children with five of them; the oldest being born in 1964 and his latest child being born in November 2005):
In reference to his many relationships, Rod Stewart was once quoted as saying, "Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house."
During his career, Rod Stewart has been a member of a number of groups including:
See main article: Rod Stewart discography.