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Rod Stewart
Four decades after Rod Stewart scored his first single, the pop star is more popular than ever. His records sell in millions, and his tours sell out around the world. Every new album from him is still an event that’s meant to be talked about. With the same undeniable musical chemistry and catchy hooks that’s propelled him to the top of the charts before, his latest release Still The Same...Great Rock Classics Of Our Time looks set to be one of his best yet.

Rod Stewart: Then
Remarkably, the London born Stewart didn’t have a huge enthusiasm for music as a child. But then, this was post-war Britain ~ rock and roll had yet to be invented. Leaving school at 15, he was more interested in pursing a career as a footballer, but fate seemed to decree otherwise. He released his first single in 1964, the blues standard Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, and soon after, began turning up in a number of mid-sixties R&B bands. Noticed in 1968 as the singer with the Jeff Beck Group, the post-Yardbirds ensemble formed by their guitarist Beck, he started to gather his own fan following. Stewart then graduated to the Small Faces, and after changing their name to The Faces, they changed the rock music scene as subtly but as importantly as The Beatles and Rolling Stones before them.

At the same time as being the lead singer of The Faces, Stewart launched a parallel career as a solo artist on Phonograph Records, developing a distinctive voice and persona that began with 1969’s The Rod Stewart Album. His solo career effectively went into orbit two years later with release of the single Maggie May taken from his third solo album, 1971’s Every Picture Tells A Story. Originally released as a B-side to single Reason To Believe, six weeks later having being flipped to become an impromptu A-Side, it became his first charting single in the US, staying at #1 for five weeks, and was the second biggest selling single in the UK for that year as well.

Rod Stewart had arrived. Putting The Faces behind him, his career reached a divide with 1975’s Atlantic Crossing, which found him newly relocated to America and recording for a new label, Warner Bros Records. Thanks to strong ballads like Tonight's the Night (#1 for eight weeks) and disco pop classics like D’Ya Think I'm Sexy (#1 for five weeks), he confidently assumed the mantle of the most glamorous and popular pop star in America.

Rod Stewart: A Living Musical Genius
Has anyone in rock and roll ever been both so prolific and so superb during an equivalent span? One of the most daring and innovative artists in pop music, he made a career of being willfully out-of-step with the mainstream. His music ~ be it ballads, upbeat pop hits or single collaborations ~ combined the confessional insight of the singer-songwriter with the romantic wanderings of the beat poet. With songs like Hot Legs, D’Ya Think I’m Sexy and Blondes (Have More Fun), he brought humour, melody and attitude to rock music in the seventies that was sorely lacking.

A singer's singer, he's asserted himself across the decades as a masterful songwriter and even more as a skilled interpreter. Songs originally performed by the likes of Cat Stevens (The First Cut Is The Deepest), Van Morrison (Have I Told You Lately), Tom Waits (Downtown Train) and Robert Palmer (Some Guys Have All The Luck) have been so definitely rendered by Stewart that today those are associated as being his originals.

Rod Stewart: Pop Culture Guru
He’s the celebrity that everyone bases the life of a rock and roll star on. More than the music, it’s his attitude that’s won him such a strong following. His outlandish personality is the textbook for every rockstar that wants to become a cultural icon. Trashing hotel rooms, throwing TVs and furniture out of windows and blowing up expensive stuff…before anyone else did it, Rod Stewart did. He’s always shown remarkable creativity when it came to making headlines in the press; one particularly popular incident in an exclusive hotel included Rod and The Faces tossing a full blown piano from a tenth floor landing to the ground floor reception by throwing it over the stairs, then complaining to the manager that the piano wasn’t tuned.

His lifestyle includes fancy cars, sprawling mansions (he owns nine of them), outrageous week long parties, expensive fashionable threads; it’s no wonder women fancy him, while men admire his style and envy his way with blondes. In almost every city, across every country, there is a woman with a story about Rod Stewart and how he deflowered her. There’s also an oft-quoted story that he would go on the prowl in some of the world’s most fashionable discotheques in a sharp suit and a toy model of a Lamborghini in his pocket, and by way of introducing himself to women bring it out with the immortal words, ‘Come on, I’ve got the real thing outside.’ For all accounts, Stewart remains relatively modest about his conquests and marriages over the years, though he does have seven children by five different women to show for it.

You can read the rest of our Then And Now feature on Rod Stewart in the September 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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