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Rod Stewart

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Rod Stewart

Born in Highgate, North London, on 10th January 1945. Rod's father Robert Joseph Stewart came from King's Port in Edinburgh, Scotland. Rod's mother, Elsie, came from Upper Holloway, North London. The Cockney girl fell for the Scot and the couple married in 1928. The Stewart clan began to appear afterwards. Rod's brothers Don and Bob and his sisters Mary and Peggy were all born in Scotland. However the family moved to London to 507 Archway Road, Highgate where after a gap of eight years, young Roddy was born. This means that Rod is the only member of the family to have been born in England, a misfortune which Rod has tended to overlook.

Rod Stewart's childhood was conventional. He lived above the newsagent's shop in Archway Road in North London. The newsagent's shop was owned by the Stewarts themselves. As already mentionned, Roderick was the youngest of five so he was spoilt by his family but of course he was taught to respect his elders, especially his parents. He was mainly interested in football and model railways. He's never lost that passion over the years. He still enjoys to play with the model railway and football is still as important (or even more) to him than it was way back in the fifties. He was very much interested in the singer Al Jolson, an American Jewish baritone, who was very popular in the thirties. Rod's father and the two brothers were football fans. They even started a local team called the 'Highgate Redwings'.

Al Jolson was Rod's great love and many times the Stewart family would regularly gather around the piano and sing Jolson's hits. When Rod became older, he started to read books about him and began to collect his records. He was very impressed by Jolson's performing style. Jolson died in 1953. He was Rod's strongest influence and that stayed with him throughout his life.

So, Rod felt that only playing football could be a way he could earn a living. He practised as much as possible and eventually signed apprentice papers with Brentford FC in West London. Robert Stewart was very pleased....however, the apprenticeship wasn't a holiday. Young Rodders was expected to get up early in the morning and much to his dismissal found himself cleaning the first team's boots most of the time. The training programme didn't appeal to him either and so after a few weeks, much to Robert Stewart's disappointment, he decided to leave the place and quit.

By the early sixties Rod had become more and more drawn into music. He'd often go out and see local bands and was interested in folk music. He was also interested in left-wing politics and began to grow his hair long and eventually became a beatnik and a communist. Of course he was a keen supporter of CND whose meetings he attended regularly. He was arrested several times at sit-ins in Trafalgar Square and Whitehall.

With Wizz Jones, a cult folk singer and guitarist, he was good friends. So the two and several friends decided to travel around Europe. For months they made their way around France, Belgium, Italy and Spain playing folk songs by the likes of Woody Guthrie to tourists. In Barcelona they made an unwelcome attention to the Spanish police. Well, Rod and his friends were arrested and taken to the police station. As many of them beatniks had out-of-date passports, the British Consulate was asked to take them back to England.....according to Rod himself, the Consulate sent them back first class on BOAC.

When finally arriving home in England, the Stewarts were unamused that their son had been thrown out of Spain for vagrancy. There was another point that Robert Stewart was ashamed of : the dirty and smelly clothes of Rod's beatnik uniform were considered to be burned by Robert Stewart himself. Roderick was asked to find whatever work he could and in quick succession he became a grave digger for about two weeks (he was afraid of death and thought this was the only way to overcome his fright). He worked as well as a fence erector and even as a newspaper delivery boy for his father's shop

Rod's beatnik phase came to an end by 1963. He became clothes conscious for the first in his life and started to develop the "Rod The Mod"-image. His folk music-interest shifted into a love of R&B and he started to hang around Eel Pie Island near Richmond where up-coming bands like The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds and The Birds played.

Back in 1959 he was presented a guitar for his 14th birthday. Well, he'd actually prefered the model railway but his father's decided to buy his youngest a guitar. So, in 1963 he began to play this guitar more seriously and learned how to play the harmonica. Britain was in the Beatlemania, the biggest pop explosion the UK had ever seen. They were everywhere....Music, he thought, might just pay off after all.....

In the autumn of 1963 Rod Stewart joined the Birmingham based band The Dimensions as a backing vocalist and harmonica player. A few weeks later, blues singer Jimmy Powell hired them as his backing group and as a result Rod was no longer allowed to sing. He only played the harmonica. The played at weddings and other social events. The band also played dates around the UK ( see "on tour"-section). At this time, Rod was still working for his family but mainly for his brother Bob as a picture framer during the day.

In January 1964 Long John Baldry (singer with The Rhythm And Blues) bumped into Rod on Twickenham railway station after having played a concert at the Eel Pie Island Hotel. Rod was singing drunkenly to himself as Baldry walked by.

1964 was also the year when Rod first recorded a demo tape for Independent Msic at a small studio in London. The songs recorded in one afternoon were "Ain't That Loving You Baby", "Moppers Blues", "Don't You Tell Nobody", "Keep Your Hands Off Her", "Just Like I Treat You", "Bright Lights Big City" and "Work Song". All these tracks with the exception of "Work Song" were eventually released without Rod's consent in 1976. (see and check the visual discography lp/cd 60s compilations)

In 1967 Rod joined the Jeff Beck Group. The line-up featured Rod on vocals, Beck on guitar, Ron Wood on bass and after using more than six different drummers, Micky Waller took over in december 1967. The band toured the UK, Europe and America. The US Tour was very important toRod Stewart. He was better known in the U.S than at home in those days. The Jeff Beck Group made two excellent albums called Truth and Beck Ola. However, in 1969 Jeff Beck sacked Ronnie Wood and Micky Waller, claiming that their playing was deteriorated. It came as a shock to Rod.

Finally, Rod Stewart left the Jeff Beck Group after an unhappy two and a half years. Rod had also signed a solo deal with Mercury Records and it was said that Ron Wood was Steve Mariott's replacement in the Small Faces. By October 1969 Rod was announced as the Small Faces new singer. The group's line-up was: Rod Stewart (vocals), Ron Wood (guitars), Ronnie Lane (bass), Ian McLagan (piano) and Kenny Jones (drums).

1970 saw the release of Rod Stewart's very first solo album. It was titled in the UK "An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down" where as in the US it was simply called "Thin". The name was suggested because of the fear of "thin"-sales...however, the album saw the light of day as "The Rod Stewart Album". (a useless piece of information: a limited number of the "Thin"-album made it to some recordshops. The word "thin" is actually printed very little on the left edge of the album's sleeve....) The album failed to chart in the UK but made number 139 in the US charts. "You know, Jagger always said to me: 'I'd never steal Woody from you Rod, you know, never steal Woody from you....well of course he DID!" (Rod on Ron Woods transfer to the Rolling Stones - the well known pop-group)...as blondes go by.... Well, of course we do concentrate on Rod's musical career and don't want to comment on his private life. The English papers' favourite theme we leave beside. Shown here in the "blondes-gallery" are the most important women in Rod's life: 1) Rod with Dee Harrington (girlfriend in the early 70s) 2) Actress Britt Ekland and Rod in 1976 (this romance lasted from '75-'77) 3) Rod tied the knot in 1979 when he married Alana. They have two children: daughter Kimberley and son Sean 4) Girlfriend Kelly Emberg pictured here with Rod in 1984. Never married but have one child - daughter Ruby 5) 1990 Rod married model Rachel Hunter. They have two children, daughter Renée and son Liam McAllister (named after a scottish football player). They separated in 1998. ...the DJ in Cleveland Rod's solo career got off in 1971 when his third album "Every Picture Tells A Story" with the single "Reason To Believe/Maggie May" saw the light of day. A DJ in Cleveland flipped the single and played "Maggie May" as the a-side....it eventually reached number one on both sides of the Atlantic! "Maggie nearly didn't make the album, because it had absolutely no hook line". What followed were hits after hits: (I Know) I'm Losing You, You Wear It Well, Stay With Me, Oh! No Not My Baby, Farewell, Sailing, I Don't Want To Talk About It. Rod Stewart and the Faces together reached superstar status. In 1975 Rod moved to Los Angeles as a tax-exile. Elton John was going to do the same thing but changed his mind later on. Gonna find myself a rock'n'roll band As already mentionned, the Faces split up in 1975. Rod Stewart had therefore to find his own band.

Eventually in late 1976 he formed his new band called "The Rod Stewart Group". Jim Cregan, Gary Grainger, Billy Peek (all guitars), Phil Chen (bass), Carmine Appice (drums) and John Jarvis (piano) were the first line-up to go on tour with Rod. The line-up of the Rod Stewart Group changed several times but not as much as one could expect. Rod never treated these guys as a "backing group" --they were looked after and he was very close to them anyway. He certainly enjoyed (and still does) to have a night out with the lads. The post-Faces 70s career bursted the following chart-toppers: Tonight's The Night, First Cut Is The Deepest, Killing Of Georgie, Hot Legs, I Was Only Joking, You're In My Heart, Ole Ola, Da' Ya' Think I'm Sexy and Ain't Love A Bitch. Rod didn't make only three more albums (A Night On The Town, Foot Loose & Fancy Free, Blondes Have More Fun) until 1979 but he was also always on tour. In 1976 he toured Europe, 1977 saw his first post-Faces US-Tour, 1978 and 1979 were considered as the "Blondes Have More Fun"-World Tour. Rod was as busy as ever. 1980 saw the release of the first Stewart self-penned album "Foolish Behaviour". This year's single was "Passion". 'Tonight I'm Yours' (81), 'Body Wishes' (83) and 'Camouflage' (84) delivered all chart-toppers although many rock-critics didn't like those albums at all. They claimed Rod had lost interest in music. Some of the critics were true, some certainly not. Camouflage is today considered as Rod's weakest effort. Things got better with 'Every Beat Of My Heart' (86) but 1988's 'Out Of Order' put Rod back into the rock'n'roll business where he originally came from. All the synthesizers were gone. The 90's kicked off with a boxset called 'Storyteller' and a duet with Tina Turner. 'Vagabond Heart' (91) gained him a lot of new fans, especially in Europe. What followed was a "half-compilation"-album 'Lead Vocalist' (that offended even many Stewart die-hards like my goodself) and the superb 'Unplugged...and Seated' (93). 'A Spanner In The Works' (95) and 'When We Were The New Boys (98) were excellent albums. Rod Stewart isn't only one of the best entertainer the music's scene's ever produced he is also an excellent songwriter. Sadly, many people and especially rock critics seem to forget this. Songs like 'Only A Boy', 'Mandolin Wind', and even 'When We Were The New Boys' could only come from Rod's pen.

Rod Stewart has a wonderful sense of humor and he is an excellent storyteller. For those who don't believe this check the visual discography and click all the songs written bold. You'll be surprised to find many very amusing tales! The following years Rod played in the Steampacket (for details see visual discography) a group consisting of Rod, Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger, Rick Brown, Micky Waller, Long John Baldry and Vic Biggs. The made their début supporting the Rolling Stones in Exeter. The Steampacket were doing sort of a live white soul revue and were touring the UK. In March 1966 Rod left the Steampacket to join The Shotgun Express a very short-lived formation with Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green. In 1967 Rod joined the Jeff Beck Group. The line-up featured Rod on vocals, Beck on guitar, Ron Wood on bass and after using more than six different drummers, Micky Waller took over in december 1967. The band toured the UK, Europe and America. The US Tour was very important toRod Stewart. He was better known in the U.S than at home in those days. The Jeff Beck Group made two excellent albums called Truth and Beck Ola. However, in 1969 Jeff Beck sacked Ronnie Wood and Micky Waller, claiming that their playing was deteriorated. It came as a shock to Rod.The same year saw also the release of the first Faces LP called "First Step". The name Small Faces was no longer in existence. It was agreed to keep the name just as the Faces. Hardly no one at this time was aware that this bunch of nice chaps would remain as Britains best live band ever. The Faces created with Rod's strong stage presentation a very special atmosphere. Of course some bands in the late 80s and even in the 90s copied them but didn't get as close as they probably would've hoped.....be that as it may, they would never admit it....

As already mentionned, the Faces split up in 1975. Rod Stewart had therefore to find his own band. Eventually in late 1976 he formed his new band called "The Rod Stewart Group". Jim Cregan, Gary Grainger, Billy Peek (all guitars), Phil Chen (bass), Carmine Appice (drums) and John Jarvis (piano) were the first line-up to go on tour with Rod. The line-up of the Rod Stewart Group changed several times but not as much as one could expect. Rod never treated these guys as a "backing group" --they were looked after and he was very close to them anyway. He certainly enjoyed (and still does) to have a night out with the lads. The post-Faces 70s career bursted the following chart-toppers: Tonight's The Night, First Cut Is The Deepest, Killing Of Georgie, Hot Legs, I Was Only Joking, You're In My Heart, Ole Ola, Da' Ya' Think I'm Sexy and Ain't Love A Bitch. Rod didn't make only three more albums (A Night On The Town, Foot Loose & Fancy Free, Blondes Have More Fun) until 1979 but he was also always on tour. In 1976 he toured Europe, 1977 saw his first post-Faces US-Tour, 1978 and 1979 were considered as the "Blondes Have More Fun"-World Tour. Rod was as busy as ever. 1980 saw the release of the first Stewart self-penned album "Foolish Behaviour". This year's single was "Passion". 'Tonight I'm Yours' (81), 'Body Wishes' (83) and 'Camouflage' (84) delivered all chart-toppers although many rock-critics didn't like those albums at all. They claimed Rod had lost interest in music. Some of the critics were true, some certainly not. Camouflage is today considered as Rod's weakest effort. Things got better with 'Every Beat Of My Heart' (86) but 1988's 'Out Of Order' put Rod back into the rock'n'roll business where he originally came from. All the synthesizers were gone. The 90's kicked off with a boxset called 'Storyteller' and a duet with Tina Turner. 'Vagabond Heart' (91) gained him a lot of new fans, especially in Europe. What followed was a "half-compilation"-album 'Lead Vocalist' (that offended even many Stewart die-hards like my goodself) and the superb 'Unplugged...and Seated' (93). 'A Spanner In The Works' (95) and 'When We Were The New Boys (98) were excellent albums. Rod Stewart isn't only one of the best entertainer the music's scene's ever produced he is also an excellent songwriter. Sadly, many people and especially rock critics seem to forget this. Songs like 'Only A Boy', 'Mandolin Wind', and even 'When We Were The New Boys' could only come from Rod's pen. Rod Stewart has a wonderful sense of humor and he is an excellent storyteller. For those who don't believe this check the visual discography and click all the songs written bold. You'll be surprised to find many very amusing tales!

Well, of course we do concentrate on Rod's musical career and don't want to comment on his private life. The English papers' favourite theme we leave beside. Shown here in the "blondes-gallery" are the most important women in Rod's life: 1) Rod with Dee Harrington (girlfriend in the early 70s) 2) Actress Britt Ekland and Rod in 1976 (this romance lasted from '75-'77) 3) Rod tied the knot in 1979 when he married Alana. They have two children: daughter Kimberley and son Sean 4) Girlfriend Kelly Emberg pictured here with Rod in 1984. Never married but have one child - daughter Ruby 5) 1990 Rod married model Rachel Hunter. They have two children, daughter Renée and son Liam McAllister (named after a scottish football player). They separated in 1998.

Thanks must go to John Gray, President of the International Offical Rod Stewart Fan Club "SMILER". His book "The Visual Documentary" is a mine and was a great help to complete this short biography. For a full Stewart-Biography we recommend "The Biography" by Ray Coleman. Check the "bibliography" for more details.


 

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