First time I saw Rod was on Sounds with Donny Sutherland, the song, Sailing, then I found out he was a soccer fan and that was me hooked
With his distinctive raspy singing voice, Stewart came to prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s 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 (US: The Rod Stewart Album), and his early albums were a fusion of rock, folk music, soul music and R&B. His aggressive blues work with The Jeff Beck Group and Faces influenced heavy metal genres. From the late 1970s through the 1990s, Stewart's music often took on a New Wave or soft rock/MOR quality, and in the early 2000s he released a series of successful albums interpreting the Great American Songbook. Stewart's albums and singles sales total has been estimated by various sources to be between 100 million and 200 million copies.
Stewart left school at age 15 and worked briefly as a silk screen printer. Spurred on by his father, his ambition was to become a professional footballer. In summer 1960, he went for trials at Brentford F.C., a Third Division club at the time. However, contrary to longstanding popular belief, Stewart states in his 2012 autobiography that he was never signed to the club and that the club never called him back after his trials. In any case, regarding possible career options, Stewart concluded, "Well, a musician's life is a lot easier and I can also get drunk and make music, and I can't do that and play football. I plumped for music ... They're the only two things I can do actually: play football and sing."
On or around 5 January 1964, Stewart was drunk and waiting on the Twickenham railway station platform, playing "Smokestack Lightnin'" on his harmonica after having seen a rhythm and blues show by Cyril Davies and the All Stars at Eel Pie Island All Stars singer Long John Baldry discovered him and invited him to sit in with the group (which passed into his hands and was renamed the Hoochie Coochie Men when Davies died of leukaemia on 7 January); when Baldry discovered Stewart was a singer as well, he offered him a job for £35 a week, after securing the approval of Stewart's mother. Quitting his day job at age nineteen, Stewart gradually overcame his shyness and nerves and became a visible enough part of the act that he was sometimes added to the billing as "Rod the Mod" Stewart the nickname coming from his style of grooming and dress. Baldry touted Stewart's abilities to Melody Maker magazine and the group enjoyed a weekly residence at London's fabled Marquee Club. In June 1964, Stewart made his recording début (without label credit) on "Up Above My Head", the B-side to a Baldry and Hoochie Coochie Men single.
Guitarist Jeff Beck recruited Stewart for his new post-Yardbirds venture, and in February 1967, Stewart joined the Jeff Beck Group as vocalist and sometime songwriter. This would become the big break of his early career. There he first played with Ronnie Wood whom he had first met in a London pub in 1964; the two soon became fast friends. During its first year, the group experienced frequent changes of drummers and conflicts involving manager Mickie Most wanting to reduce Stewart's role; they toured the UK, and released a couple of singles that featured Stewart on their B-sides. Stewart's sputtering solo career also continued, with the March 1968 release of non-hit "Little Miss Understood" on Immediate Records.
Mercury Records A&R man Lou Reizner had seen Stewart perform with Beck, and in October 1968 signed him to a solo contract but contractual complexities delayed Stewart's recording for him until July 1969. Meanwhile, in May 1969, guitarist and singer Steve Marriott left English band The Small Faces. Ron Wood was announced as the replacement guitarist in June and in October 1969 Stewart followed his friend and was announced as their new singer. The two joined existing members Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan, and Kenney Jones, who soon decided to call the new line-up Faces.
An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down became Stewart's 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").
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", (co-written with Martin Quittenton) 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, Pete Sears's piano, and Wood's guitar work in a largely acoustic arrangement; it is a fast, rocking, headlong romp relating the picaresque adventures of the singer.
In late 1974 Stewart released his Smiler album. 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. It was 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 (Faces were signed to Warners, and Stewart's solo releases in the UK appeared on the Riva label until 1981).....In 1975 Faces toured the US twice (with Ronnie Wood joining The Rolling Stones' US tour in between) before Stewart announced the Faces' break-up at the end of the year.
Foot Loose & Fancy Free featured Rod's own band, the original Rod Stewart Group that featured Carmine Appice, Phil Chen, Jim Cregan, Billy Peek, Gary Grainger and John Jarvis, 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 was crapped on 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 with his band at the Music for UNICEF Concert at the United Nations General Assembly in 1979..... By this time, Stewart was notorious for his jet-set lifestyle, particularly the series of actresses and models he dated.
Roderick moved slightly to a more New Wave (BOOO) direction in 1980 by releasing the album Foolish Behaviour. The album produced one hit single, "Passion", which proved particularly popular in South Africa (reaching no. 1 on the Springbok Top 20 Charts and Radio 5 Charts in early 1981). It also reached No. 5 on the US Billboard Charts. In August 1981, MTV was launched in the US with several of Stewart's videos in heavy rotation. Later 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 reached No. 20 in the U.S., while "Young Turks" reached the Top 5 with the album going platinum. On 18 December 1981, Stewart played the Los Angeles Forum, along with Kim Carnes and Tina Turner, 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 reviews from many critics. He was also criticised for breaking the widely observed cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa by performing at the Sun City resort complex in the bantustan of Bophuthatswana as part of his Body Wishes (1983) and Camouflage (1984) tours.
Stewart only had four US Top 10 singles between 1982 and 1988, "Young Turks" (No. 5, carrying over from 1981 into 1982), "Some Guys Have All the Luck" (No. 10, 1984), "Infatuation" (No. 6, 1984) and "Love Touch" (No. 6, 1986/ a Holly Knight/Mike Chapman collaboration), although "Baby Jane" became his sixth and final UK number one in 1983. It reached No. 14 in the US. The corresponding Camouflage album went gold in the UK, and the single "Infatuation" (which featured his old friend Jeff Beck on the guitar) received considerable play on MTV. The second single "Some Guys Have All The Luck" reached No. 15 in the UK and No. 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 in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro before an estimated audience of over 100,000.
Then one night in late 93, I was watching tele and MTV UNplugged came on and lo and behold Rockin Rod had reunited with Ron Wood to record an MTV Unplugged concert ; the accompanying album, Unplugged...and Seated, launched the Top Ten hit single "Have I Told You Lately." This ended up being probably my favourite Rod album...its got a groove about it for sure.
In 2001, Stewart embarked on a new path with Human, an album that attempted to cross over to contemporary and urban audiences, but it failed with the critical and commercial public alike. His next project may have sounded equally unlikely, but it was much more successful. It Had to Be You, the first in his series crooning the Great American Songbook, became an adult contemporary favorite and lodged near the top of the album charts after its release in 2002. As Time Goes By followed it into the charts in 2003 and missed the top spot by only one notch. In late 2004, his third volume in the series (Stardust) hit number one. Thanks for the Memory became the fourth entry in the series in 2005. By the year's end, all four volumes were collected in The Great American Songbook Box Set.
In 2006, he continued his series of cover albums, but this time he focused on the rock & roll era. Still the Same: Great Rock Classics of Our Time appeared toward the end of the year, with a version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" as its lead single. Stewart next tackled soul and Motown classics with 2009's Soulbook but returned to standards for 2010's fifth installment of his Great American Songbook series, Fly Me to the Moon. Stewart continued to flirt with the idea of a Faces reunion throughout this period, but even when the group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in the spring of 2012, he stayed on the sidelines. Instead, Stewart prepped his first album for Verve: the seasonal set Merry Christmas, Baby, which appeared in October of 2012, the same month he published his memoir Rod: The Autobiography.
Time Authoring his memoir inspired Stewart to return to songwriting, a discipline he left behind in the '90s. His next album, Time -- his first for Capitol Records -- was comprised almost entirely of songs he had co-written and they all had a distinctly autobiographical bent. Time was released in May of 2013.
During his career, Rod Stewart has been a member of a number of groups including:
Jimmy Powell and the Five Dimensions (1963)
The Hoochie Coochie Men (1964–1965)
The Steampacket (1965-1966)
Soul Agents (1965–1966)
Shotgun Express (1966)
The Jeff Beck Group (1966–1969)
1969 An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down
1970 Gasoline Alley
1971 Every Picture Tells a Story
1972 Never a Dull Moment
1980 Foolish Behaviour
1981 Tonight I'm Yours
1983 Body Wishes
1986 Every Beat of My Heart
1988 Out of Order
1991 Vagabond Heart
1995 A Spanner in the Works
1998 When We Were the New Boys
2002 It Had to Be You: The Great American Songbook
2003 As Time Goes By: The Great American Songbook
2004 Stardust: The Great American Songbook
2005 Thanks for the Memory: The Great American Songbook, Volume IV
2006 Still the Same... Great Rock Classics of Our Time
2010 Once in a Blue Moon: The Lost Album
Fly Me to the Moon... The Great American Songbook Volume V
2012 Merry Christmas, Baby