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The Gravedigger who overcame his shyness and sold 100 million Albums

By Bob Tallent
May 2012

This Englishman was born in London near the end of the WW2 but prefers to be called a Scotsman.  He left school at 15 and worked as a silk screen printer.  He then tried his hand at professional football with Brentwood FC, worked in his fathers shop, worked as a grave digger (to overcome his fear of death), in a funeral parlour, as a fence erector and sign writer.  He lost a law suit against Jorge Ben for copying a song.  He slept under bridges in Paris when he was young and broke and was deported from Spain for vagrancy and lived in a houseboat which was later sunk by the police.  He was arrested three times when he took part in sit-ins.   As a youngster he was very shy and suffered from nerves.

Rod StewartRod StewartI’m talking about Rod Stewart.

Be prepared to look at 9 hours of music in 42 videos in this article

Nicknamed ‘Rod the Mod’ in 1964 by Long John Baldry because of his dandy style and dress, Roderick David Stewart was born in London on 10th January 1945 to Robert and Elsie Stewart.  Elsie was English and Robert was Scottish.  He was the youngest of five children and was spoilt as a child.  His brothers are Don and Bob; his sisters are Mary and Peggy.  He now has eight childrenof his own.  His children are Sarah Thubron Streeter (born 1964) born to art student Susannah Boffey; Kimberly Stewart (b. 21 August 1979) and Sean Stewart (b. 1 September 1980) born to Alana Stewart (ex-wife of actor George Hamilton); Ruby Stewart (b. 17 June 1987), born to Kelly Emberg; Renee Stewart (b. 1 June 1992), Liam McAlister Stewart (b. 4 September 1994), born to ex-wife Rachel Hunter, a model, Alistair Wallace Stewart (b. 27 November 2005) and Aiden Stewart (born 16 February, 2011), born to wife Penny Lancaster.  He said of his kids, “they've grown up privileged and it's an ongoing battle. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing”.

Rod took up the harmonica and guitar around 1962 and teamed up with jazz singer Wizz Jones while busking around London.  He then moved to Paris and next Barcelona.  He was deported from Spain.

1964 bright lights big city

Also in 1962 he joined the Ray Davies Quartet as a singer. They later changed their name to The Kinks.  He was sacked from The Kinks after only a few weeks because they didn’t like his voice.  It was around this time that he changed his appearance and became interested in R&B and Soul.  He joined The Dimensions in 1963.  They later changed their name to Jimmy Powell and the Dimensions.  He lasted only a few months with them

In January 1964 Rod was busking in London and was discovered by British blues pioneer Long John Baldry.  He was so impressed with Rod’s vocal ability that he invited him to join his band, The Hoochie Coochie Men.  LJB paid Rod £35 a week (which is around £400-600 in todays money). The band supported the Rolling Stones on tour.  Rod has often admitted in interviews that he owes his great success to that chance meeting with LJB.  It was around that time he began to overcome his shyness on stage.  He left The Hoochie Coochie Men in Oct 1964 after having a row with LJB.  Later in 1965, they became friends again.

He went on a solo career, played some solo gigs and signed with Decca Records in 1964. His first single with Decca was a failure.  In 1965 he brought out two more singles with Columbia EMI label and even though there was a 30 minute documentary aired on UK TV, ‘an Easter with Rod’, they also flopped.  He teamed up with The Soul Agents and was part of another group called Steampacket which supported The Rolling Stones and The Walker Brothers.

In March of 1966, he was either sacked from or quit Steampacket (nobody knows which).  In May of that year he joined Shotgun Express with Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac) and left later that year.  He spent a lot of time trying to “find himself” and bounced around from group to group without success.  In order to find his own style, he decided to start writing.

In February 1967 he joined with Jeff Beck and the Yardbirds. The Jeff Beck group and toured the UK and Europe.  He met Ronnie Wood and with the group released a few singles with Rod on the B-side without great success.  The group were running out of money when they were booked on a six week tour of America in June 1968.  Rods first night on stage in America was a disaster because his nerves got the better of him and he got stage fright.  Despite that the tour was a big success with the New York Times saying "the interaction of Mr. Beck's wild and visionary guitar against the hoarse and insistent shouting of Rod Stewart”.  They were receiving standing ovations and getting audiences as big as The Doors and Jimi Hendrix. They released an album ‘Truth’ in August 1968 which hit no. 15 in the US charts, toured again in the US and released another album that also hit no. 15 in USA and no. 39 in UK.  Rod had problems with the group and didn’t like the in-fighting.

In 1968-69 Rod signed with Mercury records and released his own solo album which was a mix of folk, rock, and country blues. He later joined up with Faces who released their first album in early 1970.  Rod also released his second solo album, Gasoline Alley, later in 1970.  He also sang guest vocals for Python Lee Jackson and got paid with a set of seat covers.

In 1971 he released his third solo album ‘Every Picture tells a Story’ with Maggie May on it.  Rod achieved the impossible - a feat that neither the Beatles nor Elvis Presley had ever attained.  Maggie May hit No. 1 in Britain and America at the same time as the album Every Picture Tells A Story hit No. 1.  Rod was at No.1 in the four most important charts in the world and it was the first time anyone had achieved such a feat.  Over the next eighteen months, back catalogue album titles solo, with the Faces and the Jeff Beck Group, started to pick up steady sales.

Also in 1971 the Faces released their second album which hit the top ten in US and UK.  They toured in 1972.  Tensions arose in the band over Rods solo career. Rod released another solo album which hit no. two in US and no. one in UK.  Rod was now on a roll.

Rod and the Faces were in a unique position at this time. Unlike other groups and individuals in the UK singles charts, (T Rex, Slade and other emerging bubblegum glam rockers) they were established in America and their albums treated seriously by the music papers. The album charts they were light years away from progressive acts like Genesis and Yes.  Despite this they were readily embraced by both. Few acts at this time could boast such an appeal. The year started with both Every Picture Tells A Story and A Nod's As Good As A Wink in the UK Top 10. During April the Faces appeared on BBC2's 'Sounds For Saturday' performing a classic set which had been recorded just prior to the massive success of Maggie May.

In 1975 Rod moved to the United States. The next year, he reached the top of the U.S. charts with "Tonight's the Night" from A Night on the Town.  He continued to have a slicker more pop sound as the decade progressed. He also developed a reputation for his partying lifestyle and for dating numerous actresses and models. With 1978's Blondes Have More Fun, he had another smash hit single with "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

Through the rest of the 1970’s he continued to tour. He met with Britt Ekland and allowed her to dictate his sense of dress and for a while appeared in faintly ludicrous dungarees made out of silk and ridiculous jump suits. At the same time he became the favourite of the magazines and gutter press, a reputation he maintained through his succession of affairs with numerous women.

Throughout the second half of the 1970’s his albums were hit and miss affairs.  They were very successful, selling millions and in many cases topping the charts world-wide. The high-spots during this glitzy phase which saw him readily embrace the prevalent disco era – such as The Bee Gees in last weeks article - were 'The Killing Of Georgie', Cat Stevens' 'First Cut Is The Deepest', 'Tonight's The Night' and 'You're In My Heart'.

With 1981's Tonight I'm Yours, Rod began adding elements of new wave and synth pop to his formula resulting in another platinum album. His career then hit a slump. His next four albums sounded forced and he only scored three Top Ten hits between 1982 and 1988.  Out of those four albums, only 1983's Camouflage went gold. He rebounded with 1988's Out of Order, recorded with Duran Duran's Andy Taylor and Chic's Bernard Edwards. His version of Tom Waits' "Downtown Train," taken from the 1989 four-disc box set Storyteller, became his biggest hit since "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" Vagabond Heart (1991) reflected a more mature and reflective Rod Stewart and continued his comeback streak.

Rod reunited with Ronnie Wood to record an MTV Unplugged concert in 1993; the accompanying album, Unplugged...and Seated, launched the Top Ten hit single "Have I Told You Lately." Unplugged also brought Rod back to a more acoustic-based sound. On his 1995 album A Spanner in the Works, he developed a more polished version of this sound scoring another hit with Tom Petty's "Leave Virginia Alone." The following year, he released If We Fall in Love Tonight, which was comprised of both previously released and new material. When We Were the New Boys, a return to his roots in trad rock, followed in 1998.

As we entered the new century Rod underwent successful surgery for thyroid cancer in July 2000, and announced he was completely recovered in January 2001.  He then moved onto a new path with Human, an album that attempted to cross over to contemporary and urban audiences, but failed with the critical and commercial public.  He then brought out The Great American Songbook which became an adult contemporary favourite and lodged near the top of the album charts after its release in 2002.

In March 2005, he proposed to girlfriend Penny Lancaster at the top of the Eiffel Tower. They got married on board his yacht "Lady Anne MaGee" in the Portofino Harbour, Italy after his divorce from Rachel Hunter was finalised.

In 2009 the Sunday Times List estimated his net worth at $164 million and he sold over 100 million albums.

Rod Stewart, one of the biggest 'superstars' of the century, has turned 67 without his audience diminishing in any way. His credibility as high as it had ever been.

This is specially for MOD

I’ll leave with a final quote from the man himself:

I don't mind buying one round of drinks, but I am bloody well not going to buy another. I don't miss a penny. I get a daily statement about where every penny is going and every investment. I wouldn't say I worry about money, but you never know what's around the corner. I worry more about my children's views on money sometimes. They've grown up privileged and it's an ongoing battle. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Copyright © 2012, DPNLIVE – All Rights Reserved

Now hit the NEXT button below to see 30 more VIDEOS

one night only Concert

live in rio – sambodromo 1989 Concert

velez stadium argentina 2011 Concert

rock in rio 1985

heart & soul tour rogers arena 2011 Concert

Rod Stewart & the Face 1972 concert

Colour me Pop - Small Faces 1968

they cant take that away from me with michael buble

forever young

baby its cold outside with dolly parton

that old feeling

ive got you under my skin

they cant take away from me 2004

Songs from Great American Songbook at Royal Albert Hall

Fly me to the moon and interview

i've got my love to keep me warm

don ya think im sexy


first cut is the deepest

rhythm of my heart

Studio albums

Year Album

1969 An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down
1970 Gasoline Alley
1971 Every Picture Tells A Story
1972 Never a Dull Moment
1974 Smiler
1975 Atlantic Crossing
1976 A Night On The Town
1977 Foot Loose & Fancy Free
1978 Blondes Have More Fun
1980 Foolish Behaviour
1981 Tonight I'm Yours
1983 Body Wishes
1984 Camouflage
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
2001 Human
2002 It Had to Be You: The Great American Songbook
2003 As Time Goes By: The Great American Songbook 2
2004 Stardust: The Great American Songbook 3
2005 Thanks for the Memory: The Great American Songbook, Volume IV
2006 Still the Same... Great Rock Classics of Our Time
2009 Soulbook
2010 Once in a Blue Moon: The Lost Album
2010 Fly Me to the Moon... The Great American Songbook Volume V

Live albums

Year Album
January, 1974 Coast to Coast: Overture and Beginners
Credited to Rod Stewart/Faces
October, 1982 Absolutely Live
May, 1993 Unplugged...and Seated

Compilation albums

Year Album
June, 1973 Sing It Again Rod
April, 1976 The Best of Rod Stewart
November, 1976 The Best of Rod Stewart Vol. 2
October, 1979 Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
November, 1989 The Best of Rod Stewart
November, 1989 Storyteller - The Complete Anthology: 1964-1990
March, 1990 Downtown Train - Selections from the Storyteller Anthology
September, 1992 The Mercury Years 1969-1974
March, 1993 Lead Vocalist
November, 1996 If We Fall In Love Tonight
November, 2001 The Story So Far - The Very Best Of Rod Stewart
August, 2003 Encore: The Very Best Of - Vol. 2
October, 2003 Changing Faces - The Very Best Of Rod Stewart & The Faces:
The Definitive Collection 1969-1974
Credited to Rod Stewart & The Faces
September, 2005 Gold
February, 2006 The Very Best Of Rod Stewart
June, 2007 The Seventies Collection
July, 2007 The Complete American Songbook - Volumes I,II,III & IV
November, 2008 Some Guys Have All The Luck /
The Definitive Rod Stewart
September, 2009 The Rod Stewart Sessions 1971-1998
February, 2011 The Best Of... The Great American Songbook



Early in Rod Stewart's career, four singles were released by him as a solo artist, none of which charted:

"Good Morning Little Schoolgirl"/"I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town" (October 1964, UK Decca F-11944/US Press 9722)
"The Day Will Come"/"Why Does It Go On" (November 1965, UK Columbia DB-7764/US: no issue)
"Shake"/"I Just Got Some" (April 1966, UK Columbia DB-7892/US: no issue)
"Little Miss Understood"/"So Much To Say" (March 1968, UK Immediate IM-060/US: no issue)

Year Single

1969 "Street Fighting Man"
1970 "It's All Over Now"
1971 "Reason to Believe"

"Maggie May" / "Reason to Believe"

"(I Know) I'm Losing You"

"Dirty Old Town"
1972 "Handbags and Gladrags"

"You Wear It Well"

"In a Broken Dream"(with Python Lee Jackson)


"What Made Milwaukee Famous

(Has Made a Loser Out of Me)" 3
1973 "I've Been Drinking"

(with the Jeff Beck Group)

"Twistin' the Night Away"

"Oh! No Not My Baby"
1974 "Farewell" / "Bring It On Home to Me" / "You Send Me"

"Mine for Me"

"You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything"

(with Faces)4
1975 "Sailing" 5

"This Old Heart of Mine"
1976 "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)"

"The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II)"

"Get Back"

"Maggie May" (1976 release)
1977 "I Don't Want to Talk About It"

"The First Cut Is the Deepest"

"You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)"

"You're Insane"
1978 "Hot Legs"

"I Was Only Joking"

"Ole Ola (Mulher Brasileira)"

(feat. The Scottish World Cup Football Squad '78)

"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"
1979 "Ain't Love a Bitch"

"Blondes (Have More Fun)"


Year Single

1980 "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right"


"My Girl"
1981 "Somebody Special"

"Gi' Me Wings"

"Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight"

"Tonight I'm Yours (Don't Hurt Me)"

"Young Turks"
1982 "How Long?"


"Just Like A Woman"

"Tora, Tora, Tora (Out with the Boys)"

"The Great Pretender" (live)

"Guess I'll Always Love You" (live)

"I Don't Want to Talk About It"

1983 "Baby Jane"

"What Am I Gonna Do (I'm So in Love with You)"

"Body Whishes"

"That's What Friends Are For"
1984 "Infatuation"

"Some Guys Have All the Luck"

"All Right Now"

1985 "People Get Ready"

(with Jeff Beck)
1986 "Love Touch"

"Every Beat of My Heart"

"Another Heartache"

"A Night Like This"
1987 "In My Life"

"Twistin' the Night Away" (1987 version)
1988 "Lost in You"

"Forever Young"

"My Heart Can't Tell You No"
1989 "Crazy About Her"


"This Old Heart of Mine"

(with Ronald Isley)

"Downtown Train"


Year Single

1990 "I Don't Want to Talk About It"


"It Takes Two"

(with Tina Turner)
1991 "Rhythm of My Heart"

"The Motown Song"

"Broken Arrow"

"Rebel Heart"

"You Are Everything"

"My Town"

(Glass Tiger feat. Rod Stewart)
1992 "People Get Ready"

(with Jeff Beck) (1992 version)

"Your Song"

"Broken Arrow"

"Tom Traubert's Blues (Waltzing Mathilda)"
1993 "Ruby Tuesday"

"Shotgun Wedding"

"Have I Told You Lately" (live)

"Reason to Believe" (live)

"People Get Ready" (live)

"Cut Across Shorty" (live)

"All for Love"

(with Bryan Adams and Sting)

"Having A Party" (live)
1995 "You're the Star"

"Leave Virginia Alone"

"Lady Luck"

1996 "So Far Away"

"Purple Heather"

(with The Scottish Euro '96 Squad)

"If We Fall in Love Tonight"
1997 "When I Need You"

"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

(N-Trance feat. Rod Stewart)
1998 "Ooh La La"

"Cigarettes and Alcohol"


"When We Were the New Boys"

1999 "Faith of the Heart"


Year Single

2000 "Run Back Into Your Arms"
2001 "I Can't Deny It"

"Don't Come Around Here"

(with Helicopter Girl)
2002 "These Foolish Things"
2003 "They Can't Take That Away from Me"

"Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered"

(with Cher)


"I Only Have Eyes for You" (with Ana Belén)
2004 "Time After Time"

"What a Wonderful World"

(feat. Stevie Wonder)

"Baby, It's Cold Outside"

(with Dolly Parton)

"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"(Remixes)
2005 "Blue Moon"

(feat. Eric Clapton)

"I've Got a Crush on You"

(with Diana Ross)

"I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm"
2006 "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?"
2007 "Fooled Around and Fell in Love"

"It's a Heartache"
2010 "My Cherie Amour"

(feat. Stevie Wonder)

"I've Got You Under My Skin"

"Beyond the Sea"

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