Personalities | Rod Stewart | Seventies | Rock

One of the UK’s finest rock vocalists, Roderick David Stewart was born on 10 January 1945 to Scottish parents. He went to the same school as Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks and briefly trained as an apprentice footballer before busking around Europe.

Many Faces

Back in London he started singing with The Hoochie Coochie Men in 1964 alongside Long John Baldry and followed him into Steampacket before joining the short-lived Shotgun Express. He also released a couple of unsuccessful singles.

In 1967 Stewart joined The Jeff Beck Group with bassist Ron Wood where he developed his rasping vocal style on two seminal albums: Truth (1968) and Beck-Ola (1969). He also signed a solo deal and released An Old Raincoat Will Never Let You Down (1969), a mixture of folk, soul and drinking songs.

When Beck disbanded his group in 1969 Stewart and Wood formed The Faces with former Small Faces Ian McLagan, Ronnie Lane and Kenney Jones. But he maintained his solo career and although the first two Faces albums – First Step (1970) and Long Player (1971) – were more successful than his own Gasoline Alley (1970), everything changed with the self-produced and largely self-written Every Picture Tells A Story (1971) and single, ‘Maggie May’. For a week in October 1971 Stewart held the UK No. 1 single and album in the UK and US. Two months later The Faces’ A Nod’s As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse (1971) got to No. 2 in the UK and No. 6 in the US. From then on the relationship between Stewart and The Faces was uneasy. Stewart’s Never A Dull Moment (1972) and Smiler (1974) were major UK and US successes while The Faces’ Ooh La La (1972) and the live Coast To Coast (Overture And Beginners) (1974) were decreasingly popular in the US.

On The Town

Stewart finally made the break, moved to Los Angeles and released Atlantic Crossing (1975), recorded at Muscle Shoals with most of Booker T. And The M.G.s and veteran producer Tom Dowd. The album was another Top 10 in the US, while in the UK it was No. 1 for five weeks along with a four-week No. 1 single, the soaring ballad ‘Sailing’.

A Night On The Town (1976) confirmed Stewart’s ascension to the rock-star elite, becoming his sixth successive UK No. 1 and spending five weeks at No. 2 in the US. In addition, the lubricious ‘Tonight’s The Night’ topped the US charts for eight weeks. He also confirmed his celebrity status with a high-profile romance and split with actress Britt Ekland. She was the first in a line of blonde wives and girlfriends. Foot Loose And Fancy Free (1977) featured the hit singles ‘Hot Legs’ and ‘You’re In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)’. Those who accused Stewart of unconscious self-parody felt vindicated by Blondes Have More Fun (1978), particularly by the butt-waggling disco single ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’. That didn’t stop it becoming a No. 1 hit...

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley


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