Friday, January 10, 2014

January 10: Rod Stewart - "Maggie May, " "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" "Tonight's the Night" - is 68-years-old today.

Roderick David "Rod" Stewart, CBE, was born and raised in North London. With his raspy singing voice, Stewart came to the forefront on the music scene 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 (in the U.S., The Rod Stewart Album).

With his career in its fifth decade, Stewart has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best selling artists of all time.

In the UK, he has had six consecutive number one albums, and his tally of 62 hit singles include 31 that reached the top 10, six of which hit number one. He has had 16 top ten singles in the U.S, with four of these reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked him the 17th most successful artist on the "The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists." He was voted at #33 in Q Magazine's list of the top 100 Greatest Singers of all time.

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Growing up Stewart's main hobby was railway modelling, and his family were big football (soccer) fans. Rod was a strong supporter of Arsenal F.C. Combining natural athleticism with near-reckless aggression, he became captain of the school football team and played for Middlesex Schoolboys as centre-half.

The family were also great fans of the singer Al Jolson and would sing and play his hits. Stewart collected his records and saw his films, read books about him, and was influenced by his performing style. His introduction to rock and roll was Little Richard's 1956 hit "The Girl Can't Help It" and seeing Bill Haley & His Comets in concert.

His father bought him a guitar in January 1959, and the first song he learned was the folk tune "It Takes a Worried Man to Sing a Worried Song" and the first record he bought was Eddie Cochran's "C'mon Everybody." In 1960, he joined a skiffle group with schoolfriends called the Kool Kats, playing Lonnie Donegan and Chas McDevitt hits.

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 but he quickly realized it was not to be and that music would probably be easier.

Stewart began playing the harmonica. On several trips over 18 months Stewart performed in Brighton and then Paris, sleeping under bridges over the River Seine, and then finally to Barcelona. Eventually, Stewart was rounded up and deported from Spain for vagrancy.

In the spring of 1962, Stewart joined The Ray Davies Quartet, later known as the The Kinks, as their lead singer. He had known three of their members at William Grimshaw School and at the time.  He performed with the group on at least one occasion, but was soon dropped due to complaints about his voice from then-drummer John Start's mother as well as musical and personality differences with the rest of the band.

Stewart then briefly fronted his own group, Rod Stewart & The Moontrekkers, who competed with Davies' band.

In 1963, Stewart adopted the Mod lifestyle and look, and began fashioning the spiky rooster hairstyle that would become his trademark. Disillusioned by rock and roll, he saw Otis Redding perform in concert and began listening to Sam Cooke records; he became fascinated by rhythm and blues and soul music.

He bounced between different groups after that until he made some demo recordings, was scouted by Decca Records at the Marquee Club and signed to a solo contract in August 1964. He appeared on several regional television shows around the country and recorded his first single in September 1964 "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," which flopped.

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 close friends.

In October 1969 Stewart and Wood formed Faces and Stewart also pursued a solo career. An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down became Stewart's first solo album in 1969. It was a mixture of folk, rock, and country blues, 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.")

Faces released their debut album First Step in early 1970 with a rock and roll style similar to the Rolling Stones. While the album did better in the U.K. than in the U.S., the Faces quickly earned a strong live following. Stewart released his second album, Gasoline Alley that autumn a mandolin introduced into the sound.

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," started receiving radio play. The album and the single hit number one in both the U.S. and the 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.

Rod was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and the U.K. Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

In May 2000, Stewart was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, for which he underwent surgery in the same month. Besides being a major health scare, the resulting surgery also threatened his famous voice, and he had to re-learn how to sing. Since then he has been active in raising funds for The City of Hope Foundation charity to find cures for all forms of cancer, especially those affecting children.


For more about Rod, visit his Website at -


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