Rod Stewart Facts That Will Help You Answer His Number One Question
Rod Stewart knows that the songs that made him famous aren’t in line with his advocacy of the #MeToo movement. He also knows that he probably shouldn’t have forayed into disco with 1978’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” These revelations surface as the singer released his latest album, Blood Red Roses, in September 2018 at the age of 73. Stewart’s promising rock voice gave him a rocky start to his career, but he has since become an international success with a reputation among the ladies at the height of his career. With over 50 years in the business, there are still things that surprise us about Rod Stewart.
You won’t believe what painstaking hobby Stewart enjoys to blow off some “steam.”
Rod Stewart Was Introduced To Rock As A Boy
Rod Stewart was born on January 10, 1945, at his family’s then-home in World War II-era London. As a result of being the youngest of five siblings, Stewart was spoiled throughout his childhood which he has described on record as “fantastically happy.”
Stewart’s first encounter with rock and roll was hearing Little Richard’s "The Girl Can’t Help It." He was only ten when his brother took him to see Bill Haley and the Comets. "We had rock & roll riots in those days in England. We’d tear out chairs. After that show, the seed was sown," Stewart told Rolling Stone in 2003.
He Made Fake Puke To Get Out Of Music Class
As a boy, Rod Stewart wasn’t the greatest student. Ironically, one of the classes he always tried to get out of was music class. In his book Rod: The Autobiography, Stewart recounts the measures he took just to get dismissed from practicing his instruments.
He would create fake vomit combining leftover mashed potatoes and carrots from his lunch with water. Then he’d dump it in the school yard, acting as if he’d just yakked it up. "Hey presto, you’re off music for the afternoon and on your way home," Stewart mused in his book.
Rod Stewart’s Unknown Hobby Is Quite Steamy
Among Stewart’s boyhood interests were model trains, a passion that has followed him into his adult life. He has a 1:87 scale model of New York’s Grand Central Station that has 100 feet of track occupying the entire third floor of his Beverly Hills mansion.
In 2007, this very model made the cover of Model Railroader after Stewart wrote to the magazine’s publisher to lobby for a feature. "I’m proud to be a railway modeler. It means more to me to be on the cover of Model Railroader than to be on the cover of a music magazine," Stewart said.
Like most of us, Stewart had to take on odd jobs as a young adult, but one of them had him near death!
Rod Stewart Could Have Been A Footballer
Before becoming intertwined with music, Rod Stewart’s life revolved around football (or soccer, as it is known in America). Stewart’s older brothers, as well as his dad and grandfather, all played football.
At one point in his life, Stewart had the choice to become a professional when he tried out for Brentford Football Club. "I was there on trial. I’d go down there three or four times a week to play… But my heart wasn’t really in it. I’d just fallen in love with music, and I think I was just doing it to keep my dad happy," Stewart told Rolling Stone in 2004.
Rod Stewart Began Strumming As A Young Teen
Rod Stewart was 14 when his father gave him his first guitar. Stewart’s fingers became calloused for the first time as he was learning his first song, a popular folk ballad called “It Takes A Worried Man To Sing A Worried Song.”
It was during his early teens that Stewart worked in his father’s print shop in London. While minding the shop, Stewart would often put up the “closed” sign so he could go to the back and master all the songs on Bob Dylan’s first album on his guitar.
Stewart Once Dug Holes For A Living
Rod Stewart left school at age 15 and began taking on a number of odd jobs before becoming a singer-songwriter. For a while, Stewart worked frequently in death-related industries. Stewart’s past as a grave-digger at the Highgate Cemetery is perhaps the most notable job he’s had.
Grave-digging wasn’t the only thing that Stewart did for the deceased. He later worked at the North Finchley funeral parlor, where he put up fences on the property and painted signs. As an initiation, Stewart reportedly was forced to lay inside an occupied coffin with the lid closed, which apparently cured him of fearing death.
A few years after this, Stewart would have to give up something special that would only come back to him much later in life.
Rod Stewart Became A Vagabond Street Performer
Throughout the ’60s Rod Stewart was heavily influenced by beatnik culture and left-wing politics, participating in marches and sit-ins – although he would later claim that he only did it to meet and sleep with girls.
Through his association with this culture, Stewart met English folk singer Wizz Jones and began accompanying him on the harmonica. They busked throughout London before going to Brighton, Paris, then Barcelona. Throughout this time, Stewart and Jones lived as vagabonds and it was while they were in Barcelona that Stewart was deported back to the U.K. for vagrancy.
"Rod The Mod" Ditches Folk For R&B
Upon returning to London, Stewart cleaned up and adopted the mod lifestyle and look. This is when his infamous hair and eclectic style was born and he earned the nickname "Rod the Mod."
At the same time, Rod Stewart veered away from the British folk scene when he discovered American soul and R&B music, particularly Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. "[Sam Cooke is] probably my No. 1 influence. I first heard ‘Chain Gang’ on a little transistor radio when I was about 16. The guy has stayed with me ever since," Stewart told People in 2009.
His First-Born Was Given Up For Adoption
In his late teens, Rod Stewart and his then girlfriend, Susannah Boffey, became pregnant. As teens, they were in no position to raise a child, so the baby went up for adoption in 1964. Sarah Streeter didn’t find out Rod Stewart was her biological father until she was 18 years old.
Media outlets report that at first, Stewart’s stardom caused a strain on their newfound relationship. It wasn’t until Streeter’s adoptive parents passed away that Stewart reached out to his first born to try an build a real relationship. Since then, Streeter has become close to her father and her half-siblings.
Would you believe Rod Stewart had stage fright? He did, and you won’t believe what it caused him to do at his first U.S. show in 1968!
He Had Stage Fright Despite His Big Break
In 1964, Stewart was at a train station playing the harmonica and singing "Smokestack Lightning." He was noticed by English blues singer Long John Baldry, who at the time was with the R&B All Stars which would later become the Hoochie Coochie Men after leader Cyril Davies passed away.
Baldry brought Stewart into the band for £35 a week. Stewart was 19 when he quit his job to front the Hoochie Coochie Men but he was incredibly shy at the time. Still, the band saw Stewart’s flamboyant style as an asset to the band. He made his recording debut on “Up Above My Head.”
Stewart’s Debut Did Not Take Off But He Joined A Band
After nine months with the Hoochie Coochie Men, Stewart quit the band and recorded his debut single, "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl." He performed the song on the British television show Ready Set Go! but the song failed to chart.
Eventually, Stewart met impresario Giorgio Gomelsky, who reunited the singer with Baldry and brought on Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll, Micky Waller, Vic Briggs, and Ricky Renson to form Steampacket. The British blues outfit got their start as openers for the Rolling Stones and The Walker Brothers in the summer of 1965. Steampacket never recorded in the studio due to all its members having different labels and managers.
Rod Stewart Debuted In The U.S. Hiding Behind The Amps
Stewart eventually joined the Jeff Beck Group as a vocalist and part-time songwriter in 1967. Stewart recorded two albums with the Jeff Beck Group, 1968’s Truth and 1969’s Beck-Ola. It was through this band that Stewart met guitarist Ronnie Wood.
The Jeff Beck Group embarked on a U.S. tour in June 1968 and it was Stewart’s first time to America. By then, he hadn’t completely gotten over his stage fright and reportedly sang behind a set of amplifiers during an opening show. Regardless, the band was a hit with stateside audiences and The New York Times loved the sound of “the hoarse and insistent shouting of Rod Stewart.”
Stewart would get over his shyness eventually and that would launch him into something he couldn’t have expected when he initially joined the Jeff Beck Group.
Stewart Joined Faces And Released His Solo Debut In 1969
In 1969, Rod Stewart followed friend Ron Wood to join The Small Faces when their front man Steve Marriott left the band. Stewart and Wood joined Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan, and Kenney Jones, and the new line-up prompted the band’s name to change to Faces.
At the same time, Stewart released his first solo album, An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down (known in the U.S. as The Rod Stewart Album). Stewart established his solo sound on both original material like “Cindy’s Lament” and the album’s title song, and also on covers such as “Handbags and Gladrags” originally by Mike d’Abo.
Stewart’s Career Takes Off With “Maggie May”
1970 to 1971 was a whirlwind in Stewart’s career. Within that time, Faces released their debut album, First Step, while Stewart also dropped his second album Gasoline Alley, in which he began incorporating the mandolin to his sound. He subsequently released 1971’s Every Picture Tells a Story, which contains his first No. 1 hit, “Maggie May.”
“Maggie May” was somewhat autobiographical, about a boy who has mixed feelings about his involvement with an older woman. Stewart has said it was written about the first woman he got intimate with at a jazz festival in 1961.
Stewart’s Solo Star Power Overshadowed Faces’ Success
Stewart’s increasing success throughout the rest of the ’70s was owed to his fourth solo album, Never a Dull Moment, which contained hits such as “You Wear It Well” and “Twisting the Night Away.”
Meanwhile, tensions rose within Faces as Stewart’s solo success overshadowed the band. They released 1971’s Long Prayer and A Nod is as Good as a Wink… To a Blind Horse and 1973’s Ooh La La, all of which received only lukewarm reception. Faces broke up in 1974, the same year Stewart released his fifth solo album, Smiler, and moved to Warner Bros. Records.
Stewart became a hit in the ’70s, but it wasn’t long before he would give it all up as you’ll soon see.
“The Killing Of Georgie” Was Ahead Of Its Time
Rod Stewart moved to Los Angeles in 1975, when he released Atlantic Crossing. The following year he followed up with A Night on the Town which contained “Tonight’s the Night” and “The Killing Of Georgie.”
While “Tonight’s the Night” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for eight consecutive weeks, “The Killing of Georgie” was revolutionary for addressing sensitive topics. Written about Stewart’s gay friend who was murdered, Stewart once said, “I think it was a brave step, but it wasn’t a risk. You can’t write a song like that unless you’ve experienced it. But it was a subject that no one had approached before.”
Rod Stewart Started Caring More About Image
Stewart’s 1978 album Blondes Have More Fun marks a certain stall in his career. Its lead single, “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” was a number one hit in the U.K. and the U.S., primarily for its disco sound that was popular at the time. However, many of Stewart’s fans were disappointed believing that the singer was wasting his vocal talents.
At the same time, Stewart’s reputation as a Hollywood lothario had overshadowed his career. “I deserved a lot of the knocking that I got… I went through a period when I lost all contact with rock & roll. I was completely wound up in self-image,” Stewart told Rolling Stone retrospectively in 1982.
He Briefly Gave Up Songwriting To Sing Classics
Throughout the ’80s, much of Rod Stewart’s work was met with lukewarm responses and took a hiatus from songwriting in the ’90s. “I don’t enjoy songwriting. I’m not a natural songwriter… I was writing songs up until the early ’90s and not getting a great deal of response… from sales or radio,” Stewart told BBC News in 2006.
This is likely why in 2002, Stewart embarked on singing hits of the ’30s and ’40s from the Great American Songbook, as opposed to creating new material. He released four albums for his songbook series, throughout which time he had considerable success.
Stewart Acknowledges How Bad His Songs Were
In light of the #MeToo movement, Rod Stewart has admitted that his past hits were inappropriate. “I couldn’t write a song like ‘Tonight’s the Night’ now even if I wanted to. But you know, ‘Hot Legs’ is even worse – everything was different then,” Stewart told Celebretainment in 2018.
His 2018 album Blood Red Roses has a song called “Look in Her Eyes” which Stewart says is a message to men to be respectful of women. For his part, Stewart has been an advocate of the movement since it started but has said he’s personally never witnessed inappropriate behavior during his career.
Rod Stewart Has Eight Kids
Rod Stewart was known to have gotten around during the height of his career. That’s why it’s no surprise to many that the singer has fathered eight children by five different women. The first, was Sarah Streeter who was put up for adoption when he was a teen. Then there’s daughter Kimberly and son Sean, who were born to model Alana Stewart in 1979 and 1980 respectively.
In 1987, Stewart had daughter Ruby with model Kelly Emberg. During his second marriage to Rachel Hunter, Stewart had Renée and Liam, born in 1992 and 1994 respectively. His youngest are sons Alastair and Aiden, born to current wife Penny Lancaster in 2005 and 2011 respectively.