Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
Maggie May, Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?, Sailing
Currently Known For:
Singer, Songwriter, Musician, and Record Producer
January 10, 1945
Maggie May, Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?, Sailing
“If you want my body and you think I’m sexy, come on sugar, tell me so. If you really need me, just reach out and touch me. Come on, honey, tell me so.” A world-famous rock ‘n roll singer whose records have generated over 100 million sales around the globe, Rod Stewart is instantly recognizable by his signature swagger and distinctive raspy voice. First taking the music world by storm in the late 1960s and the early 1970s with The Jeff Beck Group and then with Faces, Stewart has built an impressive career as one of the best-selling music artists of all time thanks to albums like Every Picture Tells a Story, Never a Dull Moment, A Night on the Town, Stardust: The Great American Songbook series, and dozens of others. Along the way, he’s earned numerous awards including a Grammy Award and a Brit Award in addition to being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2016 Birthday Honours. Now 73 years old and showing no signs of retiring or slowing down, let’s look at Stewart’s early life, his incredible career, and his reputation as one of the biggest womanizers in the music business!
Long before he was knighted by the Queen of England, Roderick David Stewart came into this world on January 10, 1945 in Highgate, North London, England. As the youngest of five children, Stewart was born in the final year of World War II when his parents, Robert Joseph Stewart and Elsie Rebecca Gilbart, had finally recovered financially and could afford to spoil their youngest son. As a result, Stewart had an incredibly happy childhood as his father retired for the building trade and purchased a newsagent’s shop that the family eventually lived over. By then, Stewart was interested in railway modeling and football with his natural athletic ability shining on the field as he played center-back for his school’s football team.
Outside of sports, Stewart’s interest in music blossomed thanks to his family’s interest in music, specifically singer Al Jolson. Stewart collected Jolson’s records and read everything he could find about the artist before he discovered Bill Haley & His Comets and Little Richard. By then, Stewart knew he wanted to play music too and, after his father bought him a guitar for Christmas in 1959, he taught himself how to play. As time went on, he became less interested in school and more interested in music as he and his friends started a jazz, blues, and folk group named the Kool Kats.
Although the Kool Kats never hit it big, Stewart knew his interests were beyond the classroom and he dropped out of school at 15 years old. He briefly worked as a silk screen printer until his father encouraged him to pursue a professional football career. He tried out for the Brentford F.C. club but was never called back, which is what led Stewart back to music as he took on various jobs as a newspaper delivery boy for his father’s shop and as a laborer with the Highgate Cemetery. “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,” Stewart recalled of his career decision. “I plumped for music… They’re the only two things I can do actually: play football and sing.”
Teaching himself to play the harmonica, Stewart joined folk singer Wizz Jones as the duo traveled Europe performing and sleeping under bridges since they made little to no money. By the age of 18, Stewart changed his look entirely and started spiking his hair like a rooster. This reinvention was inspired by his growing interest in soul music, rhythm, and blues. In 1963, he joined the Dimensions rhythm and blues group as a vocalist and harmonica player, which marked the first time he worked as a professional musician. After a year, he left the group and joined the English blues band, the All Stars, with Long John Baldry. Although the association didn’t last long, it was enough to earn Stewart a solo contract with Decca Records. He released his first single, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,” but even though the single failed to chart, his “Rod the Mod” image attracted audiences who tuned in to watch him perform on television.
By the mid-1960s, Stewart’s “Rod the Mod” reputation blossomed as he joined guitarist Jeff Beck as a vocalist and songwriter in the Jeff Beck Group. After a successful tour, they released two albums before Stewart teamed up with Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan, Kenney Jones, and Steve Marriott to form a new group known as the Faces. In the meantime, Stewart released his solo album, An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down, in 1969 and followed up with the Faces’ debut album, First Step, in 1970. With the Faces being likened to the Rolling Stones, Stewart found the confidence to release his second solo album, Gasoline Alley, before his third album, Every Picture Tells a Story, made him a household name in 1971 thanks to singles like “Reason to Believe” and “Maggie May.”
The Faces released their second album, Long Player, in 1971 and enjoyed growing success over the next few years with several tours following the release of their third album, A Nod Is as Good as a Wink… To a Blind Horse, and their fourth and final album, Ooh La La, in 1973. By then, Stewart’s growing popularity caused a rift in the band and led the Faces to part ways as Stewart focused on his solo career with the release of his 1974 album, Smiler.Making His Way to America: A New Level of Fame
With his growing success in Europe, Stewart moved to the United States in 1975 and settled down in Los Angeles where he released his next album, Atlantic Crossing. The album’s first single, “Sailing,” became a number one hit and his biggest selling single in the United Kingdom. The following year, he topped the US Billboard Hot 100 with “Tonight’s the Night” from his A Night on the Town Album. He found similar success with albums like Foot Loose & Fancy Free (1977), Blondes Have More Fun (1978), Foolish Behaviour (1980), Tonight I’m Yours (1981), Camouflage (1984), and Vagabond Heart (1991).
Building his reputation with hits like “All for Love,” “It Takes Two,” and “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” Stewart was a force in the music business and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Shortly after, he set a Guinness World Record when he staged the largest free rock concert attendance in history when he performed in front of over three million people on Copacabana Beach in Rio. By then, he’d given up on creating his own material and spent the next decade belting out covers before welcoming the new millennium with the release of The Great American Songbook series, which featured pop standards from the 1930s and 1940s. Singing classics by Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, and Cole Porter, the albums were well received and inspired his 2009 studio album, Soulbook, which featured covers of Motown and soul singles.
In 2011, Stewart joined Stevie Nicks on the Heart & Soul Tour and proved he wasn’t slowing down anytime soon when he signed a new recording contract with Universal Music Group in 2012. Months later, he released his first Christmas album, Merry Christmas, Baby, and followed up with his tell-all autobiography, Rod: The Autobiography. Then, just when Stewart’s fans thought he’d given up on songwriting for good, he surprised everyone with his 2013 album, Time, marking his return to songwriting after over two decades.
“My assumption was that I was finished as a songwriter,” Stewart confessed. “I was trapped in all sorts of unhelpful mental alleys. But working on the book unlocked something. I was getting up in the middle of the night to write things down, which has never happened to me. I used to hate songwriting. It was like being at school. ‘Come on, Stewart, you’ve got to finish the lyrics!’ –and you’d get kicked into a room with a bottle of wine. But this was just a pleasure and a joy. I loved every minute of it.”
Time was a massive success for Stewart and topped the UK charts as it set a new record for the longest gap between chart-topping albums by an artist. Two years later, he released his next album, Another Country, and in September 2018, released his 30th studio album, Blood Red Roses.Life Beyond the Stage: Relationships & More
Apart from his impressive career on the stage and his numerous awards and honors including knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2016, Stewart is also known for his reputation as a womanizer and as one of the stingiest artists in the business. Of course, he has every reason to be stingy after his numerous relationships produced eight children by five different mothers. “Because of my pride in my Scottish heritage, I used to say things like, ‘I don’t mind buying a round of drinks, but I don’t buy two.’ It was something I joked about which has come back to bite me on the a**,” Stewart says. “I’m shrewd about money. I invest well and look after it. But it’s in my nature to be generous. I look after people.”
Part of that generosity stems from his numerous relationships over the years after building his reputation as a womanizer throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His earliest relationship was from 1963 to 1964 with art student Susannah Boffey, which produced Stewart’s first child, daughter Sarah Streeter. He then dated models Jennie Rylance (1965-67) and Dee Harrington (1971-75) followed by actress Britt Ekland (1975-77). He married model and actress Alana Stewart in 1979 and welcomed daughter Kimberly Alana Stewart into the world in August 1979 followed by the birth of son Sean Roderick Stewart in September 1980. Prior to divorcing Stewart in 1984, he had an affair with model Kelly Emberg (1983-1990) that produced daughter Ruby Stewart in June 1987. His second marriage came in 1990 when, at 45 years old, he married 21-year-old model Rachel Hunter.
Stewart and Hunter were married until 2006 and had two children together—Renee Cecili (June 1992) and Liam McAlister (September 1994)— before Hunter left Stewart in 1999. Their separation came as a huge blow for Stewart who later said, “I was distracted almost to the point of madness. I’m not saying I was complacent in my marriage to Rachel, far from it. I was loyal and I loved her dearly but as my sister said at the wedding, ‘Roddy, she’s far too young…’”
Shortly after Hunter left Stewart in 1999, he started dating model Penny Lancaster and welcomed son Alastair Wallace Stewart into the world in November 2005. After his divorce was finalized in 2006, the couple married in a private ceremony in June 2007. In 2011, they added to their family with the birth of Aiden Patrick and are still together today despite a vast age difference—Penny is 47 and Stewart is 73. However, Stewart is finally at a point in his life where he admits that sex isn’t everything. “You know, I love sex with my wife, but I love just giving her a hug before we go to bed,” he says. “Every night we have a kiss and a hug and that doesn’t always lead to sex but it’s still lovely.”
Of course, his relationship with Penny and the wisdom that often comes with age has made the 73-year-old Stewart repentant over how he ended his previous relationships. “The one thing I am desperately ashamed of is the way I would finish relationships,” he admits. “I can have confrontation with a bloke but never with a woman. I just have to run away from it. It’s sad, it’s shallow, and I’m embarrassed about it.”
While Stewart is embarrassed by his actions, he says he’s finally settled down and is ready for more kids. He isn’t, however, ready to retire—at least not anytime soon. “I would have to be nearly in a bloody wheelchair to retire,” he says. And he’s certainly not there yet!