Sir Roderick David Stewart CBE (born 10 January 1945) is a British singer-songwriter best known for his raspy voice and a flair for storytelling in his lyrics. He has had a considerably longer and more varied career than many people probably realize. After navigating the London Folk and Blues scenes in The '60s, Stewart fronted the Jeff Beck Group, and was also the lead singer for Faces concurrently with his early solo success.
Beginning with his solo debut in 1969, Stewart's early material mixed Rock with his folk and blues influences, and lyrics that reflected a working-class sensibility. Picture an English Bruce Springsteen years before Springsteen began his career and you have an idea of what Stewart was doing at that point. In 1971 he achieved a Breakthrough Hit with "Maggie May", a song about a teenage boy who is tired of shacking up with his much older lover. After that, his music gradually became more slick and Rock-oriented, and he became famous—or infamous—for sexually-charged songs like "Tonight's the Night", which discusses seduction of a virgin (including an almost explicit description of him demanding she let him get inside her); "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy", a Disco tune about a man and woman who have sex after meeting in a nightclub; and "Young Turks", about a boy and girl who decide to run off together when their parents won't let them be together any more (probably because he got her pregnant). By The '80s he had softened his style into lighter soft rock and ballads, and shortly after the Turn of the Millennium he successfully reinvented himself as a crooner of traditional pop standards on a series of Great American Songbook albums.
He might also be famous for his numerous girlfriends and wives (and sometimes both together), including Britt Ekland, Alana Hamilton, Rachel Hunter, Penny Lancaster and others. He has one daughter from one of his wives.
He tried to be a footballer (soccer player for you Americans) and typically tosses a soccer ball out into the audience for them to bounce around. He's also known for having very rowdy hair, and he's a model train enthusiast.
As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki.
Solo Studio Discography:
- The Rod Stewart Album (North American title) / An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down (international title) note (1969)
- Gasoline Alley (1970)
- Every Picture Tells a Story (1971)
- Never a Dull Moment (1972)
- Smiler (1974)
- Atlantic Crossing (1975)
- A Night on the Town (1976)
- Foot Loose & Fancy Free (1977)
- Blondes Have More Fun (1978)
- Foolish Behaviour (1980)
- Tonight I'm Yours (1981)
- Body Wishes (1983)
- Camouflage (1984)
- Every Beat of My Heart (1986)
- Out of Order (1988)
- Vagabond Heart (1991)
- A Spanner in the Works (1995)
- When We Were the New Boys (1998)
- Human (2001)
- It Had to Be You... The Great American Songbook (2002)
- As Time Goes By... The Great American Songbook Vol. II (2003)
- Stardust... The Great American Songbook Volume III (2004)
- Thanks for the Memory... The Great American Songbook Volume IV (2005)
- Still the Same... Great Rock Classics of Our Time (2006)
- Soulbook (2009)
- Once in a Blue Moon: The Lost Album (2009)
- Fly Me to the Moon... The Great American Songbook Volume V (2010)
- Merry Christmas, Baby (2012)
- Time (2013)
- Another Country (2015)
- Blood Red Roses (2018)
- The Tears of Hercules (2021)
"Every Trope Tells a Story, Don't It?":
- Artist and the Band: During his tenure with the Faces, the groups' billing changed from "Faces" to "Faces featuring Rod Stewart" and finally "Rod Stewart and Faces" before Ronnie Lane (the group's other main songwriter and vocalist) quit and they essentially just became Stewart's backing band.
- Babies Ever After: "Young Turks" is about a teen couple, Billy and Patti, who run away from home and start anew. To show that everything turns out great, the last line of the song (before a repeat of the chorus) is, "Patti gave birth to a ten pound baby boy! YEAH!"
- Boléro Effect: The final 90 seconds of "Lost Paraguayos" features the same 11-note horn riff repeated over and over with increasing intensity, along with Rod doing vocal riffing and Ron Wood adding some guitar runs.
- Chewing the Scenery: He...clearly had fun singing "Hot Legs"."I love ya, HONAAYYY!"
- Chick Magnet: One of the more famous examples in music industry. Women were basically throwing themselves at him back in the '70s.
- Christmas Songs: His Merry Christmas, Baby album.
- Cover Album: Increasingly prevalent in later years, including albums of swing, rock and soul covers.
- Cover Version:
- The very first song on his debut album was a cover of "Street Fighting Man", and that set the pattern for most of his albums having at least one or two covers on them. Some have more covers than originals, including some of his most widely loved albums (for instance, five of the eight tracks on Every Picture Tells a Story are covers: "Seems Like a Long Time" by Ted Anderson, which Stewart found on an album by Brewer & Shipley; "That's All Right" by Arthur Crudup, probably best known in Elvis Presley's version; "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" by Bob Dylan; "(I Know) I'm Losing You" by The Temptations; "Reason to Believe" by Tim Hardin).
- There's the odd case of "Ooh La La", which he covered on When We Were the New Boys and had a hit with in 1998. Yes, it was a Faces song from when he was in the band, but he didn't write the song (Ronnie Lane and Ron Wood did) or sing it (Wood did). Stewart's version was intended as a tribute to Lane, who died shortly before Stewart recorded the album.
- The Cover Changes the Gender: "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Man", and a few other similar examples.
- The Cover Changes the Meaning: His version of the Gerry Goffin/Carole King song "Oh No Not My Baby" leaves out the final verse where the narrator and his lover reconcile, making it a song about a man regretting that he believed his unfaithful lover.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: "Maggie May". Stewart was sexually abused by an older woman in his teens, and the song is about his experience
- '80s Hair: One of the most notorious male offenders.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: Rod is famous for this. He named one of his albums basically after the trope.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: Particularly on his early albums he had a habit of restarting songs after they seem to be over, beginning with the very first song on his debut album, "Street Fighting Man". It's done in a different style than the original by The Rolling Stones and seems to have a cold ending. But then it starts again with Stewart repeating the first verse, but doing it more explicitly like the Stones' version. A few songs later, "Handbags and Gladrags" closes with the piano playing the song's recurring hook for what sounds like one final time, with Rod humming along with it. The final piano note sustains for a few seconds and it sounds like it's beginning to Fade Out, but then it picks up the riff one last time for a few bars before the real ending.
- Gratuitous French: The whispers at the end of "Tonight's the Night", courtesy of Britt Ekland, Stewart's then-girlfriend.
- Harsh Vocals: The vocal style he's most known for. In actuality, though he sometimes had this style on his more uptempo or electric numbers (ie. "Hot Legs") his voice simply has rasp, even on songs the vocals couldn't be considered harsh.
- Homophobic Hate Crime: "The Killing of Georgie (Part I & II)" was inspired by the Real Life murder of a gay friend during the 1970s.
- Intercourse with You: Several:
- "Maggie May" isn't entirely about this, but there is a verse where he describes the nights he spent with her.
- "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy", a tale of a one-night stand (that may or may not have led to something more in the long run).
- "Tonight's the Night", a.k.a. the one where he says "Spread your wings and let me come inside".
- It Will Never Catch On: "Maggie May" began life as a rough song sketch Stewart played around with but didn't think was very good. Then while making Every Picture Tells a Story, Mercury Records told him the album needed one more song, and it had to be an original rather than a Cover Version. He hurriedly finished writing the song, but still wasn't convinced it would work. In an attempt to try anything that might kickstart it, he added a celesta and a mandolin to the mix. Mercury agreed that it didn't have much chance for success, releasing it as the B-Side to "Reason to Believe". Instead, radio stations flipped the single over and "Maggie May" became the massive hit that turned him into a star.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The line "Find myself a rock and roll band that needs a helping hand" in "Maggie May", since that's essentially how he came to be involved with Faces, which he was still a member of at the time.
- Leg Focus: The girl he's singing about in "Hot Legs".
- Market-Based Title: His debut album was called An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down in the UK and The Rod Stewart Album in the US, but since it was released in the US first, arguably Raincoat counts as the trope example.
- Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: The later verses of "Every Picture Tells a Story" have the narrator end up in China, where he falls in love with a woman he calls Shanghai Lil.
- Mrs. Robinson: Maggie in "Maggie May". The song doesn't specify how big the age gap is between her and the narrator, but we know that he's young enough to still be in school, and that in her case, "the morning sun when it's in your face really shows your age."
- New Sound Album: A few times throughout his career, probably most notably Camouflage (1984) and It Had To Be You: The Great American Songbook (2002), synth-rock and jazz standards respectively. Apart from that, change had been present but more gradual, dramatic departures usually being limited to singles.
- Non-Appearing Title:
- "Maggie May" qualifies. He only ever calls her "Maggie".
- The first two songs on Never a Dull Moment, "True Blue" and "Lost Paraguayos". "Lost Paraguayos" actually makes a slight bit of sense on examination, since the lyrics talk about "South American sun." It's also a Pun-Based Title, as a parody of Los Paraguayos, a traditional Latin music band from Paraguay who've toured internationally since The '50s.
- Also some of his later hits, like "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" (the chorus goes "If you want my body and you think I'm sexy...") and "Young Turks" (the chorus starts out "Young hearts be free tonight").
- Oh, No... Not Again!: Said word for word in "Infatuation".
- Packaged as Other Medium:
- The cover of Every Picture Tells a Story is supposed to look like a sheet music cover from circa 1910 (the "Classic Edition" note at the top was borrowed from an actual old sheet music cover). The mock sheet music illustrations for the songs in the inner artwork make it more obvious.
- His first Greatest Hits Album, 1973's Sing it Again, Rod, had a die-cut cover that resembled a glass of scotch.
- Rail Enthusiast: He's probably the most well-known of these in music. He is a model train enthusiast with a 1:87 scale representation of New York's "Three Rivers" Manhattan and the surrounding area that is so enigmatic only Model Railroader◊ magazine is allowed exclusive access, and has attained the title of "Master Model Railroader" - he's appeared on the front cover of that magazine four times. On his travels, he always books two hotel rooms - one for his trains. The video of his cover of Tom Waits' song "Downtown Train" was shot in the Hoboken, New Jersey train terminal and features him hanging off moving trains like an old railroading hand. See this good recent summary of his passion for the hobby; he's so detail-oriented that he even takes particular care to get the grimy pavements of the urban streets right.
- Rock is Authentic, Pop is Shallow: People who champion his pre-1975 work (both solo and with groups) tend to view that more rock-based music as his definitive sound, and everything that came after it as shallow pandering. But considering that two of his big musical idols were Sam Cooke and Al Jolson, his turn away from Hard Rock really isn't that surprising.
- Rouge Angles of Satin: For reasons that have never really been explained, it's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy", not "Do Ya...".
- Sampling: The synthesised "string" melody in "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" is borrowed from Bobby Womack's 1975 song "(If You Want My Love) Put Something Down on It".
- Self-Plagiarism: "You Wear it Well" was very obviously intended as "Maggie May v2.0", with an arrangement that follows the earlier song's outline almost to a T.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: A musical version occurs in "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy"; right after the main character brings his date to his apartment, we get treated to an instrumental break. The next verse starts with them waking up the next morning, making it clear what they spent that instrumental break doing...
- Shout-Out: "The Motown Song"
- Siamese Twin Songs: The brief acoustic guitar piece before "Maggie May" on Every Picture Tells a Story is technically a separate song called "Henry". On Never a Dull Moment, "Maggie May" soundalike "You Wear it Well" is preceded by a similar piece called "Interludings".
- Silly Love Songs: "Tonight's The Night," "Reason to Believe," "You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)," "My Heart Can't Tell You No," etc.
- Singing Voice Dissonance: His speaking voice has a strong Scottish accent (reflecting his family background), but he completely ditches it when he sings.
- Sinister Switchblade: The title character of "The Killing Of Georgie" gets murdered by a thug with a switchblade.
- Snow Means Cold: "Mandolin Wind"The snow fell without a break
Buffalo died in the frozen fields, you know
Through the coldest winter in almost fourteen years
I couldn't believe you kept a smile
- Stealth Parody: "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" was a parody of disco culture that was taken seriously by the anti-disco backlash.
- Unplugged Version: Stewart did a twenty one unplugged set for MTV's Unplugged series. Seventeen of the songs (thirteen on the original release) would make it onto the accompanying album Unplugged...and Seated.
- Urban Legend: The infamous "Stomach pump" story, which has also been attributed to other musicians.
- There was also one that he played the harmonica on Millie Small's 1964 hit "My Boy Lollipop". This one remains uncertain, though Stewart has denied it.
- Vocal Evolution: Surprisingly averted, especially with his known style of singing. He's lost some range, but on certain recordings in later years he still sounds just like he did in the early 70s.