ROD STEWART – a Celebrated Life
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ROD STEWART: a Celebrated Life
In 1994, he staged the largest free rock concert in history when he performed in front of 3.5M people in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked him the 17th most successful artist on the “Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists.
International Rock Star
Da Ya Think He's Sexy?
His boyhood passion was soccer – for music lovers all over the world, we’re fortunate he didn’t stick with it!
Rod Stewart has had a career characterized by a free-wheeling lifestyle, sometimes fickle fans, critics who (maybe) called it wrong, and always fantastic comebacks. Now at the ripe and still rebellious age of 74, Stewart is here in Las Vegas to reprise the hits from his 2011 Las Vegas residency Rod Stewart: The Hits, which is still one of the most highly regarded shows ever on the Las Vegas Strip.
The eight shows at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace will showcase chart-busting favorites like “Maggie May”, “The First Cut is the Deepest”, “You Wear It Well”, “Tonight’s the Night”, “Hot Legs”, and “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” which was originally panned by fans and critics alike. The shows will likely feature songs from the latest album, Blood Red Roses, which peaked 62 on the Billboard 200. There will be appeal for fans from every decade.
Tickets for Rod Stewart: The Hits can be purchased in person at the Colosseum Box Office, by calling 866.320.9763, or online at either thecolosseum.com or ticketmaster.com. The venue is smallish at less than 4300 seats, so snag your tickets soon.
Beginnings, the U.K. bands. . .
The early 60s were developmentally important. The young Stewart toured Europe with a folk singer named Wizz Jones; sang with Jimmy Powell & the Five Dimensions; and with the Hoochie Coochie Men (who became Steampacket, and toured with The Roller Stones); and finally, Shotgun Express.
In 1966 Stewart joined the bluesy Jeff Beck Group as lead singer and toured both the U.K. and U.S. Two hit albums – Truth and Beck-Ola –stoked the desire for success and fame. Stewart has always been an emotive performer. New York Times critic John Rockwell said his “whiskey tenor” voice evoked “manly toughness with aching emotional pain…” It was sexy as hell. Stewart’s style was a perfect match for Beck’s heavy guitar.
Solos and collaborations. . .
Rod released his first solo album – An Old Raincoat Won’t Let You Down – recorded in 1969 with Beck’s bass player, Ron Wood, who had also left the band while Beck was recovering from a car accident. The acclaimed debut renamed The Rod Stewart Album in the U.S., mixed Stewart’s folk background with R&B and rock and included some of the poignant character sketches that have defined his work. That same year, he and Wood joined what later became Faces.
The creative streak with Wood and Faces, from 1970-1974, produced eight albums of which two were solo ventures for Stewart. Gasoline Alley came out in fall 1970. Solo #3, Every Picture Tells A Story, in 1971 went to number one in both Britain and America, making him famous. “Maggie May”, maybe Stewart’s best-loved song, still enjoys never-ending play on classic rock stations. The story is timeless: a young man, a mature woman, magnetic romance, the agony of parting. Stewart has claimed there was a real affair when he was in his mid-teens – and it rings true.
But the collaboration with Wood began to wane sometime in ’71 as Stewart’s success sparked jealousy with Faces. Touring in ’72 was fraught. By early ’74 the band was done and officially broke up the following year. Ron Wood later joined The Rolling Stones.
In 1975, a tax dispute with the British government persuaded Stewart to leave England for the U.S.
Welcome to America. . .
There followed Atlantic Crossing which augured the move from rock to pop. The new, slick sound continued on A Night on The Town (1976) with its chart-topping “Tonight’s the Night.” Even more remarkable was the writing which included “The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II)”, a poignant narrative about the murder of a gay friend. Over 40 years later, still relevant AF. The Killing of Georgie
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The headlong years. . .
Stewart’s sound continued to become more processed pop as his lifestyle became a continuous party. Flippant albums like Foot Loose & Fancy Free (1977) and Blondes Have More Fun (1978) nevertheless sold millions. But critics snubbed “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” Intended as a joke on disco, it still charted number one in ’79 and became one of his greatest hits. Rolling Stone pegs it at #308 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The Playboy life style may have had something to do with the lower sales and quality through much of the 80s. Yet during this period Tonight I’m Yours (1981) went platinum and introduced popular new wave and synth sounds. The seductive “live it long and live it fast” life included multiple women – the “Miss In-betweens” Rod called them. Who they were
Bigger and better than ever . . .
The road back to the top began in’ 89 with the release of a four-disc CD box set, Storyteller. A nod back at rock characterized Vagabond Heart (1991) showcasing a duet with soul legend Tina Turner, and cuts with Robbie Robertson (The Band). Reunion after nearly 20 years with Faces bandmate Ron Wood for an MTV Unplugged gig in 1993 brought fans the live album Unplugged…and Seated, a mix of 70s hits and new songs. The title came from a joke Stewart made about the difficulty of singing “Stay With Me” while sitting down.
His 1998 release When We Were the New Boys, harkened back to the old rock roots and got a real thumbs up from fans and critics. David Wild in Rolling Stone wrote that it was “…Stewart’s strongest studio album in years.”
Then in 2000, his voice graveled slightly lower following thyroid surgery. Human, a 2001 crossover to urban and contemporary pop was a commercial and critical failure. Stewart decided it was time for a change.
A new direction. . .
Seeking redemption, Stewart looked to the iconic works of George Gershwin and Cole Porter, recording his versions of their classics from the Great American Songbook.
Starting with It Had to Be You, a total of four albums between 2002 and 2005 hit big in the adult contemporary market and were later made into a box set. Commenting to Rebeca Winters of Time, he observed that the project was “meant to be a labor of love, something I was doing for a laugh.”
Critics – gotta love ‘em – felt Stewart lacked the talent for these subtle old songs. “Lame” said Chuck Arnold (People). “Sacrilegious” concluded Ty Burr (Entertainment Weekly). Fans disagreed. The set went double platinum. Stewart won his only Grammy (he’s been nominated 15 times) for Stardust (2004) the third in the series.
Still finding fame. . .
Over a lifetime in music, Stewart has won numerous awards. Among them:
The Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution (1993); Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee (1994); Sexiest male spectacle wearer (Specsavers, 2004); A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2005); Inducted into the U.K. Music Hall of Fame for outstanding contribution to British music and integral part of British culture (2006); Awarded the CBE in the Queen’s New Years Honours (2007); Knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to music and charity (2016)
Looking back. . .
Stewart acknowledges that he owes his tremendous success to a chance meeting with Long John Baldry, an early 60s British blues pioneer who discovered him busking in a train station and was so impressed that he invited Stewart to join his band – the Hoochie Coochie Men.
On relationships, Rod has decided that “Instead of getting married again, “I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and just give her a house.”
Elton John, a long-time close friend, has said of him: “the best singer I’ve heard in rock ‘n’ roll.” Stewart returned the compliment, saying of John: “the second-best rock singer ever.”
Rod has always loved fame but doesn’t go out of his way for it. “I mean, I don’t go walking down the street in a pink satin suit.”
In 2011, when asked on Piers Morgan Tonight what he would like for his epitaph, Stewart deadpanned:“I’m a celebrity, let me out of here.”
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