Rod Stewart was born the working-class son of a Scottish plumber in North London. Despite some early close shaves with a number of diverse career paths, ranging from gravedigging to professional football, it was music that truly captured his heart – and he never looked back.
Rod started out in the early 1960s, playing the clubs on London’s R&B scene, before his distinctively raspy voice caught the ear of the iconic front man Long John Baldry, who approached him while busking one night on a railway platform. Stints with pioneering acts like the Hoochie Coochie Men, Steampacket, and the Jeff Beck Group soon followed, paving the way into a raucous five years with the Faces, the rock star’s rock band, whose offstage antics with alcohol, wrecked hotel rooms and groupies have become the stuff of legend.
And during all this, he found a spare moment to write ‘Maggie May’, among a few others, and launch a solo career that has seen him sell an estimated 200 million records, be inducted into the Hall of Fame twice, and play the world’s largest ever concert. Not bad, as he says, for a guy with a frog in his throat.
And then, there is his not-so-private life: marriages, divorces and affairs with some of the world’s most beautiful women – Bond girls, movie stars and supermodels – and a brush with cancer which very nearly saw it all slip away.
Rod’s is an incredible life, and here, thrillingly and for the first time, he tells the whole thing, leaving no knickers under the bed. A rollicking rock ’n’ roll adventure that is at times deeply moving, this is the remarkable journey of a guy with one hell of a voice – and one hell of a head of hair.
The Hair.The Women.The Music.
Many things have been said about Rod Stewart over the years. In a career spanning five decades I guess it is hard not to have hit the headlines once or twice. Now you can read all about Rod Stewart in his new autobiography….and it is bloody good.
Much like the way Rod Stewart can sing a good story it is now apparent that he can also write one. Granted it is a story that he is an expert in because it was he who lived it. His story starts out with his humble beginnings, born just at the end of the war and sees his development from child to teen to man. This ‘warts and all’ account of his life is told in a very honest almost conversational way. Stewart has managed to talk to you in a way that makes you want to – indeed feel compelled to – read on. He doesn’t bog you down with this achievement or that award or how many records he has sold (although there are a few references to his success) however he gives you, rather generously, a guided tour into not only his life but the life of a rock star.
In a time that appears to have musicians incestuously flitting from band to band; and rock stars taking lovers left right and centre; and drugs being bandied around willy-nilly it is hard for someone who hasn’t lived that life to even imagine this world of decadence. Stewart’s simple style of ‘tell it like it was’ makes it seem so tangible and makes you feel a part of this magical scene. The most impressive thing about this account of this world is that he has made it seem microcosmic, just the everyday normal run of the mill events. To the reader these events are often mind-blowing.
Stewart talks candidly about his infidelities, acknowledging his faults and seems truly sorry for any pain he has caused (be warned some of these stories do have a mild blue streak). He is unashamedly honest. The autobiography is littered with miniature chapters which Stewart refers to as ‘Digressions’ – these colourful interludes are used well to break up some of the harder moments in the book such as dealing with his heartbreak, the loss of family or just to generally go off on a tangent unrelated to the last chapter. They add a sweet quality and texture to the story.
What is starkly refreshing about this book is that you get the general feeling of sincerity and gratitude. Stewart gives the impression of feeling genuinely blessed with his lot in life. He shows no sign of stopping and talks of an album release for 2013 but he also doesn’t seem to be angry about the passing of time or the fact that he is getting older. He just seems genuinely content. It is this tone that runs throughout the autobiography that made it such a pleasure to read.
So let Rod Stewart tell you his story in his own unique raspy voice.
Rod – The Autobiography is available now.
* Review originally published on Different Scene