Rod Stewart has really had three phases to his career. Early on he was a rock cum folk singer, interpreting songs with great depth and feeling, then he moved into what he himself called his "tarty" disco period, and a succession of entertaining records such as 'Do Ya Think I'm Sexy' and 'Hot Legs', but these were songs of no great depth or lasting greatness. Thirdly, he's gone back in time waving goodbye to his disco and rock (well, heavier rock) phases, but has achieved his greatest sustained album successes to date, with his, so far, four compilations of American popular music standards.
After years as a bit of a wild rocker with The Faces, and as a solo singer, Rod Stewart is having the biggest success of his career singing American standards.
Rod has had a colourful past. In the 1960s he was deported from Spain, when he was a self-confessed Beatnik, and also had time as a gravedigger. A gifted footballer, Stewart was an apprentice at English football team, Brentford.
Musically, Stewart's career began in folk music. Looking back on Rod Stewart's career, he was on the cusp of fame for quite some time. His first recorded single was with Jimmy Powell & the Five Dimensions in the early 1960s, then he joined the much respected Long John Baldry's Hoochie Coochie Men, but a single, 'Good Morning Little Schoolgirl', failed to do anything. The Hoochie Coochie Men became Steampacket, and their line-up reads like a Who's Who of British music luminaries, including Stewart, Baldry, a very young Julie Driscoll, and Brian Auger. Again there were signs of a big breakthrough in Rod's career, and, in 1965, Steampacket supported top acts of the time, including The Rolling Stones and The Walker Brothers. Stewart (like David Bowie a year earlier) made his first TV appearance regarding men's fashion, specifically, in Rod's case, the Mod movement, hence the Rod the Mod sobriquet. After Steampacket broke up in 1966, Stewart became lead singer for Shogun Express, which featured future Fleetwood Mac legends Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood. One single on they broke up, with one part of the group burgeoning into Fleetwood Mac.
Rod Stewart's big break came when he joined The Jeff Beck Group as lead vocalist. Jeff Beck was the guitarist, and, curiously, Stewart's future Faces bandmate, Ron Wood, was on bass. The first album by The Jeff Beck Group, 'Truth', made a good showing in the UK and the US charts in 1968. Stewart once said that The Jeff Beck Group "blew" the much feted psychedelic lynchpins Vanilla Fudge away, when they were their support act. The Jeff Beck Group's second album, 'Beck-ola' was also successful, in 1969, but the band split up, and Stewart and Wood joined forces with three of the four Small Faces, (the exception being Steve Marriott who formed Humble Pie with Peter Frampton), Ronnie Lane, Kenny Jones, and Ian McLagan. Wood became the lead guitarist, and Stewart's voice was not that unlike Steve Marriott's raucous vocal style. Lane (bass), Jones (drums), and McLagan (keyboards) made up the line-up of one of rock's hottest acts of the early 1970s. Rod Stewart was also able to cultivate a solo career at the same time, and when 'Maggie May' became a number one single on both sides of the Atlantic in 1971, he had really cracked it. He had also recorded a single with Python Lee Jackson, an Australian group, in 1970, entitled 'In A Broken Dream', which was re-released in 1972 and became a hit. Stewart was famously paid for his contribution with a set of car seat covers. The song remains one of Rod Stewart's best and most moving vocal performances.
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