He was born Roderick Stewart in London, England, in 1945. His first musical influences, while growing up, were Al Jolson, Little Richard and Bill Haley. Rod got his first guitar in 1959 and by 1960 he had joined a skiffle band called The Kool Kats.
Rod dropped out of school at the age of fifteen and, despite his father’s desire for Rod to play football, Rod’s desire for a musical career outweighed his father’s ambitions for him to be a sports legend. While trying to get his musical career off the ground, Rod worked as a newspaper delivery boy, fence erector and a grave digger.
Rod worked as a folk singer, in Europe, in the early 1960’s by playing and singing in numerous bands, including the lead singer, in 1962, of The Ray Davies Quartet, later known as The Kinks. When Rod returned to London, he became heavily affected by the R & B sounds of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.
Rod was discovered by Long John Baldry (who also discovered Elton John). Baldry hooked Rod up with The Hoochie Coochie Men and later he was with Steampacket and then Shotgun Express.
In 1967, Rod joined the Jeff Beck group, where he stayed until 1969 when he and Ron Wood joined the group Faces. That collaboration remained until 1975. During that time Rod signed a solo recording contract with Mercury Records, where he had his first Top 40 hit with “Maggie May” in 1971.
On the charts, Rod has had 34 Billboard Top 40 hits. Four of those went to number one. Here’s a look at Rod Stewart’s twenty biggest hits, according to Billboard’s Weekly Top 40 charts.
1. Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright) – 1976 – after not having a top 40 hit in 4 years, Rod returned with the biggest record of 1976, taking it to the top of the charts for eight weeks.
2. Maggie May – 1971 – Rod’s first top 40 hit was also his first # 1 hit and was originally released as the B side to “Reason To Believe.”
3. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? – 1979 – Rod was criticized for releasing this disco-oriented single and abandoning his R & B roots. His defense was that other rock artists were leaving similar material, including Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones.
4. All For Love – 1993 – from the 1993 film “The Three Musketeers”, Rod shares the spotlight on this single with Bryan Adams and Sting.
5. Downtown Train – 1990 – Originally recorded by Tom Waits in 1985, Rod’s cover version includes guitar work by Jeff Beck.
6. You’re In My Heart (The Final Acclaim) – 1978 – from the “Footloose And Fancy Free” album, the single includes the lyrics “Celtic, United” which are the names of two of Rod’s favorite football teams (Glasgow Celtic And Manchester United.)
7. My Heart Can not Tell You No – 1989 – from the “Out Of Order” album.
8. Passion – 1981 – from the “Foolish Behavior” album.
9. Young Turks – 1981 – also known as “Young Hearts” The video of this song is the first one shown on MTV displaying breakdancing.
10. Rhythm Of My Heart – 1991 – from the “Vagabond Heart” album, “Buggles lead singer, Trevor Horn, produced this single for Rod.
11. Have I Told You Laately – 1993 – written and originally recorded by Van Morrison in 1989 and winning him a Grammy, Rod’s live version came from his “Unplugged … And Seated” album.
12. Infatuation – 1984 – from his “Camouflage” album and going to # 6 on the weekly charts.
13. Love Touch – 1986 – from the film “Legal Eagles” starring Robert Redford, Debra Winger and Darryl Hannah, this single was featured on Rod’s “Every Beat Of My Heart” album.
14. The Motown Song – 1991 – also from the “Vagabond Heart” album, this single features backing vocals by The Temptations.
15. Some Guys Have All The Luck – 1984 – originally recorded by The Persuaders in 1973, a country version was recorded by Louise Mandrell in 1985 called, “Some Girls Have All The Luck.”
16. This Old Heart Of Mine – 1990 – originally recorded by The Isely Brothers in 1966, Rod first charted in 1976 with this single and then rerecorded it with Ron Isely in 1990.
17. Crazy About Her – 1989 – from the “Out Of Order” album.
18. Forever Young – 1988 – a rewrite of a Bob Dylan song of the same title, Rod shares writing credits with Dylan, after fearing a plagiarism suit. Another version of this song is being used as the opening theme to the NBC TV series, “Parenthood.”
19. Lost In You – 1988 – also from the “Out Of Order” album.
20. You Wear It Well – 1972 – from the “Never A Dull Moment” album.
In 2002, Rod released an album of old standards called, “The Great American Songbook.” As of 2010, Rod has released five “Great American Songbook” albums garnering him 13 Top 30 singles on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary Charts.
Rod has been married three times; First, to actor George Hamilton’s ex-wife, Alana, from 1979-1984. In 1990, he married model Rachel Hunter and they divorced in 2006. He is currently married to model Penny Lancaster and is the father of seven children with the eighth due early in 2011.
In 1989, Rod Stewart won Grammy’s Living Legends Award. He still enjoys performing and recording. He plays in a senior soccer league and is a model railway enthusiast.