Chatty and refreshingly candid

2012-11-28 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

Rod: The Autobiography

Rod Stewart

Century

 

WITH his raspy, blues-inflected vocals and compelling performance style, singer and sometime songwriter Rod Stewart has, in a career that has now spanned almost four decades, managed to remain hugely popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

The son of a North London plumber, Stewart was famously discovered by Long John Baldry, while busking on a station platform. After paying his musical dues with outfits like the Hoochie Coochie Men, Steampacket and the Jeff Beck Group, Stewart and his long-time pal, Ron Wood, joined the Small Faces (who subsequently became known simply as the Faces), a group renowned for its loose and boozy on-stage performances and generally wild lifestyle.

Having to operate in the increasingly lucrative shadow of Stewart’s burgeoning solo career added to the strains within the group, however, and in the late seventies the Faces finally folded.

Freed from the constraints of being just another member of a band, Stewart poured all his energy into his sole career, producing a constant stream of highly successful albums and singles, which culminated in his recent hugely popular American Songbook series. As one would expect from a big name seventies-style rock star, there was also plenty of drinking and drugging and womanising along the way

His name became romantically linked to a string of beautiful women, including ex-Bond girl Britt Ekland and he eventually married Hollywood socialite Alana Hamilton, as well as dating Kelly Ember and Kelly LeBrock. Most of his earlier relationships ended badly because of Stewart’s chronic infidelity. Ironically, the one time he did choose to remain faithful — to the model Rachel Hunter — it was she who grew to feel trapped in the marriage and decided to opt out, a decision that left Stewart heartbroken.

In this often entertaining memoir, Stewart grafts his descriptions of these and other events onto chapters dealing with his other two passions — football (as a child growing up he longed to be a professional player) and, he is unashamed to admit, being a model railroader. For anybody who always wanted to know (I’m not sure I did), he also devotes an entire chapter to describing how he maintains his trademark spiky hairdo.

Those looking for more about the music will be largely disappointed, but Stewart does provide an amiable, chatty and, at times, refreshingly candid account of his historic career, as well as describing how he managed to negotiate all the pitfalls along the way, and eventually find some sort of self-acceptance and marital happiness.

 

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