Monday, December 8, 2014

Rod Stewart, The #32 Artist of the Seventies*

It should be obvious that we are now well into the superstars, the cream of the crop of the great music that was the 70's.

Stewart went to the William Grimshaw Secondary Modern School in Hornsey, England.  He became interested in soccer, and was captain of the Middlesex Schoolboys team.  Stewart admired Al Jolson, then saw Bill Haley & His Comets in concert.  Rod's father bought him a guitar in 1959, and the following year, Stewart joined a skiffle group called the Kool Kats.

Stewart worked briefly as a silk screen printer.  He also worked as a newspaper delivery boy, and as a labourer for Highgate Cemetrery.  Rod tried out for the Brentford F.C. soccer team, but when he wasn't invited, opted for a career in music.

Stewart was also politically active, taking part in sit-ins to protest nuclear arms.  He was arrested at Trafalgar Square in London on three separate occasions.  In 1962, Rod met folk singer Wizz Jones, and learned how to play the harmonica.  He and Jones went on several trips over the next 18 months, sleeping under bridges over the River Seine in Paris, France, and going to Barcelona, Spain as well.  Stewart was discovered and deported for vagrancy from Spain in 1963.

Rod first became known as the lead singer of the Jeff Beck Group and Faces.  Prior to that, he was busking with a harmonica in 1962.  The following year, Rod joined the Dimensions, who performed at the famous Studio 51 Club in London, where the Rolling Stones often played.  Stewart improved his harmonica playing while watching Mick Jagger on stage.  Stewart then joined Long John Baldry and the All Stars, with regular gigs at the legendary Marquee Club.

Stewart signed a solo contract with Decca Records as far back as 1964, releasing the single "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl".  He then joined the group Steampacket, which opened for the Rolling Stones in 1965.  Rod continued to release solo singles, before joining the group Shotgun Express, which also included Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green, who would go on to found Fleetwood Mac.  

When guitarist Jeff Beck invited him to be in his group, it was the big break Stewart had been looking for.  The Jeff Beck Group toured Europe and the United States in 1968.  Stewart sang and wrote songs for two subsequent albums by the group.

In 1968, Stewart signed a solo recording contract with Mercury Records, and released his first album An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down in 1969.

Stewart then joined the group the Small Faces, which soon became known simply as the Faces.  Rod recorded the album First Step with the group in 1970.

In 1971, Stewart released the album Every Picture Tells a Story.  He released "Reason To Believe" as the single, but when radio stations got ahold of it, they flipped the 45 over and discovered a classic.  "Maggie May" became an international sensation, taking Rod Stewart along with it.  The song went to #1 in the United States, the U.K., and Australia, #2 in Ireland, #3 in the Netherlands, and #5 in Switzerland.

As the original lead single still received a good amount of airplay, we feature it here. 

The album sold over one million copies.  "(I Know) I'm Losing You" only reached #24.

Every Picture Tells a Story became a #1 album.  "Mandolin Wind" is another outstanding song.

We also want to feature the title song from Every Picture Tells a Story.

Stewart continued with Faces, though, and sang on the album Long Player, which contained the hit "Stay With Me".  But tensions began to develop in the band as Stewart's solo career was more successful than that of the Faces.

Stewart released the solo album Never a Dull Moment, which contained the single "You Wear It Well".  The song reached #1 in the U.K., #2 in Ireland, and a very underrated #13 in the United States.

Meanwhile, the Faces released their final album Ooh La La, but Stewart did not contribute until two weeks into the sessions, and the rift between he and the rest of the group grew.  Of course, Stewart's work with Faces does not factor into the rankings of The Top Artists of the Seventies*.

In 1974, Stewart released the album Smiler, a #1 album in the U.K., but the album failed to go Gold.

Stewart released the album The Best of Rod Stewart (which has now gone Platinum), then switched to Warner Brothers Records.

In 1975, Faces toured the United States, before Stewart announced their breakup.  Rod moved to Los Angeles, and released the album Atlantic Crossing.  The single "Sailing" reached #1 in the U.K., the Netherlands, and the Netherlands, #2 in Australia and Switzerland, and #5 in Germany.

Atlantic Crossing went Gold, paving the way for the release of the album A Night on the Town in 1976.  The single "Tonight's The Night (Gonna' Be Alright)" went Gold and reached #1 in the United States for eight weeks, one of the longest-running #1 songs of the Rock Era.  It also hit #2 in  Australia and Ireland, #3 in New Zealand, and #5 in the Netherlands.

The album has now sold over two million copies.  Stewart released the single "The Killing Of Georgie", about the death of a gay man.  It rose to #2 in the U.K.

Stewart released the single "The First Cut Is The Deepest".  It was a #1 song in the U.K., Germany, and the Netherlands, #2 in New Zealand, and #3 on the Adult chart and an underrated #21 overall in the U.S.

In 1977, Stewart released the album Foot Loose & Fancy Free.  The single "You're In My Heart" went to #1 in Australia, #2 in New Zealand and Ireland, #3 in the U.K. and #4 in the United States.  It sold over one million copies.

The album has now been certified Triple Platinum in the United States alone.  "Hot Legs" went to #4 in Germany and Ireland, #5 in the U.K., but only #22 in the U.S.

The flip side to "Hot Legs", which also received a lot of airplay, is "I Was Only Joking".

In 1978, Rod released the album  Blondes Have More Fun.  The single "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" carried into 1979, and sold over two million copies.  It was a smash #1 for four weeks in the U.S., and topped charts in the U.K., Australia and Ireland, and #2 in New Zealand. 

Rod donated proceeds from "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" to UNICEF, and performed it at the Music for UNICEF Concert at the United Nations.  Late in the year, Stewart released Greatest Hits, Volume 1, which has now sold over three million copies.

Stewart continued to be hot in the 80's, then experienced a resurgence recently, as he has found great success interpreting The Great American Songbook.

In 1994, Stewart was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  In 2001, Stewart became the first artist to receive a Diamond Award from the World Music Awards for sales of over 100 million records worldwide.  Rod also received a Legend Award from the World Music Awards. 

In 2005, Rod received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Two years later, Stewart received the Commander of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace in London. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Rod The Mod's classic "Maggie May" as one of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.  In 2011, Stewart received the ASCAP Founders Award.  In 2012, Stewart released his autobiography:  Rod:  The Autobiography.  Last year, he released the album Time, the first time he had written new songs in about twenty years. 

Stewart sold 10 million albums in the decade.  He scored 19 hits, with four Top 10 songs and three huge #1 songs.

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