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Last Updated: Friday, 29 October, 2004, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Enduring career of Rod the Mod
Rod Stewart
Stewart launched his music career on tour with folk singer Wizz Jones
As Rod Stewart returns to the top of the US album chart after 25 years, the singer's success is testament to the loyalty of his fans.

The UK's biggest rock star of the 1970s, Rod Stewart actually began his career as an apprentice professional with Brentford Football Club.

Born in Highgate, north London, in January 1945, Stewart made it known that football was his second love.

Music was his first love, and in the early 1960s he toured Europe with folk singer Wizz Jones.

Blues beginnings

During this time Stewart was deported from Spain for vagrancy. It was the first indication that he could generate as much interest in his extracurricular activities as his musical achievements.

Returning to England in 1963, Stewart joined Birmingham-based R&B group Jimmy Powell and the Five Dimensions, as a vocalist, harmonica and blues harp player.

The attention he gained earned Stewart places in a series of 1960s bands including the Hoochie Coochie Men, which became Steampacket, and blues-based Shotgun Express.

Rod Stewart
Ron Wood (left) and Stewart (centre) joined The Faces in 1969
Stewart also appeared in a television documentary on the swinging mod scene, where he picked up the nickname "Rod the Mod".

By 1966, Stewart was well-known in R&B and blues circles but it was joining the Jeff Beck Group that gave him national exposure.

He and the former Yardbirds guitarist pioneered the heavy blues rock line-up of a virtuoso guitarist and a dynamic lead vocalist, which became the blueprint for heavy metal.

The band's two albums, Truth and Beck-Ola, became transatlantic hits as the group's extensive US tours paid off, but they split in 1969.

Solo deal

Stewart and Jeff Beck Group bassist Ron Wood went on to join the Small Faces, replacing departed singer and guitarist Steve Marriott.

As the boisterous rock and roll band switched its name to The Faces, Stewart also signed a solo deal and juggled both careers over the next six years.

The Faces' second album Gasoline Alley was a big hit, thanks to its title track and the acclaimed Lady Day, as Stewart became a major star with solo albums Every Picture Tells A Story and Never A Dull Moment.

Rachel Hunter and Rod Stewart
Stewart separated from model Rachel Hunter in 2003
They established Stewart as a respected interpretive singer, with versions of Jimi Hendrix's Angel and The Temptations' I'm Losing You, and an accomplished writer of enduring hits such as Maggie May and You Wear It Well.

Stewart sang all these in his now-familiar weathered, hoarse voice.

In the mid-1970s he embarked upon a high-profile relationship with actress Britt Ekland, gaining a playboy reputation maintained through a succession of affairs with glamorous women.

Critical success

In 2003 Stewart separated from model Rachel Hunter, with whom he had two children.

He also has two grown-up children from his first marriage to Alana Hamilton, and a daughter by model Kelly Emberg.

Stewart's solo album Atlantic Crossing was his last critical success for many years, featuring the number one hit and future football crowd anthem Sailing.

Rod Stewart
Stewart promoted his 2001 album on Michael Parkinson's chat show
At the end of 1975, Stewart left the Faces and the band finally called it quits.

Since then Stewart has flirted with numerous styles including pop, new wave and disco.

His albums earned mixed reviews over the past three decades, yet spawned global hits such as Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?, Baby Jane, Rhythm Of My Heart and Downtown Train.

On 1998's When We Were the New Boys he covered songs such as Cigarettes and Alcohol by Oasis, Skunk Anansie's Weak and Rocks by Primal Scream.

Honour denied

It was not as successful as Stewart's recent foray into the world of jazz standards, with three volumes of The Great American Songbook becoming hits on both sides of the Atlantic.

While critical respect now largely eludes him, Stewart's fans remain loyal. In 2002 he was crowned "legend of legends" in a poll for oldies radio network Capital Gold, beating Elvis, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Rod Stewart
His recent albums of jazz standards have become big US and UK hits
Twenty of Stewart's hit songs formed the basis of musical Tonight's the Night, written by comedian Ben Elton, which ran in London's West End for a year.

On its October 2003 opening night, Stewart launched a verbal tirade against fellow musicians including the "miserable" Sir Elton John and Sting, who he called "Mr Serious who helps the Indians".

The 59-year-old multi-millionaire added that he was mystified why he had never been honoured by the Queen.

"I do my bit for charity," he said. "Maybe it will come along - the OBE: Ordered Out Of the British Empire."

Sting responded by offering Stewart one of his 14 Grammy awards.

"I think he deserves one, I really do," said Sting.


SEE ALSO:
Rod Stewart tops US album chart
27 Oct 04 |  Entertainment
Stewart proves enduring appeal
26 Oct 03 |  Entertainment
Hunter drops Stewart divorce
02 Jul 03 |  Entertainment
Rod faces Maggie May action
03 Mar 03 |  England
Rod rocks at Stormont
28 Jul 02 |  Northern Ireland


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