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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 December 2006, 09:56 GMT
Stewart goes beneath the covers
By Kevin Young
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Rod Stewart
Stewart's hits include Sailing, You Wear it Well and Baby Jane
It is exactly 35 years since Rod Stewart scored his first major hit singles - as a solo artist on Maggie May, and as one of The Faces for Stay With Me.

Now aged 61, Stewart has been busy in 2006.

Appearances on TV talent shows in the UK and US accompanied the release of a covers album, while in his personal life, he was adapting to life with baby son Alastair and finalising his divorce with Rachel Hunter.

Looking relaxed in a hotel suite in central London - slouching with his right leg dangling over the arm of his chair - Stewart is happy to reminisce about the successful start to his career he enjoyed with The Faces.

"We didn't think it was very good when we were doing it. That was why The Faces were such a drinking band, because we didn't really believe in ourselves.

"The music of The Faces has influenced a lot of bands, a lot of people.

Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart in 1974
It was certainly a high point because we were always high
Rod Stewart on The Faces

"It was a good combination of fellowship between the five guys in the band and a unique songwriting team - myself, Ronnie Lane and Ronnie Wood.

"I think we wrote some tremendous songs - narrative songs which always had a beginning and an end, with good acoustic melodies and harmonies."

The Faces were "a good band" and yet their music sounded "thrown together", he concedes, adding that this was because they were "always drunk".

"It was certainly a high point because we were always high," he says.

"But it was when I first started to seriously write songs, so I learned a great deal, as I did with Long John Baldry and the Jeff Beck Group. You learn with all these bands, hopefully - and you should learn."


In October, the singer released Still the Same: Great Rock Classics of Our Time, a covers album which followed the reinterpretations heard on the four volumes of his Great American Songbook.

He says he is unlikely to rework other artists' music forever, but is refreshingly honest about why he generates little of his own material.

"I don't enjoy songwriting. I'm not a natural songwriter.

Penny Lancaster and Rod Stewart
I have six kids at home - not all at the same time, thank goodness, as that would drive me up the wall
Rod Stewart, pictured with fiancee Penny Lancaster

"When I get a spare 10 minutes, I don't go, 'Oh, let me go upstairs in the bedroom and write a song.' And I've always been that way.

He has not been composing "at all" in recent times, he says.

"I was writing songs up until the early 90s and not getting a great deal of response, to be honest with you, from record sales or radio. Maybe the craft has left me, I don't know."

But in terms of hearing new music, Stewart manages to stay in touch, thanks to his children.

"I loved the Killers' song When We Were Young.

"I have enough music coming out of my kids' bedrooms when I'm at home. I have six kids at home - not all at the same time, thank goodness, as that would drive me up the wall," he jokes.

"I haven't a clue how to download but my 19-year-old daughter does it for me.

"She's the one that turns me on to new stuff, and says, 'Dad, listen to this.' So I say to her to download it, ask how much it's going to cost, and she does it for me."

'Wonderful' shows

Stewart appeared as a mentor on TV reality shows The X Factor and American Idol in 2006, but admits that this was mostly a promotional vehicle for him: "I had a new album coming out and I wanted to promote it."

Rod Stewart in the early 1970s
Stewart enjoyed his first solo number one, Maggie May, in 1971
But still he was "very, very nervous" about appearing on The X Factor, he admits.

"I never used to watch American Idol or The X Factor until I was on them.

"Now I've got to watch them to see who's going to win. It just gets you wrapped up in there and carries you away. It's just wonderful.

"I sometimes think the judges are more entertaining than the talent - Simon [Cowell] especially. He speaks volumes for what people really think."

Stewart rounds off by discussing whether, after almost four decades in the public eye, he will reinvent his musical style in the near future. It appears not.

"I became famous, I think, really because of the interpretation of other people's songs, way back when, and that's what I enjoy the most. And I'm a lazy bugger."

Rod Stewart divorce is finalised
30 Nov 06 |  Entertainment
Rod and Penny christen baby son
25 Jun 06 |  Edinburgh and East
In Pictures: Rod Stewart at 60
10 Jan 05 |  In Pictures
Pop Idol reject's deal with Rod
25 Nov 02 |  England
Cancer threatened to ruin Rod's voice
03 Feb 01 |  Entertainment
Rod Stewart marriage split
08 Jan 99 |  Entertainment


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