Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rod Stewart • Early Hits

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With my recent posting featuring Long John Baldry, I was reminded of Rod Stewart. According to Stewart himself, Long John discovered the singer while he was singing , drunkenly, on a train. Like many stories, it might not have been quite that simple. Stewart became interested in a career in music in 1961. He fell in love with the music of Bob Dylan, Ewan MacColl, and Woody Guthrie. Soon, he was hanging out in London, learning to play the harmonica, and playing on the streets for tips. He did the same in Paris. In 1962, he auditioned to sing vocals for the Ray Davies Quartet, but did not get the job. Later, the name was changed to The Kinks. In 1963 he joined The Dimensions, playing the harmonica and sometimes sing lead. Later, The Dimensions were hired by singer Jimmy Powell, and were renamed Jimmy Powell and the Five Dimensions. But this also demoted Rod to harmonica only. But they were booked into Studio 51 in London, where Stewart got to see and learn from the Rolling Stones playing live. Soon Stewart left his band. In January of 1965, a drunken Stewart went to see Cyril Davies and the All Stars, and afterward was playing his harmonica on the platform, when Long John Baldry, then the lead vocalist for the All Stars, heard him play, and invited him to sit in with the band. Not long afterwards, Cyril Davies passed away, and Baldry asked Stewart to join the newly christened band, The Hoochie Coochie Men. Stewart played the harmonica, and was given time to sing, too. He was also part of Steampacket, the band also featuring Baldry, Julie Driscol, and Brian Auger. Soon, Stewart was moving out on his own, working with great guitarist Jeff Beck, and then joined the rock group Faces, featuring Ian McLagan, Ronnie Lane), and Kenney Jones, as well as guitarist Ronnie Wood. Just as Faces were coming together, Rod was also kick starting his solo career.

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Rod Stewart photographed by Chris Walter.

In 1971, Stewart released his second solo album, 'Every Picture Tells A Story', a combination of Rock, Soul, Blues and Folk that seemed to speak to listeners. The album went Platinum in sales in the US as well as topping the Billboard album chart, with the help of a big hit found on the album. "Maggie May" went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and could be heard playing all over radio. Listen and watch as Rod sings about young love and sex with "Maggie May".

In 1972, Stewart released 'Never A Dull Moment', another great collection of music. Stewart himself had a hand in writing four of the nine songs included on the album. The first single off the album, "You Wear It Well", topped the UK charts, and went to #13 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The album was certified Gold in sales, keeping Stewart as an artist who could deliver music making the studio very happy. Here is Rod singing "You Wear It Well".

Stewart's next few album had some success, but it was 'A Night On The Town', Rod's 1976 album that once again had people buying. The album has be certified Double Platinum, on the strength of a great line-up of songs. But the song that caught the attention of the world was "Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright)". The song made it to #5 on the British singles chart, but made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is a sexually suggestive ballad, written by Stewart himself. It also included some whispering from his sexy then-girlfriend, Britt Ekland. HEre is the music video for "Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright)".

In 1977, Stewart released another album that would have more success than anyone dared to dream. 'Foot Loose and Fancy Free' flew up the charts, certified Platinum in the UK, and Triple Platinum in the United States. It went to #1 in the UK and Canada, and #2 in the US on the album charts. At least part of the success but be due to the amazing appeal of "You're In My Heart (The Final Claim)", the song written by Stewart and the first single off the album. The song helped to create a new sound for Stewart, who was coming to be quite the troubadour. Here is Rod singing "You're In My Heart (The Final Claim)".

This was an impress run for the man who debuted as a solo artist just six years before. In fact, it was just over 10 years after being discovered by Long John Baldry on a train platform. For more about Rod Stewart, visit his official website. You can also 'like' Rod's fan page on Facebook. All four songs can be found on 'The Definitive Rod Stewart', available for purchase from iTunes and Amazon.


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