Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b 10 Jan. '45, London) Singer, songwriter; one of the biggest rock stars of the '70s, Sam Cooke was an important influence. Bummed around Europe as a teenager; worked in UK with Long John Baldry, made singles '64; founder member of Steampacket '66 with Baldry, Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll '77; moved on to Shotgun Express, with Mick Fleetwood. Joined Jeff Beck for Truth and Beck-O-La '68--9, by now a recognized and distinctive singer; one-off solo single 'In A Broken Dream' as Python Lee Jackson was reissued '72 for a no. 3 UK hit. Solo career commenced with An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down '69 and Gasoline Alley '70, well-liked by critics, public still not sure. Joined reconstituted Small Faces with Ronnie Lane, Ron Wood, Ian MacLagen and Kenny Jones; called the Faces, they were one of the best-loved bands of the early '70s while Stewart had a parallel solo career which caused some friction, but one of the world's top live pop acts never realized its potential on record, while Stewart's Every Picture Tells A Story '71 was an enormous success incl. 'Maggie May'; album and single were simultaneous no. ones both UK and USA. Never A Dull Moment '72 yielded UK no. 1 in 'You Wear It Well'. Sing It Again Rod '73 was a premature Greatest Hits set; Smiler '74 boasted a good clutch of covers of Cooke and Bob Dylan; he quit the Faces '75. By Atlantic Crossing '75 he was a bona-fide superstar: romance with Britt Eckland found him in gossip columns and the album incl. Dobie Gray's 'Drift Away', the Isley Bros' 'This Old Heart Of Mine'; but the Sutherland Bros' 'Sailing' gave him another UK no. 1, became his anthem (and theme of BBC TV's Sailor). Appositely titled A Night On The Town '76 revealed that jetsetting was affecting his work, though it incl. a fine cover of Cat Stevens's 'The First Cut Is The Deepest'; his own 'The Killing Of Georgie' was a big US/UK hit. Foot Loose And Fancy Free '77 saw switch to lucrative disco market with hit 'Hot Legs'; Blondes Have More Fun '78 was a big success with 'Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?' a US/UK no. 1, but smelled of self-parody. Greatest Hits Volumes I And II '79 filled a gap, incl. such '70s hits as Jimi Hendrix's 'Angel', Carole King's 'Oh No, Not My Baby' and 'I Don't Want To Talk About It'. Foolish Behaviour '80 seemed further proof of decline, though 'Passion' was a big hit. Tonight I'm Yours '81 and two-disc Absolutely Live were predictable; his own writing seemed to have deteriorated, but Body Wishes '83 was an encouraging filip, with his own 'Sweet Surrender' and 'Baby Jane', a surprise no. 1 in UK. His '83 concerts in UK were a triumph: he had lost none of his charm as a live performer. Camouflage did little to recover his reputation with critics; Every Beat of My Heart '86 (called Rod Stewart in Billboard) had an effective cover of the Beatles' 'In My Life', while his own title track easily recalled 'Sailing'. In mid-'86 he re- formed Faces for one-off London gig as benefit for Ronnie Lane, a victim of multiple sclerosis, with Duran Duran's Andy Taylor standing in on bass. His creativity may have nose-dived or perhaps his gravelly voice and 'Jack the Lad' persona haven't changed as much as his critics have. Out Of Order '88 was no. 20 USA, but Vagabond Heart '91 made no. 10, helped by no. 5 hit 'Rhythm Of My Heart'; live Unplugged And Seated '93 had guest Ronnie Wood, a strong no. 2 album showing public affection undimmed. A Spanner In The Works '95 on WB had slick production and unmemorable songs; If I Fall In Love Tonight '96 was mostly reworks of hits but at least had a decent title song, written for him by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. When We Were The New Boys '98 attempted to recapture his best period and almost worked. Storyteller '89 was a four-CD anthology '64--90; Downtown Train '90 compiled twelve hits. He has six children by three women, has lived in Los Angeles for many years and is still mad about football (soccer).