Things Rod Stewart's Biggest Fans Only Know About The Star

"Wake up, Maggie, I think I got somethin' to say to you..." When you hear those classic lyrics come barreling out of your radio speakers, delivered in that unique, gravelly yet soulful voice, you know exactly who it is: the inimitable Sir Rod Stewart. Of course, he hadn't yet achieved knighthood when that rock radio staple was released in 1971; he was still tearing up the road as well as various and sundry hotel rooms as lead singer for legendary British band Faces, also featuring soon-to-be Rolling Stone Ron Wood. Throughout his career, Stewart has used his prodigious vocal talents to conquer one musical genre after another, from raucous barroom rock to disco to radio-friendly '80s synth pop to The Great American Songbook.

Rod Stewart's life and career have always been permeated by myth and contradiction. The flamboyant, prototypical classic rock powerhouse who was also an influence on rock 'n' roll orthodoxy-hating punk musicians. The notorious hard-partier and sex symbol who's also a dedicated family man and enthusiastic model-train hobbyist. Concert attendance record-breaker, a bit of an outlaw, and always nattily attired, Sir Rod Stewart is a fascinating character. Read on and take a closer look at this music legend to discover things that Rod Stewart's biggest fans only know about.

Rod Stewart's brushes with the British Invasion

Rod Stewart's ascent to stardom happened in tandem with many musical acts that were strongly associated with the British Invasion phenomenon. Per The New York Times, his singing career kicked off in the early 1960s after British blues-rock singer Long John Baldry discovered a 19-year-old Stewart and invited him to sing with his group, Long John Baldry and the Hoochie Coochie Men. Stewart soon found himself in another band with Baldry called Steampacket. Stewart notes in "Rod: The Autobiography" that the band was managed by British blues impresario Giorgio Gomelsky — the same person who helped launch the careers of revered British bands like The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds. Steampacket also shared billing with some of England's hottest young rock talent. As reported by UK Rock Festivals, Steampacket played The 5th National Jazz & Blues Festival alongside noted British Invasion stalwarts like The Animals, The Who, and The Moody Blues.

In fact, Steampacket had the chase to tour the United States supporting The Animals, but Stewart writes in "Rod: The Autobiography" that Baldry turned down the opportunity. Stewart laments of Steampacket, "The problem was, no matter how hot we were as an act — and we could always be blisteringly hot — in the end we were always a covers band, an imitation of something better." Soon, the band broke up, and while true fame eluded Stewart during the British Invasion years, he'd soon find fame singing in bands like The Jeff Beck Group and Faces.

The charitable bent of Do You Think I'm Sexy

Like many rockers in the late '70s, Rod Stewart went disco. Bands like The Rolling Stones, KISS, Blondie, and Queen all got into the groove of the dance music trend. The dominance of the genre threatened to surpass rock music as the world's preferred sonic confection and the rockers knew it. Stewart cheekily lampooned his predicament by penning the song "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy." Song co-writer Duane Hitching said of the song to Rock United, "['Do Ya Think I'm Sexy'] was a spoof on guys from the 'cocaine lounge lizards' of the 'Saturday Night Fever' days. We Rock & Roll guys thought we were dead meat when that movie and the Bee Gees came out."

The performance of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" on the music charts was hardly something to joke about. The song spent four weeks atop Billboard's Hot 100 chart in 1978 and 1979 and has been certified platinum by the RIAA. But it turns out Stewart ripped off his ode to disco from another song. In conversation with Nile Rogers on "Deep Hidden Meaning," Sir Rod admitted to lifting the chorus melody from "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" from Brazilian musician Jorge Ben Jor. As part of his settlement with Jor, Stewart donated his song royalties to UNICEF. It might not be sexy to steal, but it is attractive to know that when Stewart was in the wrong, he did something right. 

Sex became tedious for Rod Stewart

Even a rock star with staggering sexual charisma and experience like Rod Stewart just wants someone to love. Rod detailed his youthful erotic escapades to the Daily Mail, where he said, "There was a period in my life — and it wasn't a prolonged one, maybe just a few years — where it was a bit 'one in, one out.'" He cycled through girlfriends and sexual parters with little care, but eventually he grew tired. Stewart elaborated on his predicament when he said, "I wanted to be in love. I wanted something special. After a while it was sad, it was actually sad."

Surprisingly, the legendary Lothario revealed to The Telegraph, "In fact, sex was always too much for me, it was always there, and it became boring. There were a lot of beautiful women, but we had nothing to say at the end of the evening." He was in serious relationships with beauties like Britt Ekland and Kelly Emberg, and he married Alana Stewart and Rachel Hunter. However, Rod's relationship with model Penny Lancaster proved to be the one. The couple started dating in 1999 and got married in 2007. Upon renewing their vows in 2017, Rod gushed to Hello!, "Love means many things to many people but to me it's wanting to share everything with the one you love and I love Penny more now than ever, if that is at all possible."

Rod Stewart's surprising influence on punk rock

Rod Stewart's brand of glitzed-out soulful rock bravado seems extremely far removed from the gritty, DIY ethos of punk rock, but surprisingly, he had a strong influence on the genre. Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones has an outspoken admiration for Sir Rod and has cited him as a major influence on his life and career. Jones' autobiography, "Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol" has a chapter titled "In Rod We Trust," in which he chronicles his heavy Stewart fan phase. Jones loved Stewart's band Faces, but digging glamorous rock hitmakers publicly didn't mesh well with The Sex Pistols anti-establishment image. In "Lonely Boy," Jones writes about his stealthy Faces admiration, "The Sex Pistols, they would never really say the Faces, because it wouldn't be considered cool enough, but we took a lot from them, not just at the beginning when we were trying to find our way, but all the way through the band."

Ironically, it was a Rod Stewart song that kept The Sex Pistols from topping the UK Official Singles Chart with their influential song "God Save The Queen." Punks might not have loved Rod — at least publicly — but he's grateful for their attitude. He told The Guardian, "I loved the Sex Pistols and thank them for giving Bowie and Elton and me and all the rest of us a good kick up the arse. They showed that music can be made by anybody."

Why Rod Stewart pivoted to pop standards

Rod Stewart has one of the crucial voices in rock and roll history. But in the early 2000s after decades of rocking out, Stewart traded in his lycra leopard pants for a demure suit and tie, and pivoted his sound to that of the pre-rock era. In 2002, Stewart released "It Had To Be You: The Great American Songbook," an album featuring covers of classic songs by Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, and other songwriters from the early 20th century. On a 2002 episode of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," Stewart said the songs he selected were all songs that he listened to with his family when he was a child. Those fond memories inspired the track list.

At the time of its release, Stewart told Jay Leno it was back to rock and roll after "It Had To Be You," but success had other plans for Sir Rod. Certified 3x Multi-Platinum by the RIAA, "It Had To Be You" was only the beginning of his artistic exploration of The Great American Songbook. Stewart released four more Great American Songbook albums, including the Billboard 200 topper "Stardust...The Great American Songbook, Volume III" which secured Stewart his only Grammy of his career to date. By 2005, Stewart was ready to explore new sounds. He told Associated Press (via Today), "I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet but it certainly won't be an 'American Songbook No. 5.'"

After cancer, he nearly lost his voice

Rod Stewart faced a serious health scare when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2000, but he chose to keep it private until the following year. Initially reported as a benign vocal nodule, he disclosed his cancer treatment to USA Today, revealing to the publication in 2001, "I had a particularly slow-growing thyroid cancer which was surgically removed, and now I have a clean bill of health." Though he was in the clear, the ordeal gave Stewart pause. "As anyone who has been through this experience knows, when you are so close to something that is potentially life-threatening, you tend to get your life in perspective," he said.

After the procedure, Stewart's road to recovery was slow; it took almost a year for his singing voice to heal and return. Stewart told The Telegraph in 2001, "It only came back to its former glory about four weeks ago, nine months after the operation." The idea that he might lose his voice for good did cross his mind, and he began considering what this might mean for his future. On "Piers Morgan Tonight," Stewart contemplated a life where he couldn't sing. "I was frightened, really scared," he said. "All sorts of thoughts going through my mind, you know, of becoming a landscape gardener." Luckily, Stewart left the topiary arts to the professionals and soon his voice bounced back.

He's an extreme model train enthusiast

Model train sets might be a far cry from sexy rock and roll, but that's fine by Rod Stewart. These days, he leans into being a model train enthusiast. In the past, Stewart was timid about sharing his love of model trains with the public. He told The Telegraph in 2001, "I don't really like to talk about the trains, but it is a fabulous hobby. I gotta tell you, it's three-dimensional. I am building the New York Grand Central around the wartime period in my attic in Beverly Hills." Slowly, he lifted the veil on his beloved pastime. In 2007, he gave Model Railroader an inside glimpse into his hobby and exclaimed, "It means more to me to be on the cover of Model Railroader than to be on the cover of a music magazine."

By 2019, Stewart was a model train superstar. The Associated Press reported on his decades-in-the-making accomplishment, noting that Stewart designed and built it mostly by himself. He even scored the cover of Railway Modeler's December issue to show off the completion of his project. After the magazine was released, radio presenter Jeremy Vine questioned whether or not Stewart's model was a mostly solo endeavor. Stewart actually called into Vine's show to defend his work, and he confirmed he did indeed do most of the work himself. Some guys not only have all the luck, but they also have the creativity and perseverance to see a project through.

His kids have reality TV careers

Rod Stewart has been in fatherhood mode for decades. A dad to eight children, Rod first became a father as a teen and welcomed his youngest child as a sexagenarian. Some of his kids, like Sarah Streeter, live quiet lives away from the spotlight; Rod's youngest child, Aiden Stewart, is too young to leave the nest. However, Sir Rod's other children have pursued their various spotlights. Singing daughter Ruby Stewart, dancer Renee Stewart, hockey player Liam Stewart, and model Alistar Wallace Stewart are all in the public eye. But his two children with ex-wife Alana Stewart, Kimberly Stewart and Sean Stewart, have also sought fame, but via an avenue that many celebrity children take: reality television.

In the '00s, both Kimberly and Sean appeared on reality TV series with mild success. In 2007, Kimberly cashed in on her celebutante status by starring in her own reality competition show "Living with...Kimberly Stewart." Sean, meanwhile, starred on several reality programs, including the nepo baby spectacular "Sons of Hollywood" and "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew," not to mention appearances on "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and "The Hills: New Beginnings." Kimberly and Sean even combined their reality TV forces in 2015 for "Stewarts & Hamiltons." Rod supported their endeavor, posting an adorable throwback on his Instagram encouraging fans to tune into the antics. Just don't expect dad to make a cameo. He told the Associated Press (via Today), "When it comes to reality shows — no, I'm not doing that."

Setting the record straight on Rod Stewart myths

Rod Stewart's debauched behavior is the stuff of rock and roll legend. The mythology around his alleged capers has loomed large over his stardom for decades. Some of his antics, like being banned from the Holiday Inn for wrecking up hotel rooms, are true. On "The Kelly Clarkson Show," Stewart confirmed that he was indeed persona non grata with the budget hotel chain. He told British GQ of his penchant for destruction, "The hotel people looked down on us, and it was old fashioned revenge," describing the mayhem as, "Doors off hinges. Beds in the lift. Fabulous."

Other Stewart legends have proven to be false. As a guest on "Katie" in 2012, Stewart shut down several long-standing rumors about his life. For one, he never worked as a teenage grave-digger, but he did confirm he worked at a cemetery. He also set the record straight on a notorious, sexually graphic tale that has followed him for decades, shutting down gossip that he supposedly needed his stomach pumped after engaging in oral sex with a group of sailors. He told "Katie" host Katie Couric the story was total bunk, a rumor crafted by a disgruntled former publicist. And as for the story of being an apprentice footballer, he told The Guardian, "I didn't even come close. I was good but I wasn't good enough."

His failed DIY pothole experiment

Rod Stewart is the proud son of a plumber — as he sings in his song "Touchline" — so it's only natural that the rock legend is willing to get his hands dirty when something needs fixing. In 2022, Stewart posted a video of himself on Instagram fixing potholes on a road near his Essex home. Kitted out in a yellow safety vest, Stewart can be seen shoveling gravel, working to repair the damaged path. In the video, Stewart stated, "The other day, there was an ambulance with a burst tire. My Ferrari can't go through here at all." Won't somebody please think of Sir Rod's Ferrari?

In the wake of Stewart's pothole debacle, local authorities discouraged such public works vigilantism. Per the BBC, Essex City Council cabinet member Lee Scott warned, "You can't take matters into your own hands. People must always report potholes to the council and we will fix anything that's dangerous." He further chastised Stewart's behavior and said, "All road repairs have to be done to a professional level or the person doing it could become liable for any problems or accidents." Being a wealthy, Ferrari-owning rock star doesn't shield one from bureaucratic shame.

His soccer ball bit has led to lawsuits

It's no secret that Rod Stewart is a massive soccer fan. Stewart has integrated his love of The Beautiful Game with his rock and roll life for years. Per "Rod: The Autobiography," he's been kicking soccer balls from the stage into the crowd since his days with Faces. As he once told the Las Vegas Sun, "The show wouldn't be the show if I stopped kicking out those footballs." It's safe to say many fans would be incredibly disappointed if Stewart neglected to bend out a few balls during "Hot Legs," but for some concertgoers, the ritual has become dangerous.

In 2014, the Associated Press reported Mostafa Kashe Stewart filed a lawsuit against Stewart after allegedly being struck in the face by a soccer ball kicked off the stage by Stewart during a Caesar's Palace concert, resulting in a broken nose. Per the Las Vegas Review Journal, Sir Rod was sued again in 2019, this time by Glen Garafano who claimed to be injured after fans clamored for a soccer ball launched into the crowd. And even before Stewart's potentially hazardous Las Vegas residency, he had been sued by another concertgoer, who claimed to have had their marriage ruined because of a hand injury sustained from an errant soccer ball at a 1989 show (via Weird Universe).

His relationship with longtime frenemy Elton John

Rod Stewart and Elton John's frenemy status is one for the books. The musical superstars' relationship dates back to the 1960s, where they both shared a musical mentor in British blues star Long John Baldry, who according to British GQ, christened Stewart "Phyllis" and John "Sharon." Per Billboard, their feuding started in the late '70s, when John cheekily jabbed Stewart's Blondes 'ave More Fun Tour billboards with his own "But Brunettes Make more money" counter billboard. In 2019's "Me," John writes their pranks peaked in the '80s, when John ordered Stewart's promotional blimp shot down.

Their frenemy status tipped into pure enemy mode in the late 2010s. On a 2018 episode of "Watch What Happens Live," Stewart shared his take on John announcing his retirement. Stewart quipped, "I've never spoken about retirement, and if I do retire, I won't make an announcement. I'll just fade away," adding of John's decision, "it's dishonest. It's not rock and roll." In his aforementioned autobiography, John fired back at Stewart: "I certainly didn't feel like I needed a lecture on the feral spirit of rock and roll from someone who'd spent most of the last decade crooning his way through the Great American Songbook and 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.'" But fear not: On a January 2021 episode of "The Harry Redknapp Podcast," Stewart shared that he regrets his comments on "WWHL" and that he and John are on friendly terms once more. 

Rod Stewart's encounters with the law

Rod Stewart has a reputation for being a hard-partying rock and roll star, so it's not particularly shocking to know he's found himself in trouble with the law several times throughout his life. Before fame and fortune, Rod was a burgeoning folk singer who hitchhiked around Paris and Barcelona in the early 1960s. However, this adventure ended abruptly: As he details in "Rod: The Autobiography," he was deported from Spain after he and some travel mates got in trouble for sleeping outdoors. But it wasn't all bad, as he took his first airplane trip on the way back to England.

Flash forward to the 2010s, where Rod and his son Sean Stewart find themselves in hot legal waters. Per The New York Times, both elder and younger Stewarts faced battery charges after getting into a dust-up with a security guard at The Breakers luxury resort in Palm Beach, Florida. In 2021, Rod and Sean pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of simple battery. The Stewarts' attorney Guy Fronstin told the BBC, "Instead, Sir Rod Stewart decided to enter a plea to avoid the inconvenience and unnecessary burden on the court and the public that a high-profile proceeding would cause."

Rod Stewart's record-breaking concert

From dingy nightclubs to cavernous sports stadiums, by the 1980s, Rod Stewart had performed in them all. As big a star as Stewart was during the decade, it's shocking to learn that he didn't perform at one of its preeminent music events. 1985's Live Aid concert saw a who's who of music superstars perform in the charity event, including Elton John, Queen, Madonna, U2, Run DMC, and more. Conspicuously absent was Rod Stewart, who by the mid '80s was a chart-topping global music star singer. It was only in 2021 that Stewart learned why he didn't grace the Live Aid stage. He told the BBC, "We actually were supposed to do it, but a few guys in the band told me that our ex-manager turned it down because I wasn't getting the right news coverage." A missed opportunity for Stewart, for sure.

Although he didn't get to rock out for the thousands that attended the two Live Aid concerts in Philadelphia and London, Stewart got the performance opportunity of a lifetime in 1994. According to Guinness World Records, Stewart's New Year's Eve concert in Rio de Janeiro that year drew an astounding 4.2 million people, the largest free concert attendance in history. Never mind that this figure includes folks who just went for the fireworks. We like to think most showed up to see Stewart strut his stuff.