Roderick David "Rod" Stewart, CBE (born 10 January 1945) is a British singer-songwriter and one of the best selling artists of all time, having sold over 100 million records worldwide.
In the UK, he has had six consecutive number one albums, and his tally of 62 hit singles include 31 that reached the top 10, six of which gained the number one position. He has had 16 top ten singles in the U.S, with four of these reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
With his distinctive raspy singing voice, Stewart came to prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s with The Jeff Beck Group and then with theFaces. He launched his solo career in 1969 with his début album An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down (US: The Rod Stewart Album). His early albums were a fusion of rock, folk music, soul music and R&B. His aggressive blues work with The Jeff Beck Group and the Faces influenced heavy metal genres. From the late 1970s through the 1990s, Stewart's music often took on a New Wave or soft rock/MOR quality, and in the early 2000s he released a series of successful albums interpreting the Great American Songbook.
In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked him the 17th most successful artist on the "The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists". A Grammy and Brit Award recipient, he was voted at No. 33 in Q Magazine's list of the top 100 Greatest Singers of all time, and No. 59 on Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Singers of all time. As a solo artist, Stewart was inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2006 and was inducted a second time into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of Faces, in 2012
Roderick David Stewart was born on 10 January 1945 at 507 Archway Road, Highgate, North London, the youngest of five children of Robert Stewart and Elsie Gilbart. His father was Scottish and had been a master builder in Leith, Edinburgh, while Elsie was English and had grown up in Upper Holloway in North London. Married in 1928, the couple had two sons and two daughters while living in Scotland, then they moved to Highgate. Stewart came after an eight-year gap following his youngest sibling; he was born at home during World War II.[nb 1]
The family was neither affluent nor poor, and by all accounts Stewart was a spoiled child as the youngest; Stewart has called his childhood "fantastically happy". He had an undistinguished record at Highgate Primary School and failed the eleven plus exam. He then attended the William Grimshaw Secondary Modern School in Hornsey. His father retired from the building trade at age 65, then opened a newsagent's shop on the Archway Road when Stewart was in his early teens; the family lived over the shop. Stewart's main hobby was railway modelling.
The Stewart family was mostly focused on football; Robert had played on a local amateur side and managed some as well, and one of Stewart's earliest memories were the pictures of Scottish players such as George Young and Gordon Smith that his brothers had on the wall. Rod was the most talented footballer in the Stewart family and was a strong supporter of Arsenal F.C.. Combining natural athleticism with near-reckless aggression, he became captain of the school football team and played for Middlesex Schoolboys as centre-half.
The family were also great fans of the singer Al Jolson and would sing and play his hits. Stewart collected his records and saw his films, read books about him, and was influenced by his performing style and attitude towards his audience. His introduction to rock and roll was hearing Little Richard's 1956 hit "The Girl Can't Help It" and seeing Bill Haley & His Comets in concert. His father bought him a guitar in January 1959; the first song he learned was the folk tune "It Takes a Worried Man to Sing a Worried Song" and the first record he bought was Eddie Cochran's "C'mon Everybody". In 1960, he joined a skiffle group with schoolfriends called the Kool Kats, playing Lonnie Donegan and Chas McDevitt hits.
Stewart left school at age 15 and worked briefly as a silk screen printer. Spurred on by his father, his ambition was to become a professional footballer. In summer 1960, he went for trials at Brentford F.C., a Third Division club at the time. However, contrary to longstanding popular belief, Stewart states in his 2012 autobiography that he was never signed to the club and that the club never called him back after his trials.[nb 2] In any case, regarding possible career options, Stewart concluded, "Well, a musician's life is a lot easier and I can also get drunk and make music, and I can't do that and play football. I plumped for music ... They're the only two things I can do actually: play football and sing.