“'Spoiled rotten' tends to be shorthand for my childhood,” Rod Stewart writes in his autobiography. “I object. There wasn’t much to spoil anyone with.”
Rod’s self-effacing wit rips at these pages and will leave you adoring this aspiring bad boy or budding lothario, as he referred to himself in his youth. It wasn’t always easy for this lady-killer who was the son of a plumber. In the beginning, a record label said that his voice was too rough. “And had a bit of gravel in it. And I was not pretty enough to make it as a solo singer," Rod writes. As to being spoiled, it was his "mum" who did it to him.
“My mum used to make rabbit stew and the heart was a real treat and was cut into fours and shared with the children. Once I came along, it was given to me.”
Mrs. Stewart also drank gin and tonic while her husband did not drink at all. He gambled on the horses. Then Mrs. Stewart burned Rod’s smelly beatnik clothing just as she had her husband’s football boots when she wanted him to stop playing football. Hence Rod went from being a smelly beatnik to a mod -- “a guy you couldn’t get out of the bathroom." he writes.
In 1964, his mum made him cheese sandwiches to take to his first recording session. Mrs. Stewart reminded me of Fanny Mailer who took Norman freshly laundered white shirts to
Harvard on the milk train.
“My lyrics I drew from experiences in the past. 'Cindy’s Lament' is about trying to impress a girl from a social class above mine. A big theme for me." So big he fell in love with Britt Ekland after spotting her on the arm of an elegant Peter Sellers whose lifestyle Rod emulated. Rod also was in awe of George Hamilton and his savoir faire. Enter Alana Hamilton, wife number one.
Rod is loved, I would suspect, because he does not try to be something he’s not. Though when he was with Britt and Alana, his need for Hollywood’s approval clouded this thinking and lyrics. Hence we were given the vacuous, "Do You Think I’ m Sexy?”
Originally, Rod aspired to sound like Sam Cooke in “You Send Me” while he was in awe of the timbre of Dylan’s music and mystery of his lyrics which drew Rod to America and
its freedom. “I was confident that I could sing a song, but how to occupy it? To make it my own? I was blessed with distinctiveness,” Rod writes.
Rod Stewart has had -- and that is the correct verb -- many women, but none so fair as Penny Lancaster who sounds down to earth and humble enough for the naughty Grammy Award
winner. She can allow him center stage and not muck it up by trying to climb up there with him or cry at a distance that her life has grown far apart from Rod and his entourage. Seems this is the fate of the women who have tried to love him. And there have been so many.
Alana, the first Mrs.S.,was attracted to the material trappings of Rod who was afraid of women who might love his stuff more than him. Rod writes that he was haunted by the thought, "Does
this person really like me or the stuff that surrounds me?” Alas he forced Alana to sign a killer prenup whereupon he would give her a meager $100,000 in the event of divorce which proved to
be an event because after she gave birth to two of his children, they divorced. Rod writes he gave her a home in Brentwood. Was the down payment $100,000?
Rod, who once gave Elton John a $10k refrigerator for Christmas when Elton gave Rod
a Rembrandt, was never known for his generosity. “Call me cheap,” he said on NBC’s "Extra." But when it came to his unfair treatment of Alana, the mother of two of his children, in hindsight, it could have been a fair exchange. During their divorce Alana would give lavish parties for her celebrity friends in his house while Rod lived with band member Jim Creegan in the Hollywood Hills.
Rod, who suffered from a gigantic ego and low self esteem, adored the attention and approval of Alana’s celebrity friends so it was shall we say a meeting a similar values. -- or lack thereof. Their marriage had been doomed.
“I’ve heard stuff about the shrewd business-like mind that I’ve allegedly been able to call upon in my career. Mostly it comes from not being taken for a mug,” Rod writes. His mum thought he was too young to marry Alana, but approved of all of the women after her.
Rod will not admit he is an alcoholic or addict and claims he uses drugs only for recreation. Then on "Extra" he admitted at one time he and Ron Wood for comic relief made a suppository out of cocaine but the gag backfired. Still Rod insists he is not an alcoholic. Yawn.
Then there were Kelly Emberg who bore Rod one child and the New Zealand beauty Rachel Hunter who after two children left Rod for her own life. Now Rod has married a much younger
Penny. “Her face has kindness and a real and obvious warmth in it,” Rod writes as to why he was attracted to the last and youngest Mrs. Stewart. (Rod is 67, the same age as Penny’s father)
In the late 1990s Rod almost lost his voice when a cancerous tumor was discovered on his thyroid. It was removed and he didn’t sing for six months of course, with the fear that he might
never warble again. But rocker Rod survived that blitzkrieg.
Perhaps the most difficult thing for him to overcome was the damage to his career of the atrocious ditty, “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” It was written in his most hedonistic days with Alana
and reflects his spiritual and material conflict at that time. While Alana was searching for a higher existence, he ridiculed her visits to support groups. Alas, his lyrics were the height of his superficiality.
But after his bout with cancer he is back on track and no longer writing bubble gum lyrics but seeking the mellifluous blues strains from the days of The Faces and songs like "Sailing." May Rod Stewart remain happy and no longer get that urge to regress to being the Lothario that he once was. and continue to sing us all into the hereafter.