I have a very lively and colorful show. It’s two hours of hits and the music speaks for itself
Many times I have found myself at a point where history meets modern times. A while back, as I started to prepare for the post you are reading now, I came to that point once again. I was reviewing information about British rock singer and songwriter, Sir Roderick David Stewart, informally known worldwide as Rod Stewart. Stewart is enjoying a music career that is older than I am. He started his journey back in 1961. The man has survived major changes over more than a half century of musical history, and he’s still performing.
The quote above sums up the career of Rod Stewart. Years back I spoke with a concert promoter about the differences he noticed between artists of yesterday and today. He said that the artist of yesterday would give the audience a show filled with all of their hit music and new material. A two-hour show was not unusual. However, in modern times we get much less of a show in time and content. Therefore, today it’s rare to attend the two-hour show, unless the artist is a bit older than most in the music industry. Why do Stewart and other older entertainers give their audience so much more than modern performers? Perhaps there are hints in Rod Stewart’s background that might give us insight into why he has enjoyed a long and successful career in music.
Stewart’s 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, and then they moved to Highgate. He came after an eight-year gap following his youngest sibling; he was born at home during World War II. The family was neither affluent nor poor; Stewart was spoiled as the youngest, and has called his childhood “fantastically happy”. His father retired from the building trade at age 65, buying a newsagent’s shop on the Archway Road when Stewart was in his early teens; the family lived over the shop.
The family was mostly focused on football; Stewart’s father had played in a local amateur team and managed some teams 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. Stewart was the most talented footballer in the family and was a strong supporter of Arsenal F.C. then. Combining natural athleticism with near-reckless aggression, he became captain of the school football team and played for Middlesex Schoolboys as centre-half.
Interestingly, Rod Stewart was also introduced to music through his family. The family was 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. Other entertainers were influenced by Jolson’s style, but Stewart would later discover and admire musicians with different styles. 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”; the first record he bought was Eddie Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody”.
The seventy-two year old singer got his career start in 1961, and he has not looked back since. Guitarist Jeff Beck recruited Stewart for his new post-Yardbirds venture, and in February 1967, Stewart joined the Jeff Beck Group as vocalist and sometime songwriter. This would become the big break of his early career. I became aware of Rod Stewart in the mid 1970’s at a very high point in his solo career. In fact, I fondly remember my high school band playing one of his biggest hits, Do you think I’m sexy. From that point forward there were so many hits that it’s hard to remember them all. However, Rod Stewart easily became a household name around the world.
At this point I will tell you why I chose to feature Rod Stewart this week. I received information about an upcoming tour this summer featuring Stewart along with very special guest Cyndi Lauper. Produced by Live Nation, the tour begins Thursday, July 6, 2017 right here in South Florida and includes stops in New York, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Texas and more. Stewart and Lauper have been awarded nearly every industry award and honor for their incomparable catalog of hits and activism, among them Grammy and American Music Awards, two inductions into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the ASCAP Founders Award for songwriting and a knighthood for Stewart; and an Emmy and Tony Award for Lauper.
Can you imagine Rod Stewart on stage performing many of his greatest hit songs? Some of you who are reading this post do not need to imagine, because you have attended one or several of his shows. I have seen footage from some of the shows and the audience appears to enjoy it immensely. As I scan the crowd singing along with every song, it looks like such a festive atmosphere. Before I close this post, I’ll provide a list of dates and venues for any of you who might like to join the party with Rod Stewart.
July 6 Hard Rock Casino – Hollywood, Fla.*
July 8 Amalie Arena – Tampa, Fla.*
July 9 Tuscaloosa Amphitheater – Tuscaloosa, Ala.*
July 12 BB&T Pavilion – Camden, N.J.
July 14 Darlings Waterfront Pavilion – Bangor, Maine
July 15 Xfinity Center – Mansfield, Mass.
July 18 Jones Beach Theater – Wantagh, N.Y.
July 19 Jiffy Lube Live – Bristow, Va.
July 21 Bethel Woods Center for the Arts – Bethel, N.Y.
July 22 Saratoga Performing Arts Center – Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
July 25 PNC Bank Arts Center – Holmdel, N.J.
July 28 Blossom Music Center – Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
July 29 CMAC PAC – Rochester, N.Y.*
Aug. 1 DTE Energy Music Theater – Clarkston, Mich.
Aug. 4 Riverbend Music Center – Cincinnati, Ohio
Aug. 5 Hollywood Casino Amphitheater – Tinley Park, Ill.
Aug. 11 Verizon Theater – Dallas, Texas
Aug.12 Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land – Houston, Texas
* Tickets for Hollywood, FL (July 7); Tampa, FL (July 8); Tuscaloosa, AL (July 9) and Rochester, NY (July 29) are available at www.ticketmaster.com
photo by: Doug Sonders