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Date of Birth: 10/01/1945
Biography: Roderick David "Rod" Stewart, CBE is a British singer-songwriter and musician, born and raised in North London, England and currently residing in Epping. He is of Scottish and English ancestry.
With his distinctive raspy singing voice, Stewart came to prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s with The Jeff Beck Group and then Faces. He launched his solo career in 1969 with his debut album An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down (US: The Rod Stewart Album). His work with The Jeff Beck Group and Faces proved to be influential on the formation of the punk rock and heavy metal genres.
With his career in its fifth decade, Stewart has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best selling artists of all time. In the UK, he has garnered 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. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked him the 17th most successful artist on the "The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists". 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. In 1994, Stewart was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Roderick David Stewart was born in Highgate, North London, the youngest of the 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, half an hour after a German V-2 missile warhead fell on the local Highgate police station.
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 1961 he joined on as an apprentice with Brentford F.C., a Third Division club at the time. However, he disliked the early morning travel to West London and the daily assignment to clean the first team's boots. His playing effectiveness at centre-half was hindered by his slight build - 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) but only 9 stone (130 lb; 57 kg) - and he pushed himself so much that he sometimes vomited at the side of the pitch. After up to two months of play in pre-season fixtures, Stewart left the team, to the great disappointment of his father. Stewart later reflected that: "I had the skill but not the enthusiasm." 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."
Stewart worked in the family shop and as a newspaper delivery boy, then as a grave digger at Highgate Cemetery, partly to face a childhood fear of death. He worked in a North Finchley funeral parlour and as a fence erector and sign writer.
In 1962 he had his first serious relationship, with London art student Suzannah Boffey (and a friend of future model and actress Chrissie Shrimpton); he moved to a bed-sit in Muswell Hill to be near her. She became pregnant, but neither Rod nor his family wanted him to enter marriage; the baby girl was given for adoption and Rod's and Suzannah's relationship ended.
In 1962, Stewart began hanging around folk singer Wizz Jones, busking at Leicester Square and other London spots. Stewart took up playing the then-fashionable harmonica. On several trips over the next 18 months Jones and Stewart took their act to Brighton and then to Paris, sleeping under bridges over the River Seine, and then finally to Barcelona. Finally this resulted in Stewart being rounded up and deported from Spain for vagrancy during 1963.
In the spring of 1962, Stewart joined The Ray Davies Quartet, later known as the successful British band The Kinks, as their lead singer. He had known three of their members at William Grimshaw School and at the time, Ray Davies was uncomfortable with the lead vocalist role. He performed with the group on at least one occasion, but was soon dropped due to complaints about his voice from then-drummer John Start's mother as well as musical differences with the band and (as Pete Quaife later recalled) Davies' fear that Stewart would take over.
In 1963, Stewart adopted the Mod lifestyle and look, and began fashioning the spiky rooster hairstyle that would become his trademark. (It originated from large amounts of his sisters' hair lacquer, backcombing, and his hands holding it in place to protect it from the winds of the Highgate Underground station. Disillusioned by rock and roll, he saw Otis Redding perform in concert and began listening to Sam Cooke records; he became fascinated by rhythm and blues and soul music.
After returning to London, Stewart joined a rhythm and blues group, the Dimensions, in October 1963 as a harmonica player and part-time vocalist. It was his first professional job as a musician, although Stewart was still living at home and working in his brother's painting and picture frame shop. A somewhat more established singer from Birmingham, Jimmy Powell, then hired the group a few weeks later, and it became known as Jimmy Powell & the Five Dimensions, with Stewart being relegated to harmonica player. The group performed weekly at the famed Studio 51 club on Great Newport Street in London, where The Rolling Stones often headlined; this was Stewart's entrée into the thriving London R & B scene, and his harmonica playing improved in part from watching Mick Jagger on stage. Relations soon broke down between Powell and Stewart over roles within the group and Stewart departed.
In May 2000, Stewart was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, for which he underwent surgery in the same month. It had been previously reported he suffered from a benign vocal cord nodule. Besides being a major health scare, the resulting surgery also threatened his famous voice, and he had to re-learn how to sing. Since then he has been active in raising funds for The City of Hope Foundation charity to find cures for all forms of cancer, especially those affecting children.
Stewart is a keen model railway enthusiast. His 23 x 124-foot HO scale layout in his Los Angeles home is modelled after the New York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroads during the 1940s. Called the Three Rivers City, the layout was featured in the cover story of the December 2007 and December 2010 issues of Model Railroader Magazine. In the 2007 article Stewart said that he would rather be in a model railroad magazine than a music magazine. His passion for the hobby has been cited as contributing to the end of his second marriage. He has a second layout at his UK home. That layout is based on Britain's East Coast Main Line. Stewart's home is located in Epping, Essex on part of the Copped Hall estate.
A keen car enthusiast, Stewart owns one of the 400 Ferrari Enzos. In 1982, Stewart was car-jacked on Los Angeles' Sunset Boulevard, while he was parking his $50,000 Porsche. The car was subsequently recovered.
Stewart was estimated to have a fortune of £115 million in the Sunday Times Rich List of 2011, making him one of the 20 richest people in the British music industry.
Between 1975 and 1977 Stewart had a relationship with actress Britt Ekland.
His first marriage was to Alana Hamilton in 1979, they divorced 1984, after having a daughter Kimberley (born 1979) and son Sean (born 1980). Alana was the ex-wife of actor George Hamilton.
Stewart had a relationship with model Kelly Emberg between 1983 and 1990, during which they had a daughter Ruby (born 1987).
His second marriage was to model Rachel Hunter in 1990, they separated in 1999 and later divorced in 2006. They had 2 children, Renee (born 1992) and Liam (born 1994).
Stewart’s third marriage in 2007 was to model Penny Lancaster. They have 2 children Alastair Wallace (born 2005 ) and Aiden (born 2011).
In reference to his divorces, Rod Stewart was once quoted as saying, "Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house."