Rod interviewed  on RTE RADIO 1

Rod Stewart, 73, keeps his fashion interesting as he models leopard-print mules that look a size too small

Rod Stewart looked ready to spill out of his stylish mules as he prepared to rock Germany on Tuesday.

Yet despite the overhanging heels, the 73-year-old performer appeared as easy and stylish as ever as he prepared to shake, rattle and roll 17,000 fans at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin.

Incredibly, Rod the Mod is celebrating 50 years since he signed the first contract that put him on the road to enduring stardom. 

Greeting the fans: Rod Stewart recognized fans and well-wishers that gathered outside the Berlin arena where he played to a full house on Tuesday

The mules appeared to be designer and pricey. Why he was wearing a size too small is anyone's guess.

And it echoes what Kanye West did just a week ago with his too-small slides that he said were inspired by the Japanese style of wearing slides.

Rod looked as always dapper in a light checked jacket over a white linen shirt and artfully ripped light khaki jeans and brown belt. 

Overhang: The star appeared to be slipping out of his stylish mules

Looking stylish: The raspy-voiced performer accessorized lightly with a silver bracelet and the protective crucifix he has worn for decades

As always he greeted fans and well-wishers gathered outside the arena with a shout and a cheery wave. 

He bantered with the enthusiastic audience and even tried out a few jokes in German, even if his London accent did not improve the punchlines. 

The lifelong soccer fan could not resist teasing the home crowd about being knocked out of the World Cup in the first rounds.

Reaching out: Rod tours the United States and Canada in October to promote his 30th studio album Blood Red Roses 

He described it as shocking, and then grinned cheekily.  

On stage Rod showed no signs of slowing down. 

The vintage rocker recently teased his friend Sir Elton John after he announced he was on a 300-date 'farewell tour.'  

Rod said he emailed his old frenemy saying, 'What, again?'

Not slowing down. The vintage rocker recently teased his friend Sir Elton John after he announced he was on a 300-date 'farewell tour'

The father-of-eight is promoting his 30th studio album, Blood Red Roses, which is full of his own self-reflective and poignant songs as well as a handful of soulful standards that he has made his own.

Blood Red Roses is released on September 28.

Rod Stewart furniture 'clear out' makes star £90k

Sir Rod Stewart has had a "good old-fashioned clear out" and sold his unwanted furniture and ornaments for just under £90,000.

The singer, who has a mansion in Sheering, near Harlow, auctioned off a number of items at Sworders' Fine Art in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex.

A pair of Victorian leather armchairs were the most popular items, with the hammer coming down at £7,600.

A spokesman for Sworders said the sales room had been "jam-packed".

The auction had originally been expected to raise up to £40,000.

Sir Rod, 73, who was knighted in 2016, is famous for such hits as Maggie May, Sailing and Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?

These Victorian leather armchairs were the most popular auction item with the pair selling for £7,600

There were just under 40 lots in the collection with estimates ranging from £60 to £3,000. All of the items listed were sold.

Among those were a pair of gilt bronze-mounted side tables, which were snapped up for £6,200, a pair of late 19th Century pier mirrors, which sold for almost double the guide price at £5,000, and a set of four gilt bronze two-branch wall lights, which went under the hammer at £2,800.

Sworders also had a limited number of signed auction catalogues the proceeds of which went to children's charity.

This teak leopard print lounge chair was snapped up for £3,800

A cold painted spelter figure of a banjo player sold for £2,900 - way over the £700 estimate

Emma McCann, of Sworders, said that most bidders came from the UK but there had also been a lot of interest from India, Greece and Germany.

She added: "There were 37 lots from Rod and all sold at well over the estimate.

"We certainly noticed a spike in attendance - we had approximately three times the number of online registered bidders and the sales room was jam-packed."

 Rod Stewart interview: on MeToo and his new album, Blood Red Roses         At 73, Rod Stewart is still as famous for his love life as he is for his music. He tells Polly Vernon that he’s never ‘pushed his luck’ with women – and that MeToo is long overdue

Sir Rod StewartRANKIN
The Times, 

Sir Rod Stewart stands in a private room at the back of that fake pub attached to the Langham hotel in central London. Short and magnificent, he is slim, wiry and dressed all in white (white linen shirt, white trousers, the letters “RS” emblazoned onto the side of unblemished white trainers made especially for him by “a bloke in Argentina, comes up to Vegas”). He is twinkly and tanned. His hair is … Well. You know exactly what his hair is. You know how he talks, too: throaty-gravelly American-tinged cockney, like his singing voice. He is, basically, 73 years old and unmistakably Rod Stewart.

“All right, Holly,” he says, and shakes my hand.

“So this is Polly,” says one of the two PRs (the record company one; there’s also a personal one).

“Nice frock, Holly,” says Stewart. He reaches out to touch the sleeve on my sundress, which is dark navy and printed with yellow roses.

“This. This fabric,” he says to the PRs.

“But with red roses. In a shirt. For the tour.” Stewart is in the throes of promoting his new album, Blood Red Roses, apparently magpie-ing ideas for its full creative manifestation wherever he finds them.

It’s from Ganni, I say.

“Garny? What’s that, Holly?”

G-A-N-N-I. It’s Swedish, I say. I oversee the PRs as they google “Ganni” on their phones.

“Thanks, Polly,” they say. “We’ll see you later, Polly.” They leave the room.

Stewart and I are alone. He guides me towards the seating area, three armchairs ranged round a coffee table.

“Where d’ya wanna sit, Holly?” he asks.

Rod Stewart can call me anything he likes. Turns out, I am some sort of instafan, bedazzled from the moment I walk into the room and stand in Stewart’s presence. How could you not be? How could you not be a little blown away by this decades-enduring explosion of working-class charisma and woman-slaying swagger? The peacock presentation; the tartan and the spandex; the cockney razzle dazzle spliced with fierce, proud declarations of Scottish heritage. The football, the flash, the humble roots and decadent spoils. I Don’t Wanna Talk About ItMaggie MayHandbags and GladragsSailingYou Wear it Well(“Madame Onassis got nothing on you …”). The love it or hate it, commercial triumph of Da Ya Think I’m Sexy. All that glamour, all that glee, all that talent, all that wit, compressed into just one bloke, who is sitting directly in front of me, asking after my dress.

Holly is close enough. Holly will do.

Meanwhile, “I’ve just come off holiday last night,” Stewart is saying, looking warily at the walls. “A boat, going round Sicily. The room’s moving. Because I’ve been on a boat.”

Blood Red Roses is Stewart’s 30th studio album: 13 tracks inspired by Motown, folk and R’n’B, and how about some reggae? It is sad. It is funny. It is kind. It is deft, the work of someone who’s done this before – a lot – yet isn’t remotely bored by it. Stewart’s voice holds up, still exquisitely throaty, still as capable of poleaxing you with heartbreak as it is stirring you up with dark, driving lust.

Its lyrics are peppered with autobiography and indiscretion – always Stewart’s schtick, a Taylor Swift for his time. “As a songwriter, I think I’m OK,” he says. “I’m black and white. A reporter.” His first solo hit, 1971’s Maggie May, was about losing his virginity to an older woman. Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright), from 1976, features the gasping and moaning of actress Britt Ekland, his girlfriend at the time. You’re In My Heart (1977) is widely assumed to be a tribute to Ekland, from whom Stewart had by then separated. Blood Red Roses’ lyrical preoccupations align with the singer’s age: less grinding lust, more grief and parental love. Didn’t I is about a parent comforting a child who’s relapsed into a drug addiction; it’s addressed to a girl, but Stewart’s son Sean – his eldest boy, child of Stewart’s first wife, model and actress Alana Stewart – has a well-documented history of drug abuse. Farewell is about the death of a good friend.

“Ewan Dawson. He was my best friend all the way through the Sixties. I met him when I was not famous, in a coffee bar in Muswell Hill, north London. I walked in and I thought, ‘He’s got on a pair of Anello & Davide high-heeled boots,’ which the Beatles had just started wearing. And I had a pair on! I thought, ‘Blimey, what a miracle.’ So I walked over to him. I said, ‘I like your boots, mate.’ ‘Yeah, I like yours, too.’ And we became friends. He was terribly well spoken; he was, like, a public schoolboy. He only came from Muswell Hill, but he was from an upper-class family. And we just became the best of mates. We travelled the world together. He was a loveable rascal, he was fashion-conscious and he had the best sense of humour. He died about five years ago. Oh, I can’t write songs like Hot Legs any more. Da Ya Think I’m Sexy. Any of those types of songs. I don’t feel them.

I’m not a tearaway any more.”

Do you miss being a tearaway?

“No.”

You did all right at it, I guess.

“I did great. I was the tearaway of tearaways. I was the leader of the pack.”

——————————

He was born Roderick David Stewart, in January 1945, to Londoner Elsie Gilbart and Scottish builder Robert Stewart, in a house that no longer exists. Coincidentally, it stood a little up the road from the flat in which I now live in Archway, north London.

“Whereabouts?” Stewart asks. “I want to work it out. Down from the hospital?”

Down past the Whittington, past Archway Tube, onto the Holloway Road, just beyond that Overground station …

“Just there, near the bridge the trains go underneath?”

Exactly.

“Cor blimey! I used to go down there when I was a kid.”

He grew up above the newsagent his dad owned and ran once he’d retired from the building trade, the “spoilt” youngest of five. Neither rich nor poor, “fantastically happy”, obsessed by model railways and football. He wanted to be a professional footballer.

Wth his wife, Penny Lancaster, and children (from left) Kimberly, Sean, Liam, Ruby and Renee, 2003GETTY IMAGES

“Coming from a footballing family, everybody played: my dad, my granddad, everybody. I had no option. And out of the three brothers, I was the most promising. They’ll probably be pissed off with me saying that; they’re both still around. But yeah, I wanted to play football. I don’t know whether I felt it deeply enough, but I wanted to keep my dad happy … And then the music came along.”

Stewart was 17, a “beatnik, singing on Brighton beach, you know? I would do a very good Bob Dylan impersonation, and Jack Elliott, all the great American folk singers, and people would listen, you know, and they’d ask me to sing songs.”

Did he think: bloody hell, this could make me rich and famous?

“That was the last thing on our minds. Elton. Eric Burdon. Mick Jagger. Any of these people. When we all started out together, we just had this thing inside. You wanted to breathe this music out. Get it out of you.”

OK, but did he think, this could get me girls?

“Girls were always in the back of my mind.”

——————————

Is any other British rock star as defined by women – the loving of them, chasing and courting and seducing them in his songs and videos, then leaving them, and sometimes marrying then divorcing them – as Stewart?

I don’t think so. Not Bowie. Not Bryan Ferry. Not even Mick Jagger; not to the same extent. In 2010, Stewart told Piers Morgan he couldn’t remember how many women he’d slept with (“And I’m not proud of that, either”), but the gossip columns and paparazzi photographs hold evidence of Stewart in the company of fantastically beautiful blondes, generally models or actresses, or both, most of whom were considerably taller than Stewart. The model Jenny Rylance in the late Sixties; the model Dee Harrington in the early Seventies; Britt Ekland from 1975-77; Alana Hamilton, whom he married in ’79 and divorced in ’84. Model Kelly Emberg, mother to his third daughter, Ruby. Model Rachel Hunter, whom he married in 1990 and divorced in 2006. Model Penny Lancaster, his third and, one presumes, final wife, whom he married in 2007 and with whom he has two sons, twelve-year-old Alastair and seven-year-old Aiden.

He has eight children in all – four girls and four boys – by four different women. The eldest, Sarah Streeter, was born before Stewart was famous – when he was 17, still a child himself – and subsequently adopted. “She’s in her fifties now. We don’t see much of each other, although we do keep in contact. She calls me Dad, and I call her my daughter, but it’s not quite the same and she knows it. I didn’t take her to school. I didn’t change her nappies. I didn’t do anything with her as a child. But we’re doing our best. That was scary times. I had to tell my mum and dad. My mum wanted to know if I was going to get married, and I said, ‘Well, not really, Mum,’ you know. She’s really old-fashioned. She said, ‘Well, she won’t get married in white, will she?’ I didn’t have a f***ing clue what that meant.”

 
 

“I’ve never been clumsy with women, let me put it that way. I’ve always held them in high esteem. But sometimes, when I finished with them … I was a complete coward.”

What’s the worst thing you’ve done to a woman?

“Ha. Could you rephrase that?”

What’s your biggest regret, in terms of past behaviour?

“Not being man enough to face up and say, ‘Darling, it’s finished. It’s all over.’ ”

You’d just stop returning calls?

“I’d disappear. That’s what we did in those days.”

They still do it now. They call it “ghosting”; people just stop responding to text messages.

“How do women handle it?”

Being ghosted?

“No. If you wanted to get rid of me, for instance?”

I’d tell you.

“To my face?”

Maybe over the phone.

Stewart considers this sensible. “Yeah. You don’t have to meet in person, avoid all the tears …”

But I wouldn’t do it by text. Or fax.

“Phil Collins sent a fax, didn’t he? Ha ha!” (I later discover Collins denies having ended a relationship by fax.) “I’ve never done that,” Stewart says. “I’d just disappear. I broke more hearts than I had mine broken. It took me a long time to grow up in that department.”

This aspect of Stewart’s public identity – the skirt-chasing; the serial modellising; the relentless heartbreaking; the authoring of lyrics such as, “Who’s that knockin’ on my door? It’s gotta be a quarter to four. Is it you again, comin’ round for more? Well, you can love me tonight if you want. But in the morning make sure you’re gone” (Hot Legs, 1977) – seems fantastically at odds with the sexual politics of the moment, with MeToo and Time’sUp, Twitter feminism and everyday sexism. I wonder how Stewart feels about all that. I assume it will seem absurd to him, a bizarre, dishonest denial of the fundamental male-female dynamic.

I am wrong.

I ask him if modern feminism is in conflict with the version of masculinity he represented, and he interrupts me.

“Tell me what I represented?” He sounds almost sharp.

 
 

I guess … you are, or have been, something of a … womaniser?

“That’s a horrible word, ‘womaniser’.”

Is it?

“Yeah! So’s ‘player’. Horrible. Let me put it this way: in my early twenties, going into my thirties, I never offended, as far as I know, any woman in the MeToo way … You know?”

I guess we’d have heard, if you had.

“I was doing what I think a lot of guys would have done in that era, with the money I had earned and the fame. I was not breaking the law, which brings us back to breaking a few hearts, which I sincerely regret. That was immature.”

He liked “playing the game”, he tells me, enjoyed “the chase”, but, “never pushed my luck”.

“Certainly on a few occasions I thought, ‘Well, this is a bit of a pushover.’ A couple of times when they’ve literally come on to me and they’ve been really beautiful … Otherwise, I love playing the game. The hunt. Taking them out for dinner, impressing them, and pulling up in the Ferrari or whatever it was. I’ve been famous for a long time, so I’ve had all these luxuries. Jump in the Ferrari, turn round, open the door, you know? I love romance. But as far as MeToo? That movement is long overdue. Of course it is.”

——————————

Stewart and I meet in mid-July, in the week after David Davis and Boris Johnson resign from the government over Brexit negotiations. It’s also when Donald Trump visits the UK, dining with Theresa May while the British public take to the streets: all rage and placards and Trump baby balloons that aren’t as big as everyone first thought.

I wonder how British politics seem to Stewart, who has based himself in Los Angeles since the late Seventies. As a young man, in the Sixties, Stewart was politically active. He joined demos, left-wing campaigns, the Aldermaston marches: “A real little red,” he said in a past interview. “Your actual Jack Kerouac. Barnet right down to here. Ban the bomb. You name it, we ban it. Anti-apartheid. Save cats. Save dogs. Shag in tents. What a life. What a life.”

Shagging in tents?

“CND was all about women.”

Does he have any genuine political passion?

“I do feel political. I just … prefer to keep it all to myself. I mean, I think Trump is … unfortunately, or … fortunately … going to be with us for a while, because he’s turned the States around. Industry’s doing well. The stock market’s up. But there’s something about him that people don’t like. I don’t think he’s going to be impeached, unless they can come up with some collusion with the Russians. I usually watch CNN, which is very anti-Trump, then I’ll watch Fox to see what the other side of the story is, and try to get a balance.”

Stewart seems uncharacteristically evasive where Trump is concerned. I assume he’s worried he’ll say something that will alienate American fans, prejudice sales of the new album one way or another. Again, I’m wrong.

“I know the guy.”

Ah.

“So it’s hard.”

Right.

“I lived just down the road from him in Florida.”

Which puts you in an awkward position.

“Yeah, it does. I used to go to his house for New Year’s Eve parties and charities, because I lived so close, and he’s always trying to get me to play Mar-a-Lago, which is where he lives, so it’s hard for me … He’s never been unkind to me.”

——————————

We move on to the infinitely more comfortable subject of fashion. Clothes are a grand passion for Stewart.

“Oh, man, yeah! I mean, if I could be a window dresser, I would. I change outfits three times a day.”

He is particularly attached to the high street store Zara. “Love it. I’ll probably go to every Zara in the United States on this next tour. My midday excursion. The boys go, ‘He’s going to Zara. Get the car round.’ And I will tell you an interesting story. Was I in Argentina? I don’t know where I was … No, I was in America … Or it might have been here. But the people that work in Zara have a reputation for being very cold. You don’t get any help in Zara. Have you noticed?”

Yeah, but I’m not a rock star.

“Oh, they don’t give a shit about me. But I was in Zara the other day and two girls came up. They said, ‘Sir, can we help you?’ I said, ‘What? Zara, you’re helping me?’ They said, ‘Yes, sir. It’s our new policy around the world. Everybody has to have a smile on their face.’ ”

No way.

“Yes! Go and see.”

I shall.

“But I don’t need help, because I know my size in Zara. I don’t even try it on.”

He plans outfits days in advance and generally works alone.

“Although I’m colour-blind, so sometimes with my purples and my blues and my lavenders … I have to ask Penny. She’ll say, ‘No, darling,’ or she’ll go, ‘Absolutely spot on.’ ”

——————————

Rod Stewart has been married to Penny Lancaster, the model and broadcaster, since 2007, a year after he and Rachel Hunter divorced. Does he think he’s a good husband?

“I think so, yeah. I think I’ve been a good husband in the last two marriages. I’ve learnt a lot.”

He maintains cordial relationships with his exes, with Alana Stewart, Hunter and “Kelly, who I never married, but we had Ruby, our daughter. We’ve had our ups and downs, you know, but we’re all growing old and beginning to …”

Mellow?

“A little bit.”

Receiving his knighthood in 2016 with Penny and their sons Alastair (left) and Aiden

I ask him what is the secret to a good divorce. He says there’s no such thing. “It’s just a horrible time – horrible for the kids. They’re always the ones that suffer. But my relationship with my kids is absolutely brilliant. So you pick up your phone … [he shows me his phone screen, points at a string of phantom alerts] … and you see, ‘Stewart, Stewart, Stewart …’ And they’ve all called you. And that’s wonderful.”

He’s a grandfather to seven-year-old Delilah, daughter of his and Alana Stewart’s daughter Kimberly and the actor Benicio Del Toro. Kimberly and Delilah live with Stewart in Los Angeles. Delilah “won’t kiss me! It’s heartbreaking. I say, ‘Come and give Grandad a kiss.’ But she won’t. I keep thinking maybe I smell or something. She’s a little wary of men. Do you have children?”

No, I’ve never wanted them.

“I had an argument with Jacqueline Bisset once about this. I couldn’t understand why women don’t want to have children.”

What did she say?

“She was enjoying her career. She was genuine. She was a gorgeous woman. She just said, ‘No, I don’t see me as a mother.’ ”

——————————

I ask about his hair, which, he says, “is just hair, and it won’t lie down”. I ask him about his experience of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll and he says, “There was a lot of sex, but not many drugs. I never really was a druggie.” I ask him about death, which he says has bothered him a few times. “I had a little bout where I had cancer in the throat.” In 2000, surgeons had to cut through Stewart’s vocal cords to remove a malignancy, meaning Stewart not only had to contemplate mortality, he also had to think about what his life might be if he survived but the treatment robbed him of his voice. “Some near plane crashes. Those things help you grow up, you know. This ain’t gonna go on for ever. Make amends.”

Does he formally apologise to people?

“Oh yeah. I’m good at that. Really good.”

When was the last time?

“That’s personal. I can’t tell you that.”

I have time for one final question. I ask Stewart why the first cut is the deepest, according to the title of his 1976 hit. It’s a conversation I’ve had with my friend Martha, who has always argued there’s no reason why the third cut needn’t be the deepest, or the 17th – whichever one you bleed to death from, basically.

“You’ll have to ask Cat Stevens,” says Stewart, who answers this question like he answers most questions, without blinking, and as if it’s not the first time he’s considered it. “I didn’t write it; I just made it famous. But I would imagine it’s your first heartbreak.” I accept this and make to pack up my things and leave, but Stewart is still warming to his theme.

“When I broke up with Rachel [Hunter], that was my big heartbreak,” he says.

I do some maths: Stewart’s marriage to Rachel Hunter ended in 2006, which means Stewart was almost 60 the first time he had his heart broken.

That must have been a shock, I say.

“For a man who’s always got his own way? Yeah. I didn’t have the tools to cope. It had never happened to me. I didn’t know how to see it. I didn’t notice that she wasn’t quite as interested in seeing me as she [had been]. I was in smithereens. But she was too young.” Hunter was 37 when they divorced.

Did Penny save him?

“No. I saved myself,” he says. “But she helped.”

——————————

Now, our time truly is up; Stewart’s hairdresser is waiting for him. (He is ever so pleased he’s hung on to the hair, he’d said earlier. Would he have got a hair transplant if he’d lost it? “I probably would,” he said.)

Stewart hugs me goodbye, says he doesn’t feel as if he’s answered my questions properly, congratulates me on the dress again and calls me Holly one last time.

I head for the door.

“Where you going now, anyway?” he asks.

Zara, then Archway, I say, quite truthfully.

“Girl after my own heart,” he says. “Girl after my own heart.” 

Blood Red Roses is released on September 28

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