An interview with Rod ...

Rod Stewart reveals how he tricks fans into listening to his new songs

ROD Stewart is gearing up for another Australian tour, and has revealed a secret trick he uses on fans while he’s performing on stage and more.

You’re touring Australia with your Hits show next year. How much freedom is there in a tour advertised as Hits?


I wouldn’t say the set list is rigid, I try and put in two or three different songs at the most every night. The other night we were sitting in the dressing room and worked out we could do a whole other show with the songs we don’t play. Which is a wonderful position to be in.


There’s a large handful of songs you’re obliged to play every time you do a show


Yeah, they want to hear Maggie May, they want to hear Tonight’s the Night, Do Ya Think I’m Sexy, Hot Legs, You Wear It Well, you have to play those. But I like to put in a couple of Faces songs sometimes, we were doing Stay With Me and Ooh La La recently. People appreciate that.


Let’s say you’re on stage singing Do Ya Think I’m Sexy for the umpteenth time. Does the fact the crowd love it give you motivation?


That’s very important. The crowd reaction is not the same everywhere. A different crowd every night means you get a different reaction and the songs sound relatively different every time you play them. As much as I love playing Las Vegas it does get a little of a residency feeling after a while, even though you play to a different audience. It’s just because the building and the stage and the dressing room and the times you play are the same every night. It can get a little monotonous.

You’ve been playing Vegas a lot of late. Vegas residencies have certainly changed


It’s not what it used to be when Elvis played there and people were busy eating their dinner and there was a constant clinking of knives and forks and plates while Elvis was trying to sing. It’s probably the best venue I’ve ever played at in terms of acoustics and there not being a bad seat in the house. It really is a wonderful place.


Do you get to fly home to LA each night after the show?


Absolutely. I leave home at 4.30pm and I’m home at 11pm each night. I get up and see the kids each morning. One is very civilised these days.


You broke a writer’s drought with the album Time. Has that opened the gates?


I’m actually halfway through a new album. I was very encouraged by the success of Time, it was a very long period where I wasn’t writing any songs. It’s encouraged me to take another step forward and come up with more songs and I’m finding it quite easy. The flood gates have been reopened.


Where does Rod Stewart write songs best?


Usually when I’m taken captive on an aeroplane or where I can’t move and I’ve got no other sideshows going on. I find that the best place.


How many Time songs can you get in the new shows?


I know it did pretty well in Australia. We’ll do three songs at least — Brighton Beach, Can’t Stop Me Now and She Makes Me Happy. But it is a struggle. I’ve got a unique method. I’ll say ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to have to put you through the misery of a new song’. In America Time did OK but not as well as it did in other places. So I’ll say ‘Look, just pretend you’re listening to Tonight’s the Night and give it a big round of applause at the end’ and usually they fall for that ploy and they do. It’s hard work selling new songs with the vast catalogue I’ve got that people want to hear. They pay the money and they want to hear what they want to hear. It’s pointless being self-indulgent.


Can you be spontaneous and turn around and ask the band to play a random song?


Not on stage. There’s so many different guitars that have to be used, different tunings. You can’t just turn around and say `Play this’ because the guitar players need to know upfront what we’re going to play.


How long are shows these days?


I can’t remember the longest show I’ve ever done, but the ones now are probably the longest. When I was with the Faces we used to have to play for 43 minutes and that was it. We do just under two hours now, maybe two hours if I’m in a talkative mood.


There’s a teleprompter on stage — how often do you use it?


If we put a new song in the set I’m not familiar with I might put the words up, everybody does that nowadays. My memory is pretty good. When I put the autobiography out I was astounded at how my memory has held up after all the abuse over the years.


Your autobiography was very honest — how was the reaction?


There was no negativity at all, it did remarkably well, it was on the bestsellers list in the US and Great Britain. I think because I was having a good laugh at myself. It was humorous, which I think Pete Townshend and Neil Young’s books weren’t.


You have a milestone birthday in January ... 70.


I’m not worried about it at all. Birthdays don’t mean anything to me. My wife’s trying to organise a great big birthday party but I’m trying to get out of it. Birthdays don’t mean so much to guys as they do to women. They come and go and they don’t worry me at all.

Here’s the tiresome question about retirement ...


Obviously it’s something that can’t go on forever. But I am booked all the way through 2015. I’m enjoying it at the moment. I’ve got the energy, the voice is in good stead, the people are still coming out to see me which I very much appreciate.


You’re on Twitter. Do you Tweet?


Nah. I don’t get involved in all that. If I want to Twitter something I have someone who does it for me. My wife does Instagrams. I email my kids and my friends and that’s about it. I’ve even given up on my mobile phone because the f---ing thing keeps running out of battery. I was forever plugging it in and recharging it so I don’t bother anymore.


How are you contactable then?


I’m not really. My kids email me but they were the ones who told me to get a phone. So I got a phone and they didn’t bother to call me. They just email me.


As a British soul singer, what do you think of the new breed like Sam Smith?


He’s brilliant. I absolutely love him. He’s really good and for a big fella he’s a good dancer too. I also like John Newman, he’s a great singer too. I like those two, they’re very good.


What’s happening with the Faces reunion?


Well, I imagine when Ronnie (Wood) is done with you down there in October with the Stones hopefully they’ll wind up and that’ll open up a window for the Faces to tour. We’re all in touch with each other.


Do you ever wonder why you haven’t got a Knighthood yet?


I was over the moon to get a CBE (in 2007), that was unexpected. As far as a knighthood goes, if it happens it happens. But it would be nice, wouldn’t it ...


The Girl in the Video: “Infatuation” (1984)

The video: “Infatuation” by Rod Stewart.

The girl-now-woman: Kay Lenz.

How old were you when you appeared in the “Infatuation” video?


Where were you living at the time?

Hollywood Hills, CA.

What music videos, shows, or movies had you appeared in prior to that?

That was my first music video, but I had been working in film and TV since the age of 13. I’ve been fortunate that there are too many things to list here.

How were you cast?

Jonathan Kaplan, the director, called and asked if I would do the video.

Do you remember what your reaction was when you were cast?

I said yes without reservation. I had worked with Jonathan three times before this and he was one of my favorite directors. I was in rehearsal for a play at the time and my first concern was being able to fit the video into my schedule. After discussing the logistics of me doing the video, Jonathan said to me, “Kay, are you at all interested in whose video this is? You haven’t even asked.” He was right, I had not asked because working with him again was all I was interested in.

Then he told me it was a Rod Stewart video. I thought, “Rod Stewart!” Why do you want to hire me? Stewart’s videos showcased exceptionally beautiful, leggy, blond women. A category I was not in. Jonathan said that they needed someone who could act, that it was not just a performance video but also an acting piece. I was happy to do this before I knew it was a Rod Stewart video, now I was thrilled.

Were you a Rod Stewart fan?

Of course. Who wasn’t?

Where was the video filmed?

In various practical locations in Hollywood. The merry-go-round scene was filmed in Griffith Park.

How long was the shoot?

Approximately four days.

How did you feel making the video?

I felt the way I always do when I am working…happy and grateful to be working


What was the hardest part of the shoot?

I am not comfortable in front of a still camera, so the day spent taking all the still photographs that were hung on the walls in Rod Stewart’s character’s apartment was a bit difficult for me. The shoot itself was not hard; it went smoothly and without a hitch.

How was it to work with Rod Stewart? What was he like? Did he hit on you?

It was wonderful to work with him. He is smart, interesting, and involved. He was a perfect gentleman. He treated me with professional respect and kindness. I think we worked very well together.

I also want to express what a privilege it was meeting Jeff Beck, whom I had respected for many years.

Any funny stories from the shoot?

Jonathan told me that they would be blowing up one of the photographs that they had taken of me. I thought that meant a life-sized photo; I’m only 5’3”. When I came to the set the night they were shooting the performance part of the video—i.e. Rod Stewart in front of this photograph—I was there for an hour before I even noticed the photograph. It was at least 12x12 foot. It was so big I didn’t notice it.

Anything go wrong on the shoot?

No, nothing.

What did you think of the video?

I thought it was smart, creatively unique for music videos at that time, beautifully photographed, and well edited. Jonathan’s brilliant touch was evident throughout the video. As a huge Hitchcock fan, I loved the reference in this video to one of my favorite films, Rear Window.

And let’s not forget that “Infatuation” was and still is a fantastic song.

What did your parents think of it?

They loved it.

What did your friends think of it?

My colleagues and friends felt the same way I did about video—creative, unique, and extremely well done.

Did you watch the MTV World Premiere of the video, and if so, where and how did that

No, I rarely watch work that I’ve done. But when I did see it, I loved it.

Did the video ever affect your dating life in any way (i.e. when you first told boyfriends you were the woman in it)?


Did you receive fan mail? If so, do you still have any of it?

Yes, it made me happy to hear how much people enjoyed the video. I still receive fan
mail to this day.

Did the video generate any controversy that you know of?

There was no controversy around this video.

What were you paid?

I can’t remember.

Were you ever recognized in public?

Yes, I was recognized as the girl in the “Infatuation” video. It developed a new fan base for me: 8- to 16-year-old boys.

Did you appear in other music videos after that?

Only music videos having to do with soundtracks for films I appeared in.

Did you ever meet other women who were female leads in a mainstream ‘80s rock video?

Haven’t met any.

If you went to college, where and what did you study?

I spent only a short time in college because I started acting full-time in my late teens. When I was there, I studied psychology.

What are you doing these days?

Fortunately I continue to do what I love, acting.


Where do you live?

Malibu, CA.

If you are/were married, what was your future husband’s reaction when he learned you were in this video?

I was not married at the time.


I do not have children.

What did you think when you first heard from me?

I am and always will be very private. I shy away from most personal interviews. This interview, however, is about the opportunity to sing the praises of the people involved in making this video three decades later.

Has anyone else ever interviewed you about this?


Have you appeared at any fan conventions to sign autographs?

Yes I have.

Did you stay in touch with Rod Stewart?

It was a working situation with the exception of his gracious invitations to attend several concerts.

When was the last time you were in touch?

In the mid-eighties.

How do you look back on the experience?

I treasure the memories of that experience.

Anything you’d like to add?

As someone who is not musical—who mouths “Happy Birthday”—it was unexpected and remains dear to my heart that this video is considered a part of rock history.

Interview with Rod Stewart and Carlos Santana


Brief Encounter with... Tonight's the Night Writer Ben Elton



Ben Elton




Ben Elton's Tonight the Night is back, touring the UK from the next week, starting in Manchester. Here, the writer talks about why he wanted to revisit the Rod Stewart musical.

By WhatsOnStage Reviewer • 17 Jan 2014 • Southwest



It's been over a decade now since Tonight's the Night played the West End. What's your feeling about the show as you return to it in a fresh production this many years on?


I've always loved this show for the same reasons that I have always loved the theatre. It's wonderful to be a part of this community of artists who dedicate themselves to their art and backstage may be rinsing their socks out in the sink or whatever and then go out and make everybody in the audience feel like champions. What we want to say with this show, in particular, is that there's nothing wrong with theatre being a fantastic night out that makes you feel great so that you go home feeling better than you did when you arrived – that's what people are paying for and that's what the theatre can do.


What was the impetus behind a show that tethers an original story by you to the extant Rod Stewart songbook?


Well, let's face it. It's difficult to think of anybody more famous in the world of pop music than Rod Stewart. There may be people as famous like Bono and Paul McCartney but there aren't many out there who can surpass what Rod has achieved. And what's great is that when you listen to Rod's music and then look at his life, he always seems so fabulously good-humoured, as well, so I thought what would work might be a story that brought to the stage his grace and good humour and something of his devilish side while also recognising the fact that he sings about heartache as well as anyone ever has.


Your script for Tonight's the Night involves Satan and a so-called "soul swap" and a geeky young mechanic from Detroit who is none-too-accidentally called Stuart. How did the idea for the story come to you?


I spent a week listening to Rod's music intensively, which of course was no hardship at all, and as I listened and listened and listened, I tried to identify the overriding spirit of the songs, which were all about love and good times and winning and losing girls and all the things that quite frankly make for good stories! So I sat down and tried to think of something that would do justice to Rod's own gift for storytelling and came up with a story that reminds us of that thing we're always been told over and over again in drama – "to thine own self be true."


How does a quote from Hamlet apply to Tonight's the Night?


[Laughs] Our show is really about a shy kid in Stuart who wishes that he could be like Rod and gets his chance only then to discover that only Rod can be like Rod but that what Stuart can be is himself. The point is that you'll do better in life if you try and build on your own strength and personality rather than being jealous and wishing you were somebody else – that's to say, nobody but Rod can be Rod just as nobody but you can be you and nobody but me can be me: it's a simple story, which I think is perfect for a musical.


Were you worried about what Rod would think?


I first sent a synopsis of the script to Arnold (Stiefel, Rod's manager, and a co-producer on the show) and fortunately he loved it and said that he was going to say that to Rod and hope that he would love it, too. To this day, I'm not sure whether Rod ever read the synopsis or not but what happened was that he came to our workshop and turned to me at the end and said, "Well, you've made me a legend, haven't you?" – which was of course hilarious because he's been a legend all along!


Still, it must have been heartening to have so strong a seal of approval. Did you have an intuitive sense that his music would translate well to the musical theatre stage?


What's great is that Rod writes songs from the heart like "Maggie May" or he will choose to cover exquisite material like "The First Cut is the Deepest", the Cat Stevens song, but they always tell the story of somebody going through some set of emotions be they pride and joy and heartache or from love to hate or hate to love. They're all about being a guy, really, I guess – they're guy songs – but obviously they appeal to women as well because they're written with such sensitivity and they come with emotions that concern us all, which are love, pride, hope and the dream that tomorrow will be a better day than today.


You've had success with the songbooks of Rod Stewart and, of course, Queen, with We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre on the West End. Are there some popular singer-songwriters whom you don't think would lend themselves to this approach?


There are. I'm busking here as I say this but I don't think Bob Dylan's music would necessarily work in this way; his music is too eclectic in that you can't sit down and say, "What's Bob's vibe"? It's just too crazy. And for my part at least, I'm just not that interested in writing the biography of someone set to their music. I was approached to do that as regards the genius of Tina Turner but what I prefer to do is write an original story embodying the spirit of the artist or the band.


Since Tonight's the Night, jukebox musicals have continued to proliferate both sides of the Atlantic; a new one drawing on the songbook of Carole King and entitled Beautiful has just opened on Broadway.


I'm not surprised and I will argue to anyone who wants to listen that jukeboxes are not something to be ashamed of [laughs]! They are filled with memories and dreams and love and laughter and they are good, fun things, and the theatre can be good fun, as well. In my view, it's a perfectly legitimate and honourable thing to seek to entertain the public with music that they love, and the fact that the music is old and the story is new strikes me as no more reprehensible than attaching new music to an old story, as with The Lion King and Billy Elliot.


Was Tonight's the Night always the obvious song title for your show as a whole?


No and the jury's still out as to whether this was the right one; Phil McIntyre, our producer, still thinks it should be called Hot Legs!


Tonight's the Night opens at Manchester's Palace Theatre on 20 January and stars Jade Ewen. It tours the UK until 2 August, with Michael McKell appearing in it until 26 April. For full tour dates, visit the show's website

 Time always on Rod Stewart’s side


October 17, 2013 - 6:04pm From the New York Times

ATLANTA — Rod Stewart usually can be counted on for a couple of things in concert: To be rakishly charming at all times and to deliver a solid array of hits in that distinctive rasp that makes today’s Top 40 kids sound like meerkats by comparison.

This spring, he released 'Time,' his first album of original material in more than a decade — no doubt his 'American Songbook collection had its fans, but even Stewart tired of the classics after a point — and returned to the charts with the giddy rocker She Makes Me Happy.

If recent set lists from the European leg of his tour hold, that is one of a couple of new songs Stewart is tucking into his hits-stuffed shows. Fans can expect a musical time capsule ranging from Maggie May to Rhythm of My Heart to his beloved Motown covers, with fellow rock vet Steve Winwood opening.

Earlier this fall, Stewart, still cheeky at 68, called from Los Angeles to talk about the tour, the effect his amusing book, Rod: The Autobiography, had on his songwriting, and memories of Atlanta’s Gold Club.


Q: What made this the right time to return to writing and recording original songs?


A: I hadn’t written a song for 13 years. I’d done the American Songbook (albums) and the Christmas album and I was running out of options. (Time) was inspired when we started writing the book — it inspired so many memories.


Q: How much of the set will be dedicated to the new songs and what can we expect, production-wise?


A: It’s always a big show, though I don’t have Celine Dion with water and the front of the Titanic (as in her Las Vegas show). We rely on the music. It’s a glamorous stage with high-tech video work. We’ll probably do four or five songs from the new album, maybe three. People always want to hear the songs they know and they’re quite right. If Sam Cooke was alive, I’d want to hear all the old stuff. It’s a big band — 14 people. My daughter, Ruby, might be coming out. All the girls take part in a drum solo dressed in leopard print — it’s very Rod Stewart. And we’ll do about five acoustic songs.


Q: What’s the format with Steve Winwood? Are you performing together at all like you did with Stevie Nicks?


A: I can’t imagine so. I don’t think we really have enough time. The last time we were onstage was the Reading Jazz Festival in 1965. He came up with Eric Burdon.


Q: Whose idea was it to tour together?


A: Nowadays you need a good support act. Tickets don’t sell as they did years ago and the more glamorous you can make the bill, the better. We’ve both been around the same block.


Q: And you’re still kicking your soccer balls, right?


A: Oh, yes, 40 of them every night.


Q: From reading your autobiography and also some stories about the Faces, it seems as if Atlanta was one of those cities that brought out the naughty side of you and the band.


A: (Laughs) We used to fly in and go to the (now shuttered) Gold Club. Sometimes we never did encores if it got us there faster.


Q: I would guess that backstage is a bit of a different scene now.


A: My days of that are thankfully behind me. It seemed OK at the time, so frivolous and silly. We used to get so abused by hotels, and they didn’t want us there. We actually got banned by the Holiday Inn!


Q: Will your boys (Alastair, 8, and Aiden, 2) come on the road with you?


A: No, they won’t, they’re all in school. (Wife) Penny (Lancaster) will come out. I do about nine shows and take a break. I can’t do those tours for five months straight anymore.


Q: Does it bug you to be onstage and see so many people filming the concert on their cameras rather than paying attention to what you’re presenting at the moment?


A: It doesn’t worry me at all. I encourage it, especially in Vegas. Some of the people who perform there have people thrown out. I do the opposite — I encourage people to come down to the stage.


Q: You’ve extended your Vegas run for two more years, so I guess it must be going well?


A: It really is. I’m astonished, because we just play our music and get on with it. It’s a happy show, it’s a happy band, that’s why we’re always smiling for two hours. It’s contagious. People leave with smiles and footballs. It’s intimate and you can tell stories for the audience and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. It honestly is better than playing arenas.


Q: What’s the latest with you and Jeff Beck?


A: Jeff and I we tried to make a blues album together, but we couldn’t see eye to eye. But there’s more chance of the Faces touring. If the (Rolling) Stones would ever bloody finish, there would be a window of opportunity for the Faces.


Q: This tour ends in December. What’s next on the planner?


A: We’re going to make a new album, either originals or a country album. I’ve covered a lot of country songs, and songs like You’re in My Heart are very country oriented. It would be interesting to do it.

Rod Stewart finds timely inspiration.

Working on autobiography rekindles songwriting drive.

Rod Stewart has never shied from the spotlight, but on
this day, the famously cheeky rocker wants a softer glow.

He’s waiting to be interviewed on camera about his
first album of original music in almost 20 years, and the lighting inside the
fitness center of his Beverly Hills compound isn’t quite right. He calls for his
No. 1 expert to check it out.

“My wife’s on her way over,” he says of 42-year-old
model/photographer spouse Penny Lancaster.

There’s a lot of love in Stewart’s life now, and it’s
on full display on “Time,” his latest album. There are other signs, too, like
how his youngest sons’ weights are scrawled on a scale inside this
apartment-sized gym, just above “mummy” and “daddy”; and how he pauses during an interview to shout, “See ya, Shawny,” to his eldest son, Sean, as he grabs some
water after playing basketball on the court outside.

After releasing eight cover albums — his five “Great
American Songbook” volumes, a Christmas album, “Soulbook” and his classic rock
collection — Stewart rediscovered his songwriting voice while reviewing his life
for his 2012 autobiography, “Rod.” That self-reflection, combined with the
personal contentment he clearly feels, resulted in a deeply personal collection
of songs: stories about his father, his early life, his eight children, his two

“It was probably the longest writer’s block in
history, you know, 20-odd years. But it wasn’t self-imposed. It was maybe a lack
of confidence,” Stewart said. “I’d sort of given up, let’s put it that way. But
because of the autobiography, it inspired me. And I had a lot to write about.
... Probably I was in the right state of my life to start writing these very
personal songs.”

Not only did he find a wellspring of material, he
found a delight in songwriting that had always been elusive.

“It always used to be like work for me. It was never a
pleasure. It was never a joy. It was like being at school,” he said. “But now, I
finally enjoy it. My wife will tell you, I was getting up in the middle of the
night and writing down lyrics, just inspired. I can’t wait to start writing
again. It’s tremendous.”

Even his longtime manager, Arnold Stiefel, was shocked
at how prolific Stewart was without prodding.

“You’d have to lock him in a room to get him to write
songs,” he said. “Now, he’s approaching it with a real joy. I was blown

The autobiography and the album are companions,
Stewart said, though in some ways the album is more revealing. Where the book
chronicles his evolution into a world-famous rock star (and the attendant
pleasures of that lifestyle) along with the happiness of his present
circumstances, only the latter comes through on “Time.”

“I’ve got a feeling that this album is a watershed
album for me because it is so personal,” he said.

That means embracing an image far from the “Do Ya
Think I’m Sexy?” swagger of his heyday. Here, the 68-year-old is a loving dad,
grateful son and faithful partner.

“It’s OK,” he said. “I believe that’s one way you can
write songs — be as personal as you can. I’ve always said my life’s been an open
book, I’ve got nothing to hide. ... I think it’s even somewhat brave to be that
personal and put it down on record for the rest of your life that people are
going to hear.”

That’s not to say that he isn’t still cheeky. Asked
what he likes to do when he’s not working, Stewart included “have sex with my
wife as much as I can” as part of his response.

He also works out. The interview was held in one of
two gyms on his Celtic House property. Stewart keeps up his energy for his
regular 90-minute sets at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and his upcoming tour
with regular workouts, including weekly soccer matches with a team whose members
are all over 50. He even has a soccer field on his property.

His musical influences have remained the same over his
45-year career — “Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Muddy Waters” — and he still listens
to the same music today. He also has an affinity for Adele and Tom Waits, whose
“Picture in a Frame” is the only song on “Time” that Stewart didn’t write.

“I spoke to Tom the other day for the first time ever,
and he thanked me for doing his songs, and I said I think he’s the finest rock
’n’ roll lyricist of all time,” Stewart said. “I really do. I think he’s as near
to genius as you can get.”

Like his friends and contemporaries, Elton John and
Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones, Stewart just keeps on performing,
contributing to a new template for the older rock star.

“It’s our job. It’s what we do. It’s almost, I would
say, it’s our identity and it’s very hard to give up, especially when you love
what you do,” he said.

“ I do hope I’ve got the dignity and the awareness to
bow out at the right time, which is when I’m 93. We’ve been lucky, all of

Said Stiefel: “We’ve been together literally 30 years
and I’ve never known him so comfortable, so happy, having such a good time.”

No wonder Stewart needs the lights turned down. He’s
generating enough of his own.

From The Detroit News:


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February 10 2023









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