With The Jeff Beck Group, Rod Stewart began his climb to stardom. He and the former Yardbird guitarist pioneered the heavy Blues-Rock team of a virtuoso guitarist and a dynamic, sexy lead vocalist which became the standard blueprint for Heavy Metal. "Truth", the band's debut album, was released in the Fall of 1968, becoming a hit in both America and Britain. The Jeff Beck Group toured both countries several times in 1968 and 1969, gaining a dedicated following. In the Summer of 1969 they released their second album, "Beck-Ola", which became another hit record on both sides of the Atlantic. After a period of in-fighting, Beck broke up the band on the eve of the Woodstock Music Festival in the Fall of '69, at which they had been scheduled to perform. It was a decision that Beck later stated he regretted.
After rejecting an offer to join the American rock group Cactus, Stewart and bassist Ron Wood joined The Small Faces, who had an earlier U.S. #16 hit with "Itchycoo Park". With Wood switching over to guitar, the group shortened their name to The Faces and recorded their debut album, "First Step". During this time, Stewart had also signed a solo contract, releasing his first album, "An Old Raincoat Won't Let You Down" (re-titled "The Rod Stewart Album" for its American release), at the end of 1969. The record failed to chart in the U.K., yet it made it to #139 on the Billboard Hot 200. On the album, Stewart's Folk roots meshed with his R&B and Rock influences, creating a distinctive, stripped-down acoustic-based Rock 'n' Roll that signalled he was a creative force in his own right.
The Faces released "First Step" in the Spring of 1970. The album was a departure both from the R&B/Pop direction of The Small Faces and the heavy Blues of The Jeff Beck Group. Instead, the band became a boisterous, boozy and sloppy Stones-inspired Rock 'n' Roll band. The album fared better in the U.K. than it did in the U.S., yet the group built a devoted following on both continents with their reckless live shows. Stewart released his second solo album, "Gasoline Alley", in the Fall of 1970, supporting it with an American tour.
The following year proved to be pivotal in Stewart's career. At the beginning of 1971, The Faces released their second album, "Long Player", which became a bigger hit than "First Step", yet his third solo album, "Every Picture Tells a Story", made Rod Stewart a household name, reaching number one in both America and Britain. "Reason to Believe" was the first single from the album, becoming a minor hit in both the countries, but when DJs began playing the B-side, "Maggie May", the single became a number one smash in both the U.K. and U.S. for five weeks in September of '71. The Faces released their third album, "A Nod Is As Good As A Wink...To a Blind Horse", a couple of months later. Thanks to the success of "Every Picture Tells a Story", the album was a Top Ten hit in both countries. It also launched the single "Stay with Me", which became a Top 40 hit in the U.S. when it reached #17 in 1972.
The following year, The Faces began a lengthy Spring road trip. During the tour, tensions grew within the band as Stewart's solo career increased in popularity. That Summer, Stewart released his fourth solo album, "Never A Dull Moment", which nearly replicated the success of "Every Picture Tells a Story", peaking at #2 in the U.S. and #1 in the U.K. In the Spring of 1973, The Faces released their final album, "Ooh La La". Stewart expressed his disdain for the record in the press, yet it hit #1 in Great Britain and #21 in America.
After releasing the "Pool Hall Richard" single in the beginning of 1974, the band went on tour. It would prove to be their last. Stewart released his fifth solo album, "Smiler", in the Fall of 1975. The L.P. followed the same direction as his previous four albums, and it also became a hit, yet it showed signs that the formula was wearing thin. In March of 1975, Rod began a love affair with Swedish actress Britt Ekland. The romance, along with a bitter fight with U.K. tax collectors, prompted him to apply for U.S. citizenship. The album, "Atlantic Crossing", released in the Summer of 1975, made the singer's relocation explicit. Recorded with producer Tom Dowd and the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, the album removed much of Rod's Folk roots and accentuated his Pop appeal. At the end of the year, Stewart left The Faces and the band finally called it quits.
Recorded in Los Angeles with a group of studio musicians, 1976's "A Night On the Town" continued Stewart's move to slicker Pop territory and proved quite successful, becoming his first Platinum album. It featured the hit single "Tonight's the Night" which was number one in the U.S. for eight weeks. "Foot Loose and Fancy Free", released the following year, followed the same artistic pattern as "A Night On The Town", while surpassing its commercial performance, selling over three million copies. Stewart even incorporated some Disco to his musical formula for 1978's "Blondes Have More Fun". Supported by the number one single "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?", the record became Stewart's first number one album since "Every Picture Tells A Story", selling over four million records. By this time, Stewart was notorious for his jet-set lifestyle, particularly the series of actresses and models he dated.
With 1981's "Tonight I'm Yours", Stewart began adding elements of New Wave and Synth-Pop to his formula, resulting in another Platinum album. Soon afterward though, his career hit a slump. His next four albums sounded forced and he only scored three Top Ten hits between 1982 and 1988. Out of those four albums, only 1983's "Camouflage" went Gold. Stewart rebounded with 1988's "Out of Order", recorded with Duran Duran's Andy Taylor and Chic's Bernard Edwards. His version of Tom Waits' "Downtown Train", taken from the 1989 four-disc box set "Storyteller", became his biggest hit since "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" 1991's "Vagabond Heart" reflected a more mature and reflective Rod Stewart and continued his comeback streak.
Stewart reunited with Ron Wood to record an MTV Unplugged concert in 1993. The accompanying album launched the Top Ten hit single, "Have I Told You Lately". Unplugged also returned Stewart to a more acoustic-based sound. On his 1995 album, "A Spanner In The Works", the singer explored a more polished version of this sound, scoring a #52 hit in America with Tom Petty's "Leave Virginia Alone" and #16 smash in the U.K. with "Purple Heather". The following year, he released "If We Fall In Love Tonight", which was comprised of both previously released and new material. "When We Were The New Boys" followed in 1998, which brought his thirty-fourth and final Billboard Top 40 hit, "Ooh La La", which stalled at #39.
Through it all, Stewart never failed to rise to the occasion in the presence of a great song. He's asserted himself across the decades as a masterful songwriter ("Maggie May", "You're in My Heart", "Young Turks") and skilled interpreter. Over the years, numbers originally associated with the likes of The Temptations ("[I Know] I'm Losing You"), Van Morrison ("Have I Told You Lately"), Tom Waits ("Downtown Train"), Jimi Hendrix ("Angel") and the Sutherland Brothers ("Sailing") have been definitely rendered by Stewart in his expressive and soulful voice
After releasing a CD called "Human" in 2000, Rod turned his attention to recording a collection of old standards for "It Had To Be You...The Great American Songbook" in 2002. The album proved to be his best seller in years and was followed the next year by "As Time Goes By...The Great American Songbook Vol. 2", "Stardust...The Great American Songbook Vol. 3" in 2004 and "The Great American Songbook Vol. 4 - Thanks For The Memory" in 2005. This series of albums sold extremely well and opened up a whole new audience for Stewart. In October, 2006, Stewart's CD "Still the Same ... Great Rock Classics of Our Time" entered the Billboard Hot 200 album chart at #1. The collection, which features Stewart's interpretations of songs originally cut by The Eagles, The Pretenders, Badfinger, Bob Seger and others, sold 184,000 units in its first week.
May of 2011 brought the news that Rod would join Celine Dion and Elton John at Las Vegas' Colosseum at Caesars Palace for a two-year residency. In Rod's words: "We'll try to give the people what they want, which are the songs that made me famous, plus a few surprises." As a solo artist, Rod was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994, and was selected for induction a second time as a member of The Faces in April 2012. In late November of that year, Rod returned to the top of Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart for the first time in over nineteen years when "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" went to number one. His album, "Merry Christmas, Baby" debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 two weeks earlier on the strength of sales of over 242,000 copies. In late July, 2013, Stewart announced that his stay at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas was being extended for two more years, starting in November. When that run was over, Rod spoke of plans for a reunion of The Faces with his old friend Ron Wood. In a December 2nd interview on Boston's WZLX radio, Stewart said "We're earmarking 2015," which was the 40th anniversary of the band's breakup. However, Ian McLagan died on December 3rd, 2014, and dashed Stewart's earlier plans. Although Rod Wood and Kenney Jones did join Stewart for a couple of songs at Rod's birthday party in January, 2015, plans for a string of Faces shows seemed to evaporate.
In May, 2015, Rod announced a Fall release of his 30th solo album, "Another Country". The title was inspired by Stewart's thoughts about members of the armed forces being away from their families. Fans were also thrilled with the news that he would reunite with fellow Faces members Ronnie Wood (guitar) and Kenney Jones (drums) for a one-time show in Ewhurst, Surrey on September 5th for a Rock 'n' Horsepower benefit show supporting Prostate Cancer research in the U.K. Stewart also announced the extension of his Las Vegas residency at Caesar's Palace with nine more shows in March and April of 2016. Rod also expressed interest in reforming The Jeff Beck Group for a double bill concert with The Faces. When asked about the possibility of retirement, the 70-year-old singer replied "No way! I'm having too much fun. This body still has moves."
For 2016, Rod was slated to perform an eight-week Summer trek through eleven European countries as well as seven shows in the UK in November and December. On October 11th of that year, Rod officially became Sir Roderick David Stewart when he received knighthood from Prince William at Buckingham Palace in London, England. The 71-year-old singer was honored for his services to the music industry and charity work, which included supporting the British Red Cross, Breast Cancer Care and Elton John's AIDS Foundation. In a statement he told the press, "I've led a wonderful life and have had a tremendous career thanks to the generous support of the great British public. This monumental honor has topped it off and I couldn't ask for anything more. I thank Her Majesty and promise to wear it well."
In January, 2017, Stewart announced plans for a joint American tour with Cyndi Lauper starting in Hollywood, Florida on July 6th and wrapping up a little more than a month later in Houston, Texas.