You might not know that the man upholstered in unbuttoned blouses, providing the fever for many '70s Saturday nights, was a pioneer of blues and punk rock. Hell, you might not know that Vitaphone pioneer, Al Jolson was greatly influenced Mr. Sexy's performing style. But you know Rod Stewart's raspy tenor voice when it tickles your ears and raises your heartbeat.
Born Roderick David Stewart, Rod Stewart has jammed with more influential musicians than his jams have made the charts. Beginning his music career as a lead singer for the Ray Davies Quartet (who went on to become the epic Kinks) in the spring of '62, Stewart's resume is studded with more stars than the eyes of his groupies. After a brief stint with the Ray Davies Quartet (Ray Davies gave Stewart the boot shortly after he joined; his voice failed to charm Davies), went through more bands than women (fronting his own group, Rod Stewart & The Moonrakers, teaming up with Jimmy Powell & the Five Dimensions, experimenting with The Hoochie Coochie Men, Soul Agents, and Shotgun Express, singing for the Jeff Beck Group, and joining three former members of Small Faces) before settling with Faces in 1969.
With a cast of Rolling Stones' bassist Ronnie Wood, guitarist Ronnie Lane, keyboardist Ian McLagan, drummer Kenney Jones, and vocalist Rod Stewart, Faces released their debut, First Step, in 1970. With a rock 'n' roll style that mimicked the Rolling Stones, Faces developed a large following but soon disbanded—Stewart's solo career, which he piloted the same year he joined Faces, was the root of many disagreements between band members. But if it weren't for Faces, Rod Stewart may not have concocted the mixture of folk, rock, and country blues that became the foundation for his third solo album (and breakout album), Every Picture Tells a Story. Featuring hits such as "Maggie May" and "Reason to Believe," the 1971 album emerged onto the charts and, with it, Rod Stewart became a household name. Following Every Picture Tells a Story, Rod Stewart crafted nearly an album a year. As prolific as he was, Stewart's discography didn't boast much shine until the release of A Night on the Town (1976), which went two-times multi-platinum.
Rod Stewart rocked hard throughout the late '60s and early '70s. By 1978, he had released eight solo albums and seven albums with Faces (including their live album and three compilation albums). But his success was about to be put on hold following the release of Blondes Have More Fun…or do they? (1978) which showcased Stewart's disintegration from rock to disco and featured the number one U.K. and U.S. single, "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" Though the song embodied Rod Stewart's eccentric glam rock performances, the song didn't fare well with the critics. It was released only a year before the 1979 "Disco Demolition Night," where Chicago DJ Steve Dahl (who parodied Stewart's "Do You Think I'm Sexy?" with his own "Do Ya Think I'm Disco") led a riot, echoing "Disco Sucks" throughout Chicago's Comiskey Park. Rod Stewart later defended himself saying the song wasn't about him and calling his, then, appearance "tarty." The song would remain on Stewart's last number album for 25 years, until his 2004 album, Stardust: the Great American Songbook 3. Rod Stewart persevered, despite the criticism on his ninth solo album, and returned in 1988 with Out of Order, produced buy Duran Duran's Andy Taylor and Chic's Bernard Edwards. With tracks like "Forever Young," "Lost in You," "Crazy About Her," and "My Heart Can't Tell You No," the Billboard Hot 100 couldn't resist Stewart's hits.
Having sold over 100 million records during his career, Rod Stewart has shaped music (for better, or for worse). Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, the '90s proved to be a well-received time for Rod Stewart. He returned to the limelight with his cover of Tom Waits' "Downtown Train," singles like "Rhythm of My Heart" and "The Motown Song," and his collaboration with Tina Turner for the number five song in the U.K., "It Takes Two."
Despite denying rumors of a Faces reunion tour in 2009, Rod Stewart continues to perform solo and with Faces. In fact, Ronnie Wood told Rolling Stone, "It was like no time passed by," when speaking of the five members reuniting for a jam session. Indeed, time has hardly passed by. In May of 2009 Rod Stewart performed on the grand finale of American Idol season 8, forever young and forever cementing his status as an American idol.