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There are 2 things I can do.. sing and play football; EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY ROD AT 65.


HE wears it well. You bet he does. H a p py birthday Rod Stewart - the age-defying, gravity-busting, tight trouser-clad, 250 million record-selling, jagged-haired icon of British pop.

He's 65 today, but is there any concession to the dawning of pensionable age? Hell no. He's the legend for whom time stands still.

But it could all have been so different.

Thirty minutes before he was born, on January 10, 1945, a German V2 rocket thudded into Highgate police station in North London, just round the corner from Rod's family home.

As Rod himself said years later: "I've always thought that I was very lucky because that bomb fell just a stone's throw from where I lived."

His birthplace may have been 300 miles south of the border but from day one his heart and head belonged back home in Scotland.

Dad Robert was a builder from Edinburgh. His two brothers and two sisters were born in Scotland before Robert and wife Elsie moved south.

And, like father like son, when Robert had any spare cash, he would jump on a train back north to take in Scotland football matches with the Tartan Army.

Five decades of hit-making later, the only difference is that Rod now jets into Hampden Park by private plane. And yet, absurd as it seems given his success, music wasn't even his first passion. When his dad bought him his first guitar for his 14th birthday, young Rod was FURIOUS - he wanted a model railway. When it wasn't trains, it was football, football, football.

His first job was as an apprentice player for West London's Brentford FC but he wasn't cut out for training.

"I had the skill but not the enthusiasm," he later reflected. So he tried his hand at gravedigging and worked in a wallpaper shop.

Slowly the boy whose first record purchase was Eddie Cochran's C'mon Everybody drifted into the bohemian London music scene.

He explained: "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."

It was 1963. Tory Harold "You've never had it so good" Macmillan was Prime Minister.

Beer cost 11p, a loaf of bread cost 6p and a rasping-voiced Rod Stewart, aged 18, signed up as harmonica player and singer with Jimmy Powell & the Five Dimensions.

NOT much came of it - except for penniless Rod being spotted busking by British blues legend Long John Baldry.

If being missed by the German V2 was Rod's first lucky break, then this was his second.

Rod the Mod, as he was known back then, joined Baldry's Hoochie Coochie Men band, then went on tour with Baldry and others as Steampacket, supporting the Rolling Stones in the summer of 1965. Rod was paid pounds 35 a week. "And that was a lot of money back then," he says. "It seemed ridiculous."

With the Sixties well and truly swinging, Rod joined the Jeff Beck group - performing with guitarist Ronnie Wood for the first time. And even if no one realised it then, one of the most legendary unions in music history was formed.

Rod and Ronnie went on to form the Faces - and the rest is history.

The Faces released the single Reason To Believe in September 1971. But they only hit the top of the charts when radio DJs started playing the belting B-side Maggie May.

The song was based on an encounter with the older woman who took Rod's virginity at the Beaulieu Jazz Festival when he was 15. Rod later said: "She'll be in her sixties now. Cor, what a dreadful thought."

Rod signed a solo album deal but it was in the Faces that he cut his teeth. Fast-living, hard-drinking, it was orgies, more groupgies.

And Rod, of s element. He and pete for the biggest otches.

an era of groupies, o ies and more org course, was in his Wood would comp tally of bedpost no There were hun thousands - of wo But it was Swe Ekland who was blonde of the era. and embarked on year fling - but the cheese. ndreds - possibly men.

dish actress Britt the defining Rod They met in 1975 a whirlwind twoey were chalk and Britt thought he My Heart" about h about Celtic. Sh promised to be fai he'd offered to give Rod admitted re me a n d wishes e wrote "You're In her. Actually, it was he thought he'd ithful. He thought e it go.

ecently: "She hates s me dead."

And his former spokesman Tony Toon said memorably: "Britt thought Rod Stewart was going to be faithful. Rod Stewart is faithful to no one. Except his bank manager, maybe." Or as Rod put it a year after the split: "I did my best, but I fell short... like many of us do. I'm still a sucker for a pretty face and a pair of long legs."

But then what else would you expect from a man who once stood up stunningly beautiful actress Joanna Lumley - because he "got caught up" with another lady.

HE may be the grand old man of pop - but back in the Faces with Ronnie Wood, Rod Stewart rocked. Really rocked.

So much so that the Faces were hailed as an inspiration for punk by Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. And their antics certainly lived up to it.

A yellowing Daily Record cutting from October 20, 1975 says it all. Quaintly headlined "Rod Pays For Rampage", it reads like just another day at the office for Rod.

"A rampage through a hotel cost Rod Stewart and his pop group the Faces pounds 2,750 at the weekend. Several TV sets were smashed and some rooms had wallpaper ripped off. On top of the damages, they had to pay pounds 1,500 for 24 rooms they had used."

In today's money that's pounds 26,000. Not bad for a night's work!

Two months later, with Rod's solo career in orbit thanks to monster hit Sailing, the Faces split. And Rod - said to be worth pounds 105million - was well on his way to making a fortune. In 1974 he insisted: "I'm not a millionaire." No one believed him.

It was around this time that Ronnie Wood declared Rod was "tighter than two coats of paint," adding: "It does him physical injury if he does have to pay out".

In truth, wrote Rod's biographer Tim Ewbank, Rod was a big giver to charity, friends and family. He just liked the clashing image of the frugal hedonist. "I think in some ways he's played up to the image of the tight Scotsman," said Tim.

Britt Ekland got in on the act too - saying Rod was "so mean it hurt him to go to the bathroom". But she wasn't, of course, the most neutral observer.

Rod wasn't so prudent when it came to following the Scotland football team, spending thousands to get to games after moving to Hollywood in 1975.

He took part in the infamous pitch invasion at Wembley in 1977 after Scotland beat England 2-1 Later that year, Rod put up a pounds 2,500 bonus for the Scotland team to beat Wales and qualify for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.

Meanwhile, with the Faces now history, Rod went on from Sailing to have a string of solo hits.

He donated the royalties from The 1978 anthem Do Ya Think I'm Sexy to UNICEF - but only after the children's charity had an impassioned internal debate about whether to accept hellraiser Rod as a suitable donor.

Nowadays Do Ya Think... is one of the few back numbers that causes Rod slight embarrassment - it's just too disco for him.

Into the Eighties, he dabbled with the new wave, then released the brilliant Baby Jane, a UK number one in 1983, followed by 1984's Some Guys Have All The Luck in 1984, which reached number 10. Was there ever a man as lucky as Rod? Even he admits there probably wasn't!

AND so, at the grand old age of 65, one of the mostle gendary womanisers in rock has finally found domestic bliss - with third wife Penny Lancaster.

She's 6ft 1in. He's 5ft 10in.

At 38, she's more than a quarter of a century younger than him. And yet they seem the perfect match.

Penny puts his evergreen looks down to their healthy sex life. She says: "The physical side of our relationship is very good. There is a real chemistry between us and we are aware of each other's needs and desires.

"We find it hard to keep our hands off each other. There has always been a strong attraction. When you have that, you are in tune with each other, body and heart. We fit together like a puzzle."

Or maybe it's just third time lucky when it comes to Rod and marriage!

Wife number one was Alana Hamilton, who was previously married to actor George Hamilton. Rod and Alana tied the knot in 1979. It lasted five stormy years and produced two children, Kimberly, 30, and Sean, 29.

Recalling their legendary rows, Rod said: "I'd have every old bottle in the place thrown at me. Alana can be volatile. But I never really fought back. I don't like hitting a woman.

"We did have a punch-up once coming away from a gig in LA. I wanted to go home in the doubledecker bus with the boys in the band, but she screamed at me to get in the limo and stop being so common.

He began an affair with model Kelly Emberg in 1983 and stayed with her until 1990. Kelly is the mother of Rod's daughter Ruby, 22. They split because - surprise, surprise -Rod just couldn't stay faithful.

"Kelly's the most beautiful woman, as honest as the day is long," he said later. "And I sometimes wonder why she ever got mixed up with an a******* like me. I broke her heart, you know. I was sh***ing around when she was pregnant - that's terrible, terrible. I hate myself for it.

"I screwed up every relationship I'd been in. Guys always screw 'em up, women rarely do. It's our wandering eyes - pastures are greener on the other side."

Next was New Zealand model Rachel Hunter, who he wed in 1990. The invitations read: "Reception and p***-u p i m m e d i at e l y f o l l ow i n g ceremony."

According to Rod's ex-housekeeper: "Rachel smiled lovingly as he got to his feet. 'Well,' Rod declared. 'What can I say? You've all seen my wife. I'm as happy as a dog with two *****.'" And for a time, it looked like Rod really had hung up his wandering boots. But then Rachel, mother of Rod's children Renee, 17, and Liam, 15, turned the tables on Rod in 1999, saying she wanted to "find herself".

Rod was gutted. He moaned: "I was faithful to Rachel for nine years, an astounding achievement, and I got a smack in the head for it."

Reports suggested she was infuriated by all the time he spent with another model... his model railway. Worse was to come for Rod in 2000 when he underwent emergency throat surgery to remove a cancerous growth. It took him nine months to get his voice back.

Soon afterwards he met photography student Penny from Essex, 26 years younger and 3ins taller. She asked for an autograph. He invited her to take his photo at a gig the next day.

Penny gave birth to son Alastair in 2005 and they wed in Italy in 2007. With Rod's daughter Sarah Thubron, 45, that's seven children - but he would still like another daughter.

In the meantime, the show goes on. As Rod has said: "I am insecure, but you won't ever hear me being humble about the voice 'cos I know it's brilliant. I really do."

He's got a point. He wears it well, he really does. Happy Birthday, Rod!


A rising star in the Sixties Rod as a cheeky-looking boy In 64' with Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll & Brian Augur With beard in Jeff Beck Group in 1960s Rod (left) & The Faces at 1971 Weeley Festival, Essex Rod's wedding to Alana Hamilton in Beverley Hills in 1979 Dream lifestyle... with Britt Ekland at Rod's luxury home in Los Angeles in 1975 Rod (right) and fellow hellraiser Ronnie Wood on stage in '70s With then-girlfriend Joanna Lumley in 1978 Promoting 1975 hit Sailing in New York Rod, Alana, son Sean and daughter Kimberly in the early Eighties Rod wit th Kelly Emberg in 1987. Their affair lasted from '83-'90 Marrying Rachel Hunter in 1990 With lover Bebe Buell in 1978 On stage in tartan in the Seventies One of his great loves Rachel Hunter (left) & with another, the Scottish football team (above) Rod with Rachel at a charity ball in 1994 With daughter Kimberly, Penny & Kimberly's mum Alana, 2001 Careful... cash in hand in LA Rod and son Alastair on 2008 holiday in France Rod & Penny at Celtic Park on January 3 Rod & Hollywood Hall of Fame star, with Penny & kids Rod & Penny at Olympic Torch Concert in London, '04 With Penny at the Dorchester on her 38th birthday The couple on holiday in St Barts in 2003 His wedding to Penny in Portofino, Italy in 2007
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 10, 2010
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