ROD, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Rod Stewart (Crown Archetype), 394 pages, $30 cloth. Rating: NNNN
Although his music career lost whatever critical cred it had circa 1978 with the platinum-selling Da Ya Think I'm Sexy, Rod Stewart has certainly led a charmed life. And these nearly 400 well-written pages prove it, from his early days back in the 60s as teenage backup singer for Long John Baldry to his current incarnation as the official interpreter of the Great American Songbook.
Along the way, we run into a rogue's gallery of bad-boy rock stars, from the taciturn Jeff Beck, who gives Stewart his first big break, then promptly fires him, to a randy Mick Jagger, who suggests a little wife-swapping along with the non-stop pharmaceutical cocaine. And then there's the endless parade of supermodel girlfriends who get unceremoniously dumped for someone younger. And who knew that his passion for models ran to model railroading as well?
While owning up to being a despicable cad ("I thought that kind of behaviour came with the job"), Stewart clears up several urban myths about himself. No, he never played professional soccer (he tried out for a team, but they never called him back) and he did not dig graves for a living, though he did work for a mortuary for two days measuring plots.
And most famously of all, he's never had his stomach pumped of anything, including the ejaculate of 17 American sailors - the semen of seamen? - a rumour started by a disgruntled former press secretary.
The notoriously thrifty Scot also offers financial advice (when out at the bar with friends, be the first to open the door but the last to walk through it, so they pay for the drinks) and a look into his skin-care regimen ("Moisturizing is the key, ladies and gentlemen: plenty of Oil of Olay").
He even devotes a chapter to his hair and how he gets it that way (sugar water and an upside-down hairdryer).
For the perfect soundtrack, dig out the Immediate singles, the first two Beck Group discs and the first three solo LPs and remember when Rod the Mod really mattered.
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