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Topic: Rod talks about Ronnie... Return to archive Page: 1 2
02-20-04 11:42 AM
parmeda There's a great photo of FACES that accompanied this article. If anyone wants to see it, I can scan it and send it to Voo...

Chicago SunTimes
February 20, 2004


Rod Stewart is one of the most enigmatic stories in rock 'n' roll. He has an amazing pedigree. After woodshedding with Mick Fleetwood, Stewart broke out of England in 1968 with The Jeff Beck Group. By 1969 Stewart and Beck bassist Ron Wood helped form Faces, the sloppy rock 'n' roll band by which all others should be measured.

But for the last 30 years Stewart fans have had to endure disco, spandex, synth-rock, writer's block, and now this "Great American Songbook" stuff where Stewart sings "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" with Cher. Are there any Stewart fans left?

I am still a faint follower, but it broke my heart to listen to Stewart's "As Time Goes By ... The Great American Songbook: Vol II" that brings Stewart to town for a show tonight at the Allstate Arena. Other people like Harry Connick Jr., and Ronald Isley (a 1990s Stewart collaborator) are doing the standards and they are doing them with much more conviction. Stewart sounds like a bloke at Ditka's piano bar.

"This is an album I don't think I could have recorded 25 years ago," Stewart said in a recent teleconference interview. "I'm mature enough now to do this sort of stuff. There was a risk. Me, a dyed-in-the-wool rocker, suddenly turning towards these songs written in the '30s and '40s. I felt like I was almost being a rock 'n' roll traitor. But it's something I always wanted to do. I'm past pleasing other people."

A teleconference setup; that's what's become of Stewart, 58. The teleconference gimmick is reserved for the likes of Britney Spears and Garth Brooks to maintain control. Yet, Stewart didn't mind talking about his past.

The mind-boggling separation in style -- from Stewart belting out Willie Dixon's "You Shook Me" in his Jeff Beck days to singing "I Only Have Eyes For You" -- surely has given him a new spin on his legacy.

Stewart hasn't been on a major label since 2001 when he left Atlantic after releasing "Human," whose only saving grace was a splendid take on Curtis Mayfield's "It Was Love That We Needed." Stewart had been with the Warner Music Group for 25 years.

In 2002, Stewart hooked up with Clive Davis and J Records to record "It Had to Be You ... The Great American Songbook (Vol. 1)." Davis recruited producer Phil Ramone who did the matchmaking on the Frank Sinatra "Duets" projects. "Songbook" sold more than 4 million copies.

Tonight, expect Stewart to devote the first hour of the show to greatest hits. After intermission he will return to sing a half-hour of the standards, which gives the gentlemen in the audience ample time to apply 1970s Brut cologne. Stewart plans to conclude with "three or four that everybody knows." Stewart will front an 11-piece band along with a 10-piece orchestra.

Stewart credits his 2000 vocal operation, which removed a benign growth from his thyroid, for his saccharine approach to the songbook material.

"After the operation, I had to lower the keys of all the other songs," he explained. "So the voice is half a step deeper than it was before the operation. That gave me a sweetness."

But the sweetness is more distracting than the smooth, silky approach Stewart brought to 1976's "A Night on the Town," (that included Cat Stevens' "The First Cut Is the Deepest," a current hit for Sheryl Crow) and his terribly underrated "Atlantic Crossing" (1975) with a splendid cover of Danny Whitten's "I Don't Want To Talk About It."

Stewart also was willing to talk about Faces.

They are the best rock band I have seen in a big arena. My first major rock show was back in 1972 when the Faces took over the old Chicago Stadium (with Mahavishnu Orchestra opening). Faces began the show with heralding trumpeters before launching into ragged but right versions of "Stay With Me," "Gasoline Alley," "Miss Judy's Farm" and Chuck Berry's "Memphis."

The band swigged champagne and Pimms No. 1 from bottles and Stewart twirled his microphone in mid-air. The chaos was essential in the spiritual development of a 17-year-old kid from Naperville. Faces were a raunchy respite from the dawn of disco.

A Faces box set is due out next month and Stewart is working on an album called "You Strum and I'll Sing" with ex-Faces guitarist Ronnie Wood, currently with the Rolling Stones. Stewart and Wood last collaborated on Stewart's "Unplugged" record.

"Providing the Stones don't go on another tour next year, and when I've finished this tour [in the middle of] this year, we're going to try and finish it off with the help of the Stereophonics," Stewart said. "Ronnie is as close as you could get to a brother to me. But as far as the music goes, he's a lyrical guitar player. He never comes up with a chord structure and says, 'Write some lyrics for these chords.' He'll come and help you with the melody."

Stewart said that Wood wrote "You Strum and I'll Sing" for "Tonight's The Night," the Stewart musical that opened last fall in London. The all-dancing, all-singing story/musical (co-produced by Stewart's manager Arnold Stiefel) features more than 20 of Stewart's tunes as well as Wood's original.

"It goes down well in my musical, even though people don't know it," Stewart said. "Woody's a very underrated songwriter and a very underrated bass player as well. He played bass on all of my first three albums."

Stewart didn't even rule out a Faces reunion, although bassist Ronnie Lane died in 1997 after a two-decade fight with multiple sclerosis.

"Ronnie was the engine of the Faces," he said. "The only time we'd do a Faces reunion would be for a wonderful charity."

Faces keyboardist Ian MacLagan is releasing solo albums and has collaborated with Billy Bragg. Drummer Kenney Jones was recruited by the Who and now tours with his own band.

"The Faces seem to be having a resurgence," Stewart said. "It's probably because bands like Oasis and the Stereophonics have paid homage to the Faces. The fans of those bands wanted to look back, like we all do when we get into music. We want to go back to the source. So its nice to see them [Faces] get a bit of acclaim."

Stewart was less heartfelt in his remembrances of Jeff Beck. As members of the Jeff Beck Group, Stewart, Wood, the former Yardbird guitarist and future Stewart drummer Mickey Waller collaborated on two albums; 1968's "Truth" and 1969's "Beck-Ola."

"Jeff and I were never great mates," Stewart said. "And I don't think him and Woody were great mates. I think Jeff was a little jealous of the relationship between me and Woody. But it was the best band to be in because we only had one guitar player, which left lots of gaps for me to sing. It was a tremendous learning experience. It was the first band I came to America with, and the first time we played the Fillmore East, the story about me hiding behind the amps is true because I was scared s------- of singing in front of a New York audience. Jeff is a great guitar player, but socially we didn't ever quite get on."

As for future solo projects, it makes more sense for Stewart to record an album of rhythm and blues covers by the likes of his heroes like Sam Cooke and Jesse Belvin than it does to sing more torch songs. His appreciation of American rhythm and blues is unbending. When Mary Wells was dying of throat cancer in 1992 and did not have insurance, Stewart donated $10,000 to a fund in her name.

"We were actually going to do an R & B album this year," Stewart said. "But we'd be foolish not to finish off [three] of these standard albums. So that could happen next year. [Soul singers] Joe Tex. Solomon Burke. Don Covay. You could go on and on. This would be a labor of love, something I've always wanted to do. That's probably got more of a chance coming up than the Ronnie [Wood] album. He's got a few projects he's got to finish off."

Chicago SunTimes
February 20, 2004

BY Dave Hoekstra Staff Reporter

When it comes to Grammy Awards, some guys have all the luck.

Rod Stewart has 13 Grammy nominations under his belt, including this year's best traditional pop vocal album for "As Time Goes By -- The Great American Songbook: Vol. 2." He lost to "A Wonderful Word," Tony Bennett and k.d. Lang's tribute to Louis Armstrong.

Stewart has never won a Grammy. He lost last year, his most recent nomination, with the first volume of "The Great American Songbook."

"It would be nice to win one before I'm on the wrong side of the grass," the former gravedigger said in an interview a few days before this year's Grammys. "I can show it to my kids because they're always carrying on, 'Well Sting's got 20,000 of them. You haven't got any, Dad. What's wrong with you?"

Most fans didn't realize Stewart even had 13 nominations until last October when he told Radio Times that it was "astounding" that he had never won a Grammy.

"They tend not to give it to the British unless you're Sting," Stewart told the magazine. Sting responded that Stewart did deserve a Grammy, and jokingly offered to send him one of his 15 awards.

Earlier this month Stewart told the Sun-Times his remark was "meant to be a bit of a laugh." Then he continued, "But they do lean more towards American artists than they do British. I think the Stones have only won one [they've actually won two; in 1995 for best rock album ("Voodoo Lounge") and best music video/short form], the Beatles haven't won any. And Led Zeppelin never won a Grammy. You have to understand this has been going on for 25 years between me and Sting. This is nothing new and it certainly isn't malicious. When I wrote and carved into an airplane chair that he was a miserable old bastard, he went around and padlocked my Beverly Hills gates at my mansion from the outside and ran off."

This year Sting won his 16th Grammy for a collaboration with Mary J. Blige.
02-20-04 11:53 AM
steel driving hammer Nice read Parmy.

Still wanna see those American Thighs...
02-20-04 11:55 AM
Ten Thousand Motels Rod Stewart is one of the few artists who actually get worse every year. Maybe quality goes down when one gives in to "grammy lust".
02-20-04 11:57 AM
steel driving hammer
Ten Thousand Motels wrote:
Rod Stewart is one of the few artists who actually get worse every year.

No he isn't.
02-20-04 12:24 PM
T&A Rod's still Rod. Got that great voice. I can understand those who are frustrated with his musical choices (personally, I love the standards albums) - but no way he "gets worse every year." The voice and charisma are still there - I'm looking forward to seeing him in San Jose next month.
02-20-04 12:53 PM
jb Rod Stewart sucks and is an embarrassment to any real fan of rock and roll. No real Stones fan would accept what he is doing . My only hope is that Woody permanently joins him and Mick Taylor returns to were he belongs-the lead guitarist of the rolling Stones.
02-20-04 01:12 PM
Nellcote Well, Mr. Lawyer, I for one am happy to admit to this day, Mr. Stewart remains one of the best of rock's soul singers of his time. As Woody has mentioned, he has strayed a bit with his torch ballads, however, when one sees the music he came in with, Python Lee Jackson numbers and the like, the schmaltzy stuff makes sense. I think it may have also allowed him to recover from the throat cancer matter easier. Just last evening did I pull out my Faces dvd of numbers from 69-74, ah, what a band! And as for your frequent off color comments on Ronnie
Wood, you could be no further from the truth. A true "engine" for both the Faces & The Stones is one Mr. Ronald Wood.

JB, I now have figured you out. Much like some might say like a nasty bit of psoriasis. something one can liberate himself from temporarily, however, it always comes back...

Thanks Parmy for the read. If anyone wants a good hoot from the most prolific of Faces, go to for Ian McGlagan. He's the end all of Faces info, and has a platinum pedigree for a sideman....
02-20-04 01:48 PM
parmeda Josh, I'm surprised!
I'm going to take photos tonight and make sure I send you some
02-20-04 01:54 PM
parmeda wrote:
Josh, I'm surprised!
I'm going to take photos tonight and make sure I send you some

parmeda when do I get to cash in my rain check for drinks?
02-20-04 01:56 PM
jb Pam, I love you anyway!!! I better see you at the Garden in 05!!!
02-20-04 02:06 PM
glencar I happen to be in the middle of "All The Rage" by Ian McLagan so this thread is timely. It's actually well-written & Ian doesn't excuse any of his bad behavior. It's much, much crisper than "Stone Alone" by Bill W. I'm 2/3 through but I get the feeling Ian hates Rod.
02-20-04 02:08 PM
T&A I not only accept what Rod's up to - I whole-heartedly embrace it. Josh - you tellin' ME I'm not a true Stones fan? You come tell me that to my face, dude! :-)
02-20-04 02:09 PM
T&A Glencar - that's a great read, all the of the top 2 or 3 rock'n'roll autobio's i've read (Papa John and David Crosby's are up there, too). The funniest part about Mac's book is how well he recalls the post-gig parties, but he can't seem to remember much about the gigs (the actual music) themselves!
02-20-04 02:10 PM
glencar Rod's current output is crap.
02-20-04 02:11 PM
glencar T&A, I have had the book for some time & kept putting it off but then I started it Tuesday night & I've been unstoppable. Well, except for my incessant posting vs. Joshy...
02-20-04 02:34 PM
jb T&A-what is your age, height, weight, and shoe size?
02-20-04 02:35 PM
T&A 44, 6-4, 240, size 13...and I work out.
02-20-04 02:38 PM
jb Wow, your a big dude!!! I'm 41, 6'2, 219, and wear and 11 1/2 inch shoe. I think I would rather talk to you over the net.
[Edited by jb]
02-20-04 02:42 PM
Factory Girl Hey T&A, you're every bit a stud muffin!
Are you sure you're not 4'6 and 420lbs??? rotfl... I'm just kidding!

However, Rod is a weenie.
02-20-04 02:42 PM
glencar Geez! At first I thought you were asking for more nefarious reasons.
02-20-04 02:48 PM
Factory Girl Glencar, you've found me out. I have a obese midget fetish...rotfl.
02-20-04 02:50 PM
McQueen Mr. JB you're getting fat!!

Lose that ass dude.

Gotta stay rail thin man. Nothins more sexy than that concentration camp look, dig?
02-20-04 02:50 PM
gypsy Two words: "Forever Young."
02-20-04 02:53 PM
glencar FG, my post was actually aimed at Joshy's weird question about T&A's body stats. Sorry for the misunderstanding. But it's good to know you like midgets. I beleive Joey is quite short in some areas.
02-20-04 03:03 PM
Factory Girl LOL, glencar-there is on line shrinkage???
02-21-04 02:30 AM
Riff-Hard-Fan Now Now Now...The only problem with ol' Rod is that that's exactly what he is ....Old. Some people never get old like the Stones ya know? They have found the fountain of youth, it's Rock N Roll! It's not Rod's fault, he was good back in the 70's. Look at Keef ...Man Rod needs to take some lessons from him !
02-21-04 09:53 AM
LadyJane Wake up..Parmeda!!

I'm waiting for your review of the show!!

02-21-04 10:11 AM
jb wrote:
Rod Stewart sucks and is an embarrassment to any real fan of rock and roll. No real Stones fan would accept what he is doing . My only hope is that Woody permanently joins him and Mick Taylor returns to were he belongs-the lead guitarist of the rolling Stones.

You need to go away again...this time for good...
02-21-04 12:04 PM
glencar Why the sugarcoating?
02-21-04 12:37 PM
throbby Nice read Parmeda! How was the show?
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