The Untold Truth Of Rod Stewart

British music legend Sir Roderick David Stewart, better known as Rod Stewart, is widely celebrated for his contributions to the music industry as a singer and songwriter. Business Insider names him is one of the 50 best-selling musicians of all time ... which is no mean feat. Known for his hit songs like "I Don't Want to Talk About It," "Tonight's the Night," "Have I Told You Lately," "This Old Heart Of Mine," "Baby Jane," and "Maggie May," Stewart is beloved by fans around the globe and is celebrated even today. Here's a fun fact: Stewart is known for having pulled off the biggest free gig ever in 1994, performing for more than 3.5 million people in Brazil, according to Smooth Radio. That's about as epic as a free concert gets.

Rod Stewart's life has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. From his fascination with soccer to his journey in the music industry, his numerous romantic relationships, his many children, and his major health battles, the singer's life is rather fascinating and has been an absolute adventure. Here's a rare deep dive into some of the fascinating anecdotes from the musician's extraordinary life.

Rod Stewart was a part of a big family

Rod Stewart was born in a big family. As he detailed in his book, Rod: The Autobiography, Stewart was his parents' fifth child. Born in January 1945 in London, he was a pampered kid beloved by his family members. The singer wrote an accurate description in his memoir. "'Spoiled rotten' tends to be the shorthand for my childhood. I object to that, on the grounds that materially there wasn't much around to spoil anyone with," he explained.

He added, however, that he couldn't deny that his family did reserve a certain affection for him. He gave one fine example: Before he was born, when Stewart's mom would make rabbit stew, she would divide the heart among her four kids, but after Stewart was born, she would just give him the heart. Another example: Stewart's sister, Mary, always got home from work on Fridays with some kind of toy for her little brother. That was special treatment for sure, and Stewart knew it. His childhood was, by all means, a good and happy time. 

Rod Stewart loves soccer

Rod Stewart was drawn to soccer early on and came from a family of soccer enthusiasts. According to Rod: The Autobiography, his love for soccer was something that Stewart inherited from his brothers and dad. He was, in fact, taken to an iconic soccer match in 1959 at Wembley. England played against Scotland, and popular soccer player Billie Wright got his 100th cap during the match. 

Soccer was such a huge part of Rod Stewart's life that he even tried out with the Brentford Club, according to Hello! magazine. In his autobiography, Stewart said he didn't remember how well he did during the tryout, but the club never called him back. He accepted that his soccer dream was just that: a dream. It was a far bigger blow to his dad than to Stewart himself because the elder Stewart had hoped his son would become a professional soccer player and make a name for himself. What Rod Stewart didn't know at that point was that he was simply meant for something else — his passion was going to be music for the rest of his life.

Rod Stewart loves music

Besides playing soccer, Rod Stewart enjoyed listening to music. One of his early heroes as a child was iconic musician Al Jolson. As per the Argus Leader, Stewart would play Al Jolson records in his bedroom for a good chunk of his teen years. His fascination with those records is said to have majorly influenced him as he worked on his own vocal skills and eventually became a part of the Jeff Beck Group in the 1960s.

Stewart wrote that he wished to recreate the songs he heard and "inhabit them entirely." He borrowed £30 from his brother and used £10 he'd saved up to buy an acoustic guitar for himself. He put together a humble setup with his new guitar and a harmonica in a frame so that he could emulate one of his other heroes, Bob Dylan, a musician who had a significant impact on him in his early years. Stewart was essentially exploring his love for music while listening to songs from his favorite artists and learning more about the kind of songs he loved and wanted to be able to sing himself.

Rod Stewart dropped out of school

Rod Stewart dropped out of school when he was young. Unfortunately, the original idea was to prepare for a professional career as a soccer player. When that didn't work out, he had to look at other ideas and considered working, something that his father encouraged him to do. According to Rod: The Autobiography, academia wasn't something that Stewart enjoyed. He wrote that nobody was taken aback when he didn't pass his Eleven Plus exam and had to switch to a school called William Grimshaw Secondary Modern, where he tried to be a part of the system but didn't particularly enjoy it.

Additionally, toward the end of his time as a school student, Stewart got into trouble with his teachers and was subjected to caning for his behavior. "Soon after that, accompanied by no qualifications and a still lightly throbbing backside, I left," he wrote. Stewart was 15. After this, of course, the Brentford tryout took place and didn't work out as planned, and Stewart started working on his next steps.

Rod Stewart held down various odd jobs before turning to music

When he wasn't sure what to do next, Rod Stewart didn't shy away from doing whatever it took to get by. When his father got him a gig as a screen printer for a wallpaper company, he took it without complaint (as per Rod: The Autobiography). The role was unexpectedly well-paying as far as Stewart was concerned, and he was able to give his parents some of the money for everyday expenses. Sadly, this didn't last very long because Stewart was color-blind, which made things difficult for him on the job. After his screen-printing gig, he held down other odd jobs, such as working with picture frames and then as an electrician, supplemented with a few Saturdays working at Highgate Cemetery.

Stewart knew that he was simply moving from one short-lived gig to another, and none of them were particularly satisfactory before he entered the music industry. Still, he was young, and life was full of possibilities, as he would soon find out when he started to take an active interest in playing musical instruments and making songs of his own.

Rod Stewart struggled before finding success

It wasn't easy for Rod Stewart to break into the music industry. He had no connections and little money. But he was resilient and didn't mind struggling to get to the top and saying yes to every opportunity he got. As explained by AllMusic, this meant being comfortable with collaborating with other musicians, and he toured Europe with folk artist Wizz Jones during the early 1960s. Stewart let nothing bring him down, not even being deported from Spain for vagrancy while on tour with Jones. He returned to England in 1963 and worked with an R&B group from Birmingham called Jimmy Powell & the Five Dimensions. Stewart was a vocalist as well as a harmonica player for the band. 

Stewart wrote about playing in public when he was still a struggling singer. He didn't even know that he was good until he realized that people were giving him song requests while listening to him play. "When that happened, perched on the stones with a small audience gathered around me, I began to realize I had a voice that people would listen to," Stewart said.

Rod Stewart's big break came in 1964

Rod Stewart's big break came along in 1964, when he got a chance to play with Long John Baldry. According to Hello! magazine, Stewart was 19 when he was first approached by Baldry, who saw him performing outside a railway station and was impressed enough to ask him to be a part of his band. The next year was a really good one for Stewart. After playing with Baldry, he earned a spot as the supporting act for the Rolling Stones and then became a part of the Jeff Beck Group. Later, in 1969, he moved on to a group called The Faces and also worked on his solo projects.

Suffice to say, Rod Stewart wasn't afraid of hard work and was comfortable juggling several projects while he was trying to make a mark of his own in the highly competitive music and entertainment industry. His efforts paid off, and he started getting noticed for his work and became well-known in the US as a soloist, delivering popular hits such as "Tonight's The Night" and "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy."

Rod Stewart isn't afraid to experiment

It must be said that Rod Stewart was not afraid to stand out and be different. He was comfortable being an eclectic artist, juggling several styles by working with so many other musicians while building his solo career. Essentially, he put himself, specifically his art, out there and wasn't afraid of the repercussions. As illustrated by Deutsche Welle, Stewart was a brand of his own with the kind of success he managed to achieve. Whether it was first album in his solo career (An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down) or one of his most popular hits ("Maggie May"), his work was considered to be a unique addition to the music scene in the UK that changed the industry in more ways than one.

Rod Stewart was also notorious as a celebrity figure and was often spotted with luxury cars and supermodels. As explained by DW, despite everything, he remained relatable as an artist, which was one of his major strengths and helped him stay popular.

Rod Stewart suffered from prostate cancer

Rod Stewart received bad news in 2017, when doctors diagnosed him with prostate cancer. The musician was gutted by the news and went through a difficult, private battle while fighting the illness for two years, according to the BBC. The singer only went public with his cancer battle after he was cleared by doctors in 2019. "No-one knows this, but I thought this was about time I told everybody. I'm in the clear, now, simply because I caught it early. I have so many tests," he told his audience at a fundraising function. He urged men to not hesitate and to be proactive about getting tested and to stay optimistic throughout the process. "If you're positive, and you work through it and you keep a smile on your face... I've worked two years and I've just been happy," he explained, "and the good Lord looked after me."

This was not the singer's first brush with cancer. He has previously fought thyroid cancer as well, per USA Today. Back in 2001, he revealed to Diane Sawyer that the experience gave him a lot of perspective, especially in terms of acknowledging his mortality and knowing that this could happen to anyone, no matter their age.

Rod Stewart's son has had multiple run-ins with the law

Rod Stewart's health hasn't been his only concern. One of his sons, Sean, has had many legal issues. According to The Mercury News, he has gotten into trouble with the law quite a few times. For example, in 2015 at the Miami International Airport, he decided to climb onto a luggage carousel as a joke, and he ended up in an area that was forbidden to passengers. He had to cough up a fine before being let go.

In 2002, he was jailed for 90 days after he was charged with assaulting a man outside a restaurant in Malibu. In fact, things got ugly enough that actor Dean Cain stepped in, broke up the fight, and called 911. This wasn't the only such incident for Sean — he was named in two different lawsuits accusing him of assault in 2007.

Sean claimed in an interview in 2008 that he has a great relationship with his dad. "We talk almost every single day and hang out when he's in town," he said, "We have breakfast and do father and son stuff, like play soccer."

Rod Stewart has had a complicated love life

Rod Stewart's love life and romantic relationships have been far from straightforward. When asked in a Rolling Stone interview about the lessons he's learned from his three marriages and several relationships, he said that it's a good idea to save arguments for later instead of fighting at the end of the day right before bedtime. For those not in the know, the singer has eight kids from five different women. Stewart revealed that his experiences did make him a better listener. "I let my wife, more or less, have her own way. You should always talk about things, be able to listen and still share romantic things. I'm a terrible old romantic. My wife and I, when the kids go to bed, we have candlelit dinners every night. It's so lovely," he stated.

Stewart was referring to his third wife, Penny Lancaster (pictured above), whom he married in 2007. The couple have been going strong since then.

Rod Stewart says songwriting is tricky

Even for a man as talented as Rod Stewart, it's impossible to be constantly motivated or deliver hits all the time. The singer opened up to The Guardian in 2013 and revealed that he's found himself struggling at times. He said that he's always found it tricky to write songs. He also stated that he was once told by someone at a record company that his songs weren't up to the mark and didn't have anything new about them, a moment which absolutely affected the singer. Stewart elaborated, "Songwriting's never been a natural art for me; it's always been a bit of a struggle. I just thought it had got up and left me. I'd done the best I could and maybe I'd got nothing to write about any more."

When it comes to penning lyrics, the musician has learned to wait until the last minute to get to finishing them. He prefers humming along with the band and listening to his instinct while coming up with, for example, the song's title. He's also of the opinion that his voice quality has improved over the years. "I've got much better pitch, much better control, much better understanding of a song," he explained. "I've always been able to get inside a song really easily, and if it's my song I can make it seem honest."

Rod Stewart has had a powerful impact on the music industry

Whatever your impression of Rod Stewart may be, it's difficult to argue that the singer hasn't left behind a unique legacy in the music industry that's hard to define. As a Rolling Stone profile illustrated, Stewart has the kind of voice that's emotional and immensely powerful. Stewart said that his voice and fame are things that surprise him. "It never ceases to amaze me that all this fuss, this huge million-dollar industry that I've created around myself, all comes down to two muscles that bang together in my throat. Weird, isn't it?" he said.

Stewart has also managed to stay relevant through the years, seemingly unaffected by the passage of time. As Forbes pointed out, the singer hasn't been afraid to evolve with time and keep up with the changing demands of the music industry in a career that has spanned several generations.