Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Add this to the Xmas Book List: Rod: The Autobiography by Rod Stewart

He's a strange figure, Old Spiky hair.  Massively successful but, despite having been in the Faces and the Jeff Beck Group, never quite cool enough. He doesn't feel part of the the world of rock and pop – or at least never has in my lifetime – despite selling a staggering number of vinyl.

On paper he's the perfect rock star. The book even starts with a down to earth moment of a bird strike during the take off of his private jet, which his was wisked off to following a concert in Europe.  Very Rock'n'Roll - as was the life-reality check on his own life, position and the all emcompassing question: "How did I get Here?" 

It should be noted and praised that the best rock star memoirs steer clear of nonsense about personal journeys, formulaic expressions of regret over drug use and sexual highjinks, or emetic tributes to the love that saved their lives. This is not a Woman's Weekly anthology.  I don't want to hear about the anguish: I want somewhere for fantasy to flourish. The spirit should be: "How sad and bad and mad it was – / But then, how it was sweet!"

I wonder if a Ghost Writer was on board, did Stewart wriote all of Rod himself?  If he did he did he deserves respect and if he didn't I hope his spectre – rumoured to be journalist Giles Smith – gets a decent slice! The writing is a cut above the workmanlike "I was there" stuff!   The tone is pitched right, jokes good. Each chapter's got a whimsical 18th-century-style subheading, beginning with the dry: "In which our hero is born, just over six years of global conflict ending shortly thereafter ..."  Stewart clearly doesn't take it all too seriously.  I like.

Tossed around are digressions on various pet subjects like the subject of his hair.  He's had the same hairstyle for 45 years ("It's what I have in common with the Queen" Right!). He paints delightful portraits of early days: he and Ron Wood spending hours tenderly arranging each-other's barnets apparently.  MMMM.

The heart of the book is in the opening 100 or so pages: the fierce excitement of young manhood and the crossing-over from fandom to performance; the exhilaration of American folk, blues and soul; the buzz of that germinal Stones/Who/Yardbirds/Faces/Jeff Beck Group scene. All well encapsulated.  Actually this is the best part of Rod's life. If you care not for the Wives, the day-glo and the excesses of the 80's or the Sinatra impersionations and Xmas smultz (out now, apparently) then stop now.  If you NEED to know about the relationshps and his connection with our Rachael then read one.

Note there is plenty of sex. Blonde on blonde! they have more fun! Yeah, I know!  At one point he swanks about cheating on one Playboy model with another Playboy model; at another, about sneaking out for a first date with Kelly Emberg while still married to his first wife, then leaving that date (smitten, he tells us) to climb into bed with his mistress.

What is his secret? "Hello darlin' – what you got in that handbag?" is the chat-up line he swears by, apparently. During his relationship with Britt Ekland (she called him "Soddy" and he called her "Poopy", for reasons we are left to guess at) he sent her the following telegram in response to her request for a love-letter: "Tired of pulling me plonker. Please come home."  Yep, that'll do it!

"Romantic" though such details are, you find yourself souring a little at quite how badly he behaved: ending long-term relationships by publicly and humiliatingly flaunting his infidelity - "Less than gentlemanly – This, clearly, was the behaviour of an arsehole." Still, he's also kind of pleased with himself.

Nota : Rachel Hunter broke his heart. She was 21 when they met. They spent eight years together and she was the only woman to date he didn't betray: "I've put my last banana in the fruit bowl," he assured reporters. Sadly, that fruit bowl went off in search of fresher fruit.  Now, he assures us, he's found the love of his life (his third wife Penny Lancaster. Right.  Let's See how that goes, eh!

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