How Rod Stewart Thrilled Vegas, Reunited Faces, Found Happiness at 70
It’s 109 degrees in Las Vegas as Rod Stewart lands at McCarran Airport in a private jet, three hours before his show at Caesars Palace. After taking off from an airfield near his home in Beverly Hills, Stewart spent the 45-minute flight nibbling tea sandwiches, inhaling steam from a humidifier to preserve his voice and fidgeting in the strangely overheated cabin.
“Can we get off this hot plane?” he says to the flight attendant. “We were flying at 30,000 feet, where it must be freezing cold. Why is the plane so hot?” His irritation grows when he learns the limo driver who’s supposed to take him to the casino is lost. Stewart, dressed in a blue gingham suit, walks into the cockpit to ask about the heat, but the pilot barely gets three words in before Stewart’s 28-year-old daughter, Ruby, pulls her dad down the stairs. Stewart immediately forgets the inconvenience, changing the subject, as he so often does, to soccer. What seems like the early stages of a meltdown turns out to be just a brief detour from Stewart’s usual happy-go-lucky demeanor — the easy charm of a natural-born crowd-pleaser for whom life has been very good for a very long time.
In the five decades since he was discovered playing harmonica in a train station outside London, he has racked up 31 Top 40 hits, released 29 solo albums, fronted two of the best bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s, dated a parade of leggy blond models, fathered eight kids (with five women), and earned, according to low estimates, $235 million. Tonight’s show at Caesars Palace will pull in roughly $450,000, and it’s the 111th one he’s done in the past three years.
Stewart’s voice was recently back in the Hot 100 for the first time in more than a decade, thanks to A$AP Rocky‘s “Everyday,” which generously sampled “In a Broken Dream,” an obscure 1968 song Stewart sang with the Australian rock band Python Lee Jackson. In July, Stewart and Rocky sang “Everyday” with CBS late-night host James Corden in a hilarious Carpool Karaoke sketch that’s been viewed on YouTube over 8 million times. Rod hasn’t seen it and is surprised to hear it was so popular. “I don’t like looking at myself,” he says. “That’s refreshing to hear, though.”
More significantly, Stewart recently started writing songs again for the first time in two decades. “I’ve always tortured myself and thought, ‘You’re a pretend songwriter. You’re a performer,’” he says. But working on his 2012 memoir, Rod: The Autobiography, unlocked something in his brain, and soon, he had enough new songs to fill out both 2013’s Time (which generated rave reviews and became his first Number One LP in England since 1976’s A Night on the Town) and his stellar upcoming album, Another Country, out October 23rd.
His old gift came back partly out of necessity. “I’d done the Great American Songbook albums,” he says. “I’d done a soul album. I’d done a rock [covers] album. I backed myself into an alley because there’s not much left to do except write.” He recorded Another Country in the library of his estate. “It just cost $130,000,” he says proudly. “In the old days, that was a week in the studio.”