Rod Stewart may be months away from his 74th birthday, but he’s as active as he was when he was 24. He spent the summer touring America with Cyndi Lauper and he’s back on the road now playing more gigs in support of his new LP Blood Red Roses. Just weeks after that run ends, he’ll be back at Caesar’s Palace as part of his ongoing residency at the Las Vegas casino. Somehow he finds the time to raise his two young boys with wife Penny Lancaster and obsess over Glasgow Celtic Football Club to the point where he honestly wants his ashes scattered on their field. We spoke with Rod about love, loss, his complex relationship with Jeff Beck, raising kids and his newfound love of Breaking Bad.
You say on your new album that you can’t even boil an egg. Is that true?
Absolutely true. True, true, true, mate. In the Seventies, it was a different era. We used to have girlfriends we’d shack up with. And then you’d sort of get fed up with them and they’d leave, or you’d kick ’em out. Horrible, but then you realize, “Who’s gonna cook me dinner? Who’s gonna cook me breakfast?” And you find yourself walking down to the local cafe. I’m still absolutely hopeless. I cannot cook to save me life. The last time I tried to make a boiled egg, I had about 20 pans and things out of the cupboard. What a mess. Nothing to be proud of.
Have you ever cooked yourself a meal in your life?
Never. I’ve made a bit of toast and a cup of tea in the afternoon, but other than that, I’ve done nothing. Shameful. Shame on you, Stewart!
Do you ever think about how your life would have turned out if you didn’t develop your singing voice?
Well, that’s the million-dollar question. I don’t know. When I started, it was all I wanted to do. The two things I could do is play soccer, football as we call it here, and sing. I got a chance at being a pro footballer. I didn’t think I was particularly good. I did it because me dad wanted one of his sons to be a footballer. I was the last one, so I gave it a try, but I wasn’t good enough, and it was about the time that I fell into music, so I don’t what I would have done, mate. Christ, that was a scary thought.
What’s the one bit of advice you wish you could give your 20-year-old self?
Probably “Cut back on the drinking.” There isn’t much that I regret. I absorbed all the information I could, all the help that I could, so there’s not much I would change in my twenties. It all went so well for me, from being discovered singing on a railway station, and it just kept going up and up and up and up and up.
But you said you drank too much.
Yeah, we all did. Well, in the Faces we drank a hell of a lot. It was almost like a competition, which one can kill themselves first. No, that’s a bit morbid. It really wasn’t — it was more like which one’s gonna fall down first.
You’ve got two young boys. Do you think you’re a better father in your seventies than you were in your thirties?
Oh, I should hope so. My God. If I haven’t learned the trade now. Children have always been important to me — very important. But I had Kimberly and Sean in the late Seventies when I was considerably in debt, and I had to go out and work a hell of a lot, so I missed a great deal of their growing up. We’ve sat down, and we’ve talked about it. I’ve said, “You know, your dad wasn’t going out, going to parties, and shagging and drinking. I was working me ass off trying to get out of debt.”
I’ve built a lovely AstroTurf pitch for my two youngest boys. One’s 12, and the other one’s seven. We go out there every evening. I try and teach them a few things. That is the most wonderful thing ever, just playing football at my age with your kids.
I read that you just binge-watched all of Breaking Bad.
I don’t even have time for them TV shows, but on our long tour last year I just watched it and just enjoyed it so much. I don’t want to see anything else. People say, “Oh, now you must watch …” I said, “Nothing is as good as Breaking Bad.” But there’s another one now without the main characters. It’s all about Saul, apparently.
It’s really great. You should watch that, too.
Alright. I’ll start watching that tonight.
Who was your favorite character on Breaking Bad?
Jesse Pinkman. He’s just a little shit, but there was something about him that was loyal. He saw through all the bad stuff.
You’re one of the few classic-rock icons that’s not on a farewell tour right now.
Yeah, and I’m also the right side of the grass still, thank the lord. I got in a lot of trouble for slagging Elton off when I maybe should have kept my mouth closed. I was on that program, Whatever Happens Next, where it’s just you get drunk as a skunk. I just said [his farewell tour] reeks of scraping in the money since he’s already said that he’s gonna do more concerts after the 300. I mean, we all have to retire sooner or later, but it certainly is the furthest thing away from me at the moment. I’m having too much fun.
So you’ll never do a farewell tour?
Well, I won’t say never, but I don’t think I’ll do it like that. I haven’t even thought about it, mate. It’ll be a sad day, ’cause it’s been a huge part of my life.
What have you done so far today?
It was a wonderful day today. I’ve got this wonderful indoor swimming pool built here in England. It’s just gorgeous. I’ve spent a lot of money on it, and my two brothers came over today, and we all jumped in the pool. I said, “I bet this is the first time we’ve ever been in any body of water together — the ocean, a pool, anything like it, the three of us.” And it was true. We’d never done it, and my brother, he’s going to be 90 next year. My sister’s gonna be 90 next year, almost. Now the brother’s eighty one, and here he was up and down swimming, and he absolutely loved it. We all looked at each other and said, “Wow, wish mom and dad were here.”
Do you still get the same thrill from performing that you did in your younger years?
Even more so now. What a job I have. I get paid for getting on a stage and singing, sending everybody home happy. It’s not like being a footballer or a sportsman. You can send people home unhappy if you lose, but I’m in a win-win situation. It’s just wonderful.
At what point in your life were you the happiest?
Now. Without a shadow of a doubt, now. I’ve never been so content in all my life. I mean, look at what I’ve got. I mean, apart from the financial side of things, lovely houses, I know that’s all materialistic stuff, but I have the most gorgeous wife, and I have eight wonderful children, and two little ones. It’s just fabulous. They’ll be home from school in a minute. They’re all gonna jump in the pool, and I can’t wait to get in there with them. This is the most wonderful period of my life.
When were you the least happy?
Probably going through the divorce from Rachel Hunter around 1999. But lo and behold, out of the sky came my darling wife, Penny. On the same day that I broke up with Rachel, Penny appeared at the Dorchester hotel. She was dared by one of her friends to go over and ask for Rod Stewart’s autograph, and she did. Talk about a simple twist of fate.
What have you learned about relationships from your many marriages?
First of all, don’t have your arguments when you’ve got a glass of wine and you’re about to go to bed. Wait until the morning. I’m also a much better listener now than I’ve ever been before. 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.
Do fans need to let go of this fantasy that you and Jeff Beck are going to one day put aside your differences and make music together again?
Well, my voice and his guitar is a match made in heaven. It would be a lovely thing to do. It’d be a complete lefthand turn. We did try it once, but we couldn’t see eye to eye — I mean, a serious clash of egos, but you know, never say never. I know it’s a cliché, but really, I’m up for it if he’s up for it. The thing is, we both want to produce. That’s the thing.
A blues-rock record with both you guys could be absolutely explosive.
You’re right. You’re spot on. Well, you put it out there, my man. Let me know what he says.
What’s the most indulgent purchase you ever made?
Wow. It would be a Ferrari Enzo. I bought it for $600,000 and now you can’t get one for under a million and a half. I sold it because I didn’t look into the seating situation. My wife being six foot one and a half couldn’t get into the car. That’s why I sold it. I also spend a lot of money on art and a lot of money on private planes going to watch my football team all over Europe. But you know, anybody whose got the money, I bet would do the same thing. Too many of my friends are under the grass now. Just go ahead and enjoy yourself.
Do your young kids like your music?
The one likes a lot of the rap stuff, which is difficult for the listening, too, because it’s so many of the F and cussing words in there, so we have to be careful. The younger one likes Dad’s music a bit, but they’re both hung up on this Fortnite now. Jesus Christ, they are obsessed. “Dinner is on the table.” “Dad, I’m just finishing the game! Dad, no!” I have to say to them, “If you don’t do what you’re told, I’m gonna cut the Internet off from the whole house.”
Tell me about your fitness routine.
Well, today, I was let off lightly ’cause I had a band dinner last night, and we all got well plastered. But I started off in my gym strengthening legs for half an hour with the rubber bands and things around them. It builds the muscle up, and then I went straight to my new pool and did 12 lengths, and I’ll start doing diving. I’ve got a trainer. It’s like the Navy Seals. He throws a weight in, and then I’ve got to go down and get it, swim back with the weight to the other side of the pool. It’s very interesting. I don’t always love working out, but I certainly couldn’t do it if I was left to my own devices.
How much time do you spend on your hair each day?
I can do my hair, wash it, dry it, get it standing up in 10 minutes at the most. It’s real quick. I’m also just lucky I still got it.