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06/09/2016

A knight on the town

A salute to Rod Stewart, possessor of one of rock music's great voices and great Ferrari collections

In June of this year, mid-concert at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl in southern England, Rod Stewart announced to the crowd that he would be receiving a knighthood. Sir Roderick Stewart, to give the 71-year-old his now official name, was typically self-effacing about the whole thing and quick to thank his faithful fan base, one that has supported him through a 45-year career.

 

Right there at the beginning of the early 1960s British beat boom, Stewart became a star the following decade after hooking up with The Faces, a band loved by millions on both sides of the Atlantic for their raucous, back-to-basics boogie and boozy on-stage partying. They were, by all accounts, the best night out the early 1970s had to offer.

Rod Stewart on stage in 1971 at Newcastle City Hall  Photo: Getty Images

To give us the necessary courage to go on, slightly under-rehearsed, we used alcohol,’ Stewart admitted in his 2013 autobiography. ‘We were the first band to have a bar on stage.’

 

Heading out on his own with a hugely successful solo career, Sir Roderick may have found himself occasionally lost in a sea of over-produced wishy-washy synths, cod disco beats and lamentable trousers, but through it all the one constant was that incredible voice: a gravelly, bluesy calling card that was one part Sam Cooke, one part north London barrow boy.

Stewart strikes a pose in trademark tartan, 1974  Photo: Getty Images

A loyal Ferrari client since his 1970s heyday, the singer once famously claimed that he’d lost count of how many Prancing Horse models he owned (‘Must have four or five...’) There’s definitely been an Enzo, a 599 GTB and a 575 Superamerica. And then there’s the F430 Spider and F40, both of which have been up for auction in recent years.

 

More recently, he’s been spotted driving around London in a Ferrari California and popping down to the shops in Los Angeles at the wheel of a white 458 Spider (with red interior).

 

‘The Stewarts have longevity on their side,’ he said in an interview. ‘It’s nothing to be ashamed of if you’ve lived your life to the full. Oh, it's all pleasurable. All wonderful. I have lived a great life. I am very happy. It might sound annoying. I can see that. But I am.’

 

Online rumours suggest a new album could well be in the offing next year, one that will see Rod the Mod returning to his R&B roots. In the meantime, he’s still touring (and is playing across Europe in November and December), promoting his third collection of American songbook standards.

At the Royal Theatre, Madrid, earlier this year  Photo: Getty Images

Even in his eighth decade, freshly knighted and now living in true domestic bliss (as well as his Ferraris, Sir Roderick’s other passions include his model railway collection), it seems that you can’t keep an old rocker away from doing what he does best, whether that involves enjoying the sound of his live band in full flow on stage, or the sound of his head-turning 458 Spider, as it pulls up outside a Santa Monica eatery.