On Air Now
Smooth Breakfast with Gary King 6am - 10am
15 November 2018, 16:33
Sir Rod Stewart is undoubtedly one of the greatest popstars of all time.
From his days with the Faces, to his hugely successful solo career to his various albums of big band covers, he has sold over 100 million records worldwide.
He even holds the record for the largest free gig of all time, when he performed to over 3.5 million people in Brazil in 1994. Let that sink in!
To celebrate his amazing career, we've collected just a handful of his very best songs. Is your favourite in there?
This classic song expresses Rod's own experience he had with an older woman. He later recalled: “‘Maggie May’ was more or less a true story, about the first woman I had sex with, at the 1961 Beaulieu Jazz Festival.”
The woman’s name was not Maggie May, and Rod has stated that the name was taken from “an old Liverpudlian song about a prostitute”. It was actually the B-side to ‘Reason to Believe’, but DJs preferred to play this instead.
Originally by American band Crazy Horse, Rod scored a more successful version several years later.
As part of a double-A side with 'The First Cut is the Deepest', the song became rather infamous in the UK, after it was widely believed to have benefitted from chart manipulation by the BBC in order to keep the Sex Pistols' 'God Save The Queen' off the top of the chart. Everything but the Girl later scored their own hit with a cover version.
The title ‘Young Turks’ never actually appears in this song, which centres on the phrase ‘young hearts be free tonight’.
The term ‘Young Turk’, which originates from the same-named secular nationalist reform party of the early 20th century, is slang for a rebellious youth who acts contrary to what is deemed normal by society. It helped bring Rod into the new wave/synthpop era of the early 1980s.
Cat Stevens first recorded this song in 1967, and Rod scored a number one hit with a cover version 10 years later.
It was recorded at the iconic Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama in the States. In 2003, Sheryl Crow released yet another version of the song.
Van Morrison first recorded this song in 1989, and Rod later performed his own version two years later.
The version which was the biggest hit was a live performance for his 1993 album Unplugged and Seated. It reached number five in both the UK and US.
Taken from his 1976 album A Night on the Town, this song was inspired by America's song 'Today's the Day'. Dan Peek later said: "I played 'Today's the Day', the song I had been working on. Rod said that he liked it and that it gave him an idea for a song.
"Of course after his recording of 'Tonight's the Night' came out I laughed when I remembered what he'd said. I'm sure I probably smacked my forehead and said: 'Why didn't I think of that?'"
Taking on a more contemporary synthpop sound, this remains Rod's final UK number one single. Speaking about his writing process, he later said he usually puts off writing words until the last minute.
He said: “The way I do it is hum and hah along while the band are playing. I sing whatever comes into my head and nine times out of 10 that will be the title of the song. Either that or I’d just write down a good title - like ‘Young Turks’ or ‘Baby Jane’ - and wait until the right vehicle comes along for it.”
This track was originally a hit for The Isley Brothers in 1966. Nine years later, Rod scored a hit with a cover version of the song.
In 1989, Rod released another version, this time with Ronald Isley. This release reached the US top 10.
This tells the tale of a friend of the narrator’s, a gay man name Georgie. The song follows Georgie through his life, including being cast out by his parents, before becoming successful and popular in Manhattan’s upper class.
However, he is attacked by a gang and killed. Rod said: “That was a true story about a gay friend of The Faces. But he was knifed or shot, I can’t remember which.” On tackling a gay theme back then, he said: “I think it was a brave step, but it wasn’t a risk. It was a subject that no one had approached before.”