As the Mail serialises his astonishingly frank autobiography, Rod Stewart confesses… Women threw themselves at me so much, I just got tired of sex. There was no affection – I wanted real love
07:27 GMT, 5 October 2012
Love life: Rod Stewart, pictured in 1982, admits there was a period in his life where it was a bit 'one in, one out'
If there are more entertaining ways to spend a Monday night than in Rod Stewart’s LA home (until you get booted out, on account of being a gooseberry) they have yet to be discovered.
The first trick is actually finding his home, which shouldn’t really be a problem, given that it is supposedly situated in the most desirable part of Beverly Hills, with Eddie Murphy and Denzel Washington as neighbours. Still, my taxi driver struggles to find it.
‘Understandable,’ says one of Rod’s staff when I eventually negotiate my way through the Tuscan piles and faux French chateaux and armed guards in this bizarre little corner of Tinseltown. ‘Taxis don’t usually come up here. Most people who come here are going to do so in limos.’
For the first hour, much of our interview involves learning to what extent bedroom action was just part of the Rod Stewart daily routine, like brushing his teeth or backcombing that hair.
I feel like asking if I can have a bed myself, not through lust, but sheer exhaustion at keeping up with the evolving cast of Miss Worlds, Playboy models, ex-wives and — how on earth did she end up in the melee — Joanna Lumley.
He looks suitably perplexed himself. ‘I do like a bit of posh, but she was just too posh. She was great fun, but she kept going on about her family tapestries, whatever they were,’ he says.
A picture begins to emerge of a man who can’t have had much time to change the sheets between each encounter.
‘There was a period in my life — and it wasn’t a prolonged one, maybe just a few years — where it was a bit “one in, one out”,’ admits Rod. ‘The girls involved would never have known that, obviously.
There were a few hairy moments in Cannes where my PA was taking one girl to the airport and dropping her off at departures, then haring round to arrivals to pick up the next one.’
Often, he liked to do the collecting himself, lover of the chase that he is. ‘I remember one night I’d driven up to Tramp (the London nightclub) from my home in Windsor, got a girl out of there, drove her back to Windsor and had my way.
'Then I took her back to Tramp and drove all the way back to Windsor with another one — although to be fair, I didn’t do the business with her until next morning.’
To be fair, too, he remembers a lot of detail of that night. Not about the girls, granted, but about the car, which sounds like quite a goer.
‘It was a yellow Lamborghini and I did that drive in about three-quarters of an hour, so she must have been doing about 130mph,’ he whistles, in a manner that suggests that while he may have forgotten the names and faces of many of the leggy lovelies who skipped through his life, he could tell you the make, model and colour of every car he’s ever had.
Those days, though, are gone. At the age of 67, Rod has finally settled down.
Married: At the age of 67, Rod has settled down. He has been with Penny Lancaster, pictured, for more than a decade
His family arrangements — eight
children, by five different women — have always been complex. But he has
been with Penny Lancaster for more than a decade (they’ve been married
for five of those years) and, as even Rod Stewart has to admit, ‘I don’t
get as much as I used to. Once kids come along, it’s not as frequent.’
tonight, he reveals with undisguised glee, is a date night. ‘Penny’s
getting ready now. A chef is cooking us dinner, which we will have on
our balcony, which opens off the bedroom. When we are done we will send
him home and . . . she’d kill me if she knew I was telling you this, but
“Tonight’s The Night . . .” ’
Lordy. He has burst into song. He is on his feet sashaying across the
carpet, in white jeans and trainers. As if on cue a disembodied voice
comes floating into the room. Penny is paging him from the balcony.
It was 'one in, one out' for a few years – but the girls never knew
‘Roddy, dinner in five.’
Time for me to leave . . .
Celtic House (yes, he has named his LA home after his favourite football team) looks like it has been built specifically for a Hello! photoshoot. It is a wisteria-clad, 28,000sq ft playground for a man who, these days, admits he likes to go to bed with a Sotheby’s catalogue.
It is a place of swags and sumptuous sofas, marble and gilt and leather-bound books reaching to the sky — the sort of home tourists expect Buckingham Palace to be, before getting disappointed with the tatty carpets of the real thing.
Most interestingly, perhaps, it famously has an entire floor devoted to his model railway, which is so meticulously tended that you might have thought it belonged to a master craftsman.
It also has a tea room, where, on the dot of 4pm, Rod likes to have tea, and a bar which is more Harry’s Bar than Rovers Return.
As we walk back to the library (a room so vast the entire Celtic squad could use it for training practice; I suspect he’d let them, too), I ask why anyone would need a house this size. He could explain that the sheer size of his collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings demands it, but doesn’t.
‘I do like space, but I suppose that, at this scale, it’s about something else. It’s about enjoying the fruits of your success.’ We are here to talk about his autobiography, which has been written in a similarly frank style.
It’s a startling book, an old-school hold-onto-your-pants (or whip them off, if you are a leggy blonde under a certain age) rock autobiography, crammed full of tales of drink and drug-fuelled excess, told by a man who did just enough of that to make it jaw-dropping, but not so much that he ended up dead by 40.
‘I was incredibly lucky there,’ he admits. ‘I did the drug thing, but never on a daily basis, and never to the point where it was out of control. It was only ever purely social: the occasional “sniff sniff” at a party. I stopped more than ten years ago and yes, it was foolish. I was lucky.’
Maybe women saved him. Or football. Whatever, he says it was worries about performance — in bed, on the pitch — that stopped him ‘becoming a Keith Richards, or worse’.
‘If I was playing football the next day, I didn’t do it, full stop. And I didn’t always drink until I was comatose, because if you’re comatose you can’t pull birds.’
Rod, pictured in the early seventies, said he was the 'biggest a*******' to women
Mostly, of course, his book is about women, and what cads men can be to women. Not that Rod uses the word ‘cad’. How would he put it
‘A*******’ he suggests. ‘Hands up, I was the biggest a******* of all. Even by rock star standards, I was pretty awful. There’s no defence really, although I do always say that any man in my shoes would have done the same.’
That he became more famous for his women than his music is pretty astonishing when even he admits he was ‘no James Bond’. ‘I did all right with girls before, but yeah, it was the fame thing that took it to another level. There is this power that comes with being famous. You can’t understand it if you haven’t been through it, but we were literally peeling the girls off us.’
Was he even particularly good at chatting them up, or did he just have to turn up and be Rod Stewart ‘It was all about the reputation.’ His eyes twinkle.
‘And yes, it does help to be Rod Stewart.’
I'd broken all these hearts, now it was my turn
He says — oh, the irony — that he didn’t go into the music business for the girls.
‘I wanted to get enough money to buy a car, pure and simple. I could only do two things — sing and play football, and I was too lazy to play football professionally. So music it was. With hindsight, it wasn’t a bad choice.’
What with the girls and the football, he sounds, on paper at least, like a proper Jack the Lad, but in person he isn’t at all, and doesn’t mind you pointing it out. Before meeting him I’ve just watched an early TV interview he did with the late Russell Harty, and tell him I am surprised as just how, um, flamboyant he was.
‘You mean gay’ he says. We pull up the clip on YouTube and he falls about laughing. ‘There is a gayness isn’t there — not with Harty, with me! I’m batting my eyelids. Look at me! God, that was a good scarf. Look! I’m walking like a big tart.’
He seems intrigued by his early self. ‘I had this almost Dickensian look. I was quite fragile. Women liked that, and men weren’t threatened by it.’
/10/05/article-2213130-15534446000005DC-667_306x464.jpg” width=”306″ height=”464″ alt=”Besotted: Rod says in Penny he's finally found 'The One'” class=”blkBorder” />
Besotted: Rod says in Penny he's finally found 'The One'
‘If I’d met Penny when I was 30, I’d be in jail.’ Fair point — she is, after all, 26 years his junior.
How many times has he been in love More than you might think.
was definitely in love with all the mothers of my children. Then there
were a few relationships where I thought I was in love.’
And did he ever fail spectacularly in the bedding department
laughs. ‘I had an obsession once with this Brazilian film star, and she
wasn’t interested. I kept trying, like some saddo. It turned out she
was a lesbian, though.’
Of course she was.
/10/05/article-2213130-15377A6D000005DC-84_634x423.jpg” width=”634″ height=”423″ alt=”Rod says he has been faithful to Penny, apart from a six-month period at the start, 'before we started going out proper'” class=”blkBorder” />
Rod says he has been faithful to Penny, apart from a six-month period at the start, 'before we started going out proper'
Whisper it, but I think that Penny
might actually wear the (metaphorical) trousers in this relationship.
He’ll concede that she’s often in the driving seat anyway — if only
because he can’t park. ‘All these fabulous cars I’ve had and I still
can’t do it. I get all sweaty if I have to park my Ferrari Enzo.
‘The number of times we’ve been
somewhere like Harley Street and I’ve gone “oh b*******, Pen, I can’t do
it. I’ll go and get the coffee, you park it, OK darling” And she does.
She goes one, two, three, handbrake and she’s in. She’s a fabulous
And he clearly
takes some handling. He’s a dream host — entertaining, gregarious, fun —
but he likes things done his way. He says he has his first glass of
wine every evening on the dot of seven.
I tell my kids they must earn their own money
A touch obsessive-compulsive
I can go to five past.’ He hates people being late (‘if we take the
family out, they are invariably half an hour late and I hate it’). He’s
not keen on mobile phones, doesn’t have one himself and takes himself
upstairs to his trains if there are too many ringing in the house.It’s
about as far from his upbringing, in a North London terrace, as you can
get. At the peak of his fame, he asked his mum what she’d like for
Christmas. She thought ‘for a bloody month’, he says. ‘Then she said she
couldn’t decide between a new bread bin or a bottle of Charlie
Today some of his
older children, including Kimberly — who’s just given birth to his
first granddaughter, Delilah — live with him, albeit in a guest house in
the vast grounds.
get rid of them,’ he half jokes. ‘It’s lovely having them popping in
and out, and wanting to be a part of my life. I never wanted to go
anywhere with my dad because he was a plumber. They have a dad who is a
rock star, who gets tickets to things.’
Love life: Rod Stewart, pictured in 1982, said there is 'this power that comes with being famous'
Yet it’s complicated. Some of them
are trying to pursue careers as singers or actors, or want to run
nightclubs, ‘which is fine, but I want them to get other jobs while that
‘I’ve had money
issues with them because they feel that they are entitled. And I’ve
said, “No. In my house you are not entitled to anything. You go out and
earn it; I will help you on your way but don’t expect me to start
handing out great big lumps of money so you don’t have to do anything,
because you will end up with a very unhappy life. Don’t expect me to buy
you a car.” ’
That said, he has bought the older ones a car each.
but not expensive ones. Not flash sports cars. There’s a line between
depriving your kids and spoiling them, and sometimes you’re on either
side of the line. It’s an ongoing battle.’ It disappoints him that they
don’t share his work ethic.
‘Work is what makes us feel great. If I haven’t done anything for three weeks, I start to get itchy. I feel guilty about sitting in this big house knowing that I haven’t done any work.
‘But with them — well, I’m not
exactly in a position where I can say “get a job in a bank” when I never
got a negative word from my mum and dad about wanting to be a singer.
incredibly proud of them all but I’m particularly proud right now of
Liam, who’s single-mindedly pursuing his ambition to be a professional
ice hockey player, and Renee, who is a talented and dedicated dancer.
also hard to encourage your kids to live their lives one way, when you
have done exactly the opposite — with drugs, for instance.
we’ve had issues. I won’t name names, but they are all clean now. I can
only say “Look, I did it, but I was lucky. I don’t think you should do
it. But it is your life, your choice.” You can’t force them to do
anything, but they are good kids, deep down. I think they will be OK.’
looks a good ten or 15 years younger than his 67 years, but a brush
with cancer a few years back (he had thyroid cancer) has left its mark
and he’s become quite the medical obsessive.
I'm so hopeless Penny has to park the Ferrari
have blood tests all the time. I’m fascinated with the human body. If a
new machine comes out I want to have a go. I’d have an MRI scan every
week if the doctor would let me.’
He says his greatest wish is to be around until his youngest kids are in their 20s or 30s.
priorities in life are my kids, my marriage, my health and of course my
music. I want to be around, but you never know, do you I could fall
under a bus tomorrow.’
It’s unlikely. If any great tragedy is going to befall Rod Stewart, it’s more likely to involve a yacht or a crashing chandelier.
As he finally heads for the balcony, he reveals that he has grand plans for his and Penny’s next date night.
‘I’m thinking of chartering a boat and taking Pen for a spin out to Catalina Island,’ he says.
‘We can leave the little ones, have dinner on board, but still be back for their bedtime.’
It’s a very Rod Stewart approach to married life, I say. ‘It is,’ he agrees. ‘But it’s great to be Rod Stewart in life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.’
Rod: The autobiography by Rod Stewart will be published by Century on October 11 at 20. To order a copy for 16.99 (p&p free) call 0843 382 0000.