SPARE THE ROD
It’s easy to think of him as some kind of tabloid-pleasing cabaret act, but Rod Stewart made his name as one of the most inspired talents of the 70s. Forty years on from its original release, Dave Lewis unfolds the story of his classic Never A Dull Moment and explains why the time is ripe to reappraise his peak-era output
On the evening of Thursday 30 September 1971, Rod Stewart performed Maggie May on Top Of The Pops. Accompanied by The Faces, the ramshackle nature of the performance immediately captured the hearts of the British record buying public. In its own way, this TV slot was every bit as iconic as David Bowie’s unveiling of Ziggy Stardust would be some six months later.
Here was singer and band determined to have fun, be it kicking footballs around the stage or employing the non-musical talents of DJ John Peel to “play” the mandolin. This approach acted as the perfect antidote to the doom and gloom of early 70s Britain with its industrial unrest, terrorist bombings, and record unemployment for the post-war era.
The song, a paean to an older lady to whom Rod had lost his virginity at the Beaulieu Jazz festival in the early 60s, launched the singer on the path to international stardom. Within weeks of this TV appearance, the single and album it was taken from, Every Picture Tells A Story, were simultaneously No 1 on both sides of the Atlantic.
After years of toiling on the blues-rock circuit, Roderick David Stewart had arrived.
The Highgate-born former beatnik had served a long apprenticeship, including stints with Steampacket, Shotgun Express and The Jeff Beck Group. In September 1969, Rod, along with fellow Beck …
by Dave Lewis
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