ROD: The autobiography

(Random House/Struik, R230)

Have you ever wondered what performers do once they’ve left the stage and the audience is left stomping their feet, clapping and calling for more? “Doing a runner” is what Rod Stewart calls it in the opening chapter of his just released autobiography ROD.

It’s a great trip down memory lane for those who know him as the father of Kimberley Stewart, BFF of Paris Hilton, and for the not-so-young of the good old days of the 1960s and 1970s.

Before stardom came along, Roderick David Stewart CBE led a pretty normal life in the north of London. Despite being a Londoner, he’s an unashamed fan of Scottish football.

We all know he’s had plenty of women, usually half his age, resulting in eight children, and just recently a grandchild, but this frank telling of his life so far goes far beyond that.

Born towards the end of of World War II, Rod’s formative years were in the 1960s, and some of his first professional gigs were with the Jeff Beck Group, The Yardbirds and the Faces. He and Jeff Beck almost played a concert on a farm just outside New York but because of circumstances they didn’t – the festival was Woodstock. In 1971, Maggie May launched Stewart’s solo career and the rest is history.

The book is written in Rod’s own words, warts and all. He’s open about his drinking and recreational cocaine use. He considers himself lucky that he didn’t progress to LSD, unlike many rock stars he knew – Keith Moon of The Who, and The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones who died as a result.

With his rock ’n’ roll days pretty much over, he’s found another niche, releasing albums of cover songs from soul, R&B, and classic rock. Last year he was offered a two-year residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. He has sold 200 million records, has been inducted into the Hall of Fame twice and has played the world’s largest concert (3.5 million people – Guiness Book of World Records) in Rio. “Not bad for a guy with a frog in this throat,” he says. – Elaine Ash