I’d just seen The Faces perform live at The Roundhouse in 1971 when I got notified that my next photographic subject for Sounds was to be Rod Stewart. He was about to release his second solo album, ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’, which would include the smash hit ‘Maggie May’ (originally intended as a B-side to the first single ‘Reason to Believe’) which made him a world-wide star and household name. The album and that single would go to Number One in both the UK and the USA, which I believe had never been done before, not even by The Beatles. (I’m not 100% certain about that, so don’t give me too hard a time if I’ve got it wrong!)
As was often the case, I would only have about 15 minutes with him. What would usually happen when rock stars were either about to go on tour or release a new album was that their management would organise a day of interviews and photo opportunities with the various media and press. I met Rod in his manager’s office in central London. This was a bit dark, being in a basement. I got him to sit down in a chair, but I wasn’t very happy with the way the light from the window was falling on him. For reasons I can’t now remember, I didn’t want to use flash that day. So I asked him to turn around a little to face the window. At that point, a young woman walked past in the street above. “This is brilliant” said Rod in his trademark gravelly croak. “I can see up young ladies’ skirts from here”. Which explains the big happy grin on his face in this picture. I’m still very fond of this shot and have a copy framed in my home.
I only saw him once again after that, backstage at an open-air concert in Crystal Palace a few months later. I was going to go over and say hello, but he was having a big row with Elton John. They were both clearly the worse for drink, and being very catty to each other, so I thought I should probably leave them to it.
In those days he always looked as if he had just got out of bed and needed a shower, so it does tickle me when I see him occasionally being interviewed on TV, addressed as Sir Rod, and got up in a very cool dandified style. He looks great these days and long may he continue. He’s a fantastic singer and an all-round good guy.