He may travel all over the world and live in a $5 million home in Los Angeles now, but Rod Stewart grew up dirt poor in North London, the youngest of four children.
“I grew up in a very wonderfully loving but poor family,” Stewart said in the second part of a three-part interview with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America. “We were poor. And were we poor.”
Just how poor? Well, Stewart might exaggerate a bit.
“Well, we all used to live in a septic tank,” Stewart said. “My father used to make me lick the pavement when I was a bad boy.”
When he and Sawyer laughed together, Stewart persisted.
“It’s true. The whole family got a box of matches for Christmas to share amongst us. That’s all we got for a Christmas present. Were we poor,” he said.
The Importance of a Good Hair Dryer
The 56-year-old rock star is known for jet-setting all over the world, driving luxurious cars, and his relationships and marriages to a string of beautiful blondes. He plays soccer and stays fit. But how old does he feel inside?
“Well, on the soccer field I feel, you know, like I’m 19 or 20, because I can run forever,” Stewart said. “When I wake up in the morning after a hard night, and I look in the mirror, and I’m 90. I’ve got a good hair dryer.”
How he feels about his appearance depends on where he looks.
“It all depends. I think one should always have nice mirrors in one’s house, you know, well lit,” Stewart said. “As the years advance, we need those things.”
Back in his London days, Stewart acquired the nickname “Rod the Mod.” When he played with the Jeff Beck Group on a tour that started at New York’s Fillmore East in 1968, Stewart’s style won the American crowds over, even though British audiences still didn’t know him yet.
Yet the British rocker said he wouldn’t want to go back to those early days in his career.
“I think I look a lot better now than I did 30 years ago,” Stewart said.
When Sawyer theorized that his appeal to women was that he was “extremely dangerous and sort of safe,” Stewart called it a fair statement.
“There’s always going to be an element of risk in everything we do. Otherwise, it’s not challenging,” he said.
And he has never been, and is not now, bashful about liking women.
“Nothing wrong with that is there, guys?” Stewart asked.
Three Blondes and a Turkey But liking women is one thing. Stewart, who is a father of five, has managed to have three women, the three mothers of his children, for Christmas at his house.
His first wife Alana Hamilton, whom he married in 1979, has two kids with Stewart: 21-year-old Kimberly and Sean, 20. His ex-girlfriend, Kelly Emberg, has one child by Stewart, 13-year-old Ruby. And with Hunter, his second wife, he has two children, Liam, 6, and Renee, 8. On Christmas, the whole group assembled at Stewart’s $5 million estate in Los Angeles.
“Yeah, it was quite remarkable,” Stewart said. “I was married to two of them. But they all offered off their own back to cook me dinner, and they all turned up and did it, and I was very honored. And I thought, ‘Well, I must have done something right with all three of them.’ And it’s now gone down as the evening of the three blondes and a turkey.”
He speaks to all three exes every day.
“You know, when you’ve been in love with someone, you always hold them in the highest order, and you always want good for them and well for them,” Stewart said. “And they all live within three minutes of me, and we’ve all got children together. So we’ve got to be in each other’s lives for the rest of our lives.”
He was recently separated from Hunter, though they are not divorced. Both Hunter and Stewart maintained that she was just too young to get married when she did.
“Yeah, I should have known better,” Stewart said. “She was 21 and I was 45.”
Had they met at a different age, things might have worked out, he said.
“If it had happened now and she would have been 30 and I’d have been 56, I think it’s a little easier because she’s done so much — she would have done so much in those nine years when we weren’t together,” Stewart said.
And he doesn’t mean sex, but rather independence.
“It’s just living the life, you know, choosing your own bathroom soap and being a girl, and she never did that. And she was totally swept up in my life, swept along with a hurricane, and lost her identity,” Stewart said.
‘A Good Shagging Song’
Despite the breakup, Stewart said he’s pleased with the way his life is going.
“I’m very happy. I’m going out with a girl who’s a photographer, 29, 6 foot 1,” Stewart said.
The woman, Penny Lancaster, lives in London and like his other exes, she is a stunning blonde. But unlike the others, she is far from the Hollywood limelight.
“And for the first time in my life, I enjoy being on my own, you know, waking up on my own, and doing things on my own,” Stewart said. “I’ve always been, I think, a bit co-dependent on women. But at least now I’m enjoying my space. I know that’s a corny word, but I love the space. “
His typical day is getting his children up, sitting with them and having breakfast. Becoming a good father is a gradual process.
“There’s always room for improvement. There’s not such a thing as a perfect father,” Stewart said.
The most romantic song in the world to Stewart?
If he had to choose one of his own, Stewart didn’t hesitate to pick a familiar classic.
“I would say definitely 'Tonight’s the Night' — a good shagging song there,” Stewart said with a laugh. “Well, no one knows what shagging means here, do they? Oh, they do now because of those [Austin Powers] films? That used to be a great word here you could use, and none of the Americans knew what it was.”
His favorite phrase in the song is a bit risqué: “Spread your wings and let me come inside.” But the song was never meant to be a high-browed romantic ballad.
“It’s not exactly a romantic song,”Stewart said. “It’s a song of seduction.”
And at some point that seduction might be directed at a 45- or 50-year-old woman, Stewart said when asked about his penchant for younger women.
“I’m getting around to it,” he said. “It’s on the agenda. “
But his boyishness came out a bit when he added a little shout-out to his soccer team, which just won a championship last Sunday. They are part of the FRAM soccer club.
“Well done, lads,” Stewart said. “I’m very proud of you.”