Rod Stewart has lived his 74 years "to the limit". More than four decades as a rock star have brought him innumerable hits, awards, including the title of Sir, and international fame. The son of a Scottish master builder living in London, who started out as a busker in the 1960s, is due to play to thousands in Fuengirola this Wednesday night.
At this stage in his career, Sir Rod appears to have everything. But is there anything he has yet to achieve?, we enquired in the exclusive interview he gave to the SUR group prior to his Costa concert.
“For Celtic to get in the last 16 of the Champions League,” was his reply.
He may have (almost) everything but sitting back on his laurels is not among his plans. “Energy, the element of surprise and being able to express myself,” is what he says keeps him hooked on the life of a rock star.
The British star with his gravelly voice and carefully dishevelled blond hair still appears on stages around the world with a playlist full of timeless songs.
This Wednesday he is due to pour out all his energy out onto the 9,000-strong crowd on Fuengirola’s Marenostrum stage, at the foot of Sohail Castle, one of just two concerts in Spain this year.
Six trucks and five buses have brought his equipment to Fuengirola, and the whole show involves 120 people from roadies to local recruits. Front and side panels, lighting effects and six backing singers and dancers promise to make the show all the more spectacular.
It’s 14 years since Rod Stewart last performed on the Costa del Sol; his last visit being in 2005 at the Mijas racecourse.
Before he arrived, however, he agreed to answer this newspaper's questions about his career and his opinions on issues such as Brexit by email.
He is asked about Donald Trump, whom he has in the past referred to as a “friend”, but in the return email this question has been erased. It has been replaced with: “What memories do you have of your time spent on the Costa del Sol?”
“I had a house in Estepona and I only have fond memories of colourful holidays,” is his reply.
So we never found out what advice he would give to the US president, but Rod Stewart did make his position on the current situation in the UK very clear.
“I have strong thoughts on Brexit,” says the London-born musician of Scottish origin. “At the moment basically I feel the same way as most British people, tired of procrastination, tired of politicians who are full of self-interest. I am all for a second referendum because we were lied to in the run-up to the first.”
No beating around the bush there, then. He speaks as Rod the artist and Rod the individual as he maintains they are the same person: “I don’t think there’s much difference from my stage persona to my own persona,” he explains.
“Being able to hopefully make people happy,” is among the factors that motivate Stewart to keep his career going, releasing new records, despite fans demanding to hear old favourites such as Maggie May, Forever Young, Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?, among others.
Of course tracks from his latest album, Blood Red Roses, appear on his playlist. His songs, he says, are stories with “a beginning, a middle and an end” and are the result of “having lived a full life”. That’s where his inspiration comes from, he says.
Nevertheless he is aware that things are very different today from when he started out in the business. He admits that with the rise in the feminist movement and initiatives such as #MeToo, today some of his earlier lyrics would not be approved of. “Hot Legs, Stay With Me, Do Ya Think I’m Sexy, Tonight’s the Night... I could go on and on, but that was then and this is now,” he points out.
Before his musical success the young Rod Stewart tried his luck as a footballer, worked for the family business as a newspaper delivery boy and was even a labourer at Highgate Cemetery.
Then he decided to pack a rucksack and guitar and go round the world with folk musician Wizz Jones.That was when he came to Spain for the first time, in the early sixties.
He landed in Franco’s Barcelona but didn’t stay long: the now Knight of the British Empire was deported under the vagrancy law when he was found sleeping in the street by police. Then he became involved in the Mod movement, and after his spell in The Faces, launched his solo career that still thrives.
We ask him if there is anything left of that rebellious spirit associated with rock music, or if it has been silenced by success, fame and money. “It all depends on how you describe a rebel. Music can be rebellious but it can also be thought-provoking, comforting and joyous,” he responds, skirting the question.
What hasn’t changed over the years is his musical tastes. “I still listen to all my favourites, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Muddy Waters.”
Father of eight children, whose age difference he describes as “quite radical” (his oldest is in her 50s and his youngest eight), Stewart agrees that he is kept up-to-date with modern music. “I’m not a great lover of rap,” he says, before describing himself as a “big fan” of young singer George Ezra.
Looking back at his 74 years Rod Stewart concludes that he has lived life to the limit, although there are still places he would like to visit. “I’ve had a wonderful life; all I can ask for now is good health and happiness,” he says.