BIOGRAPHY - Introduction
a great model railway enthusiast and I'm building a huge layout over
there in California so that takes up a little bit of time and football
takes up a little bit of time. And then there's the Children and I
like to go out with the lads two or three times a week and go completely
mad and sometimes I get barnet done...it's still all my own hair,
you know. Which is more than can be said for Elton. Bald bugger. And
in between all that, I sometimes try to fit in a bit of music."
....that's Roderick David Stewart in his own words. Born in Highgate,
North London, on 10th January 1945. Rod's father Robert Joseph Stewart
came from King's Port in Edinburgh, Scotland. Rod's mother, Elsie,
came from Upper Holloway, North London. The Cockney girl fell for
the Scot and the couple married in 1928. The Stewart clan began to
appear afterwards. Rod's brothers Don and Bob and his sisters Mary
and Peggy were all born in Scotland. However the family moved to London
to 507 Archway Road, Highgate where after a gap of eight years, young
Roddy was born. This means that Rod is the only member of the family
to have been born in England, a misfortune which Rod has tended to
before Roderick was born a big shock had hit the district in the shape
of a German V2 rocket which made a direct hit on Highgate Police Station.
Rod reflected years later:
always thought that I was very lucky because that bomb fell just a
stone's throw from where I lived. I've sort of had a feeling that
I nearly didn't make it."
Stewart's childhood was conventional. He lived above the newsagent's
shop in Archway Road in North London. The newsagent's shop was owned
by the Stewarts themselves. As already mentionned, Roderick was
the youngest of five so he was spoilt by his family but of course
he was taught to respect his elders, especially his parents. He
was mainly interested in football and model railways. He's never
lost that passion over the years. He still enjoys to play with the
model railway and football is still as important (or even more)
to him than it was way back in the fifties. He was very much interested
in the singer Al Jolson, an American Jewish baritone, who was very
popular in the thirties. Rod's father and the two brothers were
football fans. They even started a local team called the 'Highgate
Al Jolson was
Rod's great love and many times the Stewart family would regularly
gather around the piano and sing Jolson's hits. When Rod became
older, he started to read books about him and began to collect his
records. He was very impressed by Jolson's performing style. Jolson
died in 1953. He was Rod's strongest influence and that stayed with
him throughout his life.
spent at the William Grimshaw Secondary Modern School in Hornsey.
Rod once said about school:
Horrific! Primary school, which is from age five to eleven, was just
bearable because it was close to me home...I'm very close to me whole
family. But when I went to Secondary Modern it was about five miles
away and that was unbearable. I really wasn't good at school and I
didn't like it, although I never missed a day. My favourite subject
was probably history and I was very artistic, good at sketching. I
was real cocky, and that obviously comes from insecurity. I was real
aggressive, taking the piss out of people all the time".
felt that only playing football could be a way he could earn a living.
He practised as much as possible and eventually signed apprentice
papers with Brentford FC in West London. Robert Stewart was very pleased....however,
the apprenticeship wasn't a holiday. Young Rodders was expected to
get up early in the morning and much to his dismissal found himself
cleaning the first team's boots most of the time. The training programme
didn't appeal to him either and so after a few weeks, much to Robert
Stewart's disappointment, he decided to leave the place and quit...