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Rip off Rod? No Sir.
posted by Pat Brett, February 17, 2019


Rod gives Ewan McColl and John McLaughlin credits on Blood Red Roses for elements of songs he has taken and built on. It’s not always been the case.

It seems to be increasingly common for songwriters to be accused of plagiarism. I guess there are only so many chord sequences available and it’s easy for something heard to lodge in the mind only to surface later as an assumed original idea (for example, back in 1982 Robert Palmer thought his Some Guys Have all the Luck was a new song until he heard the original by The Persuaders on the radio in a store near the studio). Rod is not immune to this phenomenon either. It must be said though that there is no evidence of Rod ever intentionally nicking anything for which royalties should have been paid to another artist

Da Ya Think I’m Sexy? is the highest profile of Rod’s copyright “incidents”. Well documented at this stage – and Rod both donated royalties to charity and gave Jorge Benn a songwriting credit on She Won’t Dance with Me a couple of years later by way of apology and compensation. The song is also noteworthy for Rod using the string arrangement from Bobby Womack’s “If you want my love (put something down on it)” as a hook. Rod has stated that you can nick strings like that without issue so he is playing by the rules.

On Some Guys Have All the Luck Rod correctly credits J Fortang as the writer but no credit is given to Clarence Frogman Henry for the use of the woo-ou’s repeated throughout...I guess you can nick those vocal things too.

When it comes to The Killing of Georgie, I am bit surprised this hasn’t come up more often but, as Rod admitted in an Uncut interview last year, he pretty much took the do-do-do’s from Lou Reeds Walk on the wild side.

Forever Young – how anyone thought Stewart/Savigar/Cregan would get away without giving Bob Dylan a credit is beyond me.

Purple heather – A well-known song, it was unexpected to see “Rod Stewart” on the writing credit in the liner notes. It was put down to a typo, missing the “Traditional, arrangement by” element. Seems plausible, as again, Rod could hardly think that anyone would believe he wrote it. Another trad song Corinna Corinna led to a claim from the estate of someone who claims they actually wrote it…they were not successful I believe.

The Other side of the coin:

I recall hearing how Jagger changed the word “lips” to “tongue” on Richards-written Stones track Almost hear you sigh – and he ended up with a credit…

Rod has often added whole verses or bridges and not taken a credit. Examples include Some Guys have all the luck, Superstar, What do you want me to do and Shotgun Wedding. He makes the songs better, but leaves the royalties alone.

There is a real challenge to getting the royalty split correct in a band situation where musicians in the studio together can feel that they have provided some additional inspiration to an idea from another player. One way around that was to give everyone a slice of the pie – which is what Rod did on Foolish Behaviour.

Even more difficult is when tracks are being revisited years later by someone not involved at the time. When Two Shades of Blue appeared in 2008 it was credited on CD sleeves to Rod Stewart alone – but a scan of the ASCAP database shows that Kevin Savigar has a publishing credit for co-writing the track. I wonder how many of the other Rod Stewart originals on Sessions would have granted some credit to a band member had they made it all the way to the final albums for which they were recorded?

It’s a complicated business, but it seems reasonable to assert that Rod has been fair over the years – giving credit where due, making amends where he has been unintentionally offside, and even not taking credit where he has added something new to the mix on a cover. He knows the boundaries.






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John Gray, music enthusiast and founder of SMILER fanclub, was born in Romford, Essex in 1960. He bought his first Rod Stewart record (Maggie May) in 1971 and has been a keen fan and collector ever since. He first witnessed Rod live on stage when he was just 13 years old and has now seen well over 100 different Rod Stewart concerts all over the world.
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It was late '77 shortly after the passing of Elvis who was his childhood musical idol, that Dan Perreira first heard Rod's "distinctive voice", singing "Tonight's The Night" on a television comercial for a K-Tel various artists LP. Lucky for him and his curiosity, located at his local library were two books about Rod which would educate him very well on both Rod and the Faces. He was completely intrigued, especially by the Faces years and became an instant fan. From then on he would buy and collect anything he could get his hands on and still continues to do so to this very day.
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Irishman Pat Brett is a mere novice fan having first become aware of Rod when Baby Jane topped the charts 30 years ago and only discovering SMILER in 1990. Despite his first purchase being the much maligned Camouflage album, Pat was hooked and has stuck around to champion Rod's middle years - after the heights of the seventies and before the crooner era.
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Neal Webb has been a Faces/Rod Stewart fan for over forty years; he has been fortunate enough to have seen the Faces live and the very first Rod Stewart solo shows. His first love has always been The Faces and he has followed each member of the bands solo careers since the band split in 1975. Favourite Faces album is Oh La La and Rod Stewart solo album is Gasoline Alley.
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dave
Dave Edwards has been a fan of Rod Stewart and The Faces since going to a party in 1971 and finding the next morning someone had put their Every Picture Tells A Story album into his Electric Warrior sleeve! After listening to the album and loving it he then gave it back to the rightful owner and found they had a spare ticket for the Edmonton concert! So at the age of thirteen he went to his first gig and was hooked.
Dave was asked to contribute a blog to provide a balance on the site as, unlike John and Steamy, his love of the man's music has not diminished over the years. Whilst still loving the 'Mercury Years' he is also a fan of the Songbook albums (and everything in between!).
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