Days after coming in off the road from his “Heart & Soul” tour with Stevie Nicks, Rod Stewart was back in the studio, recording vocals for his forthcoming blues album with, as he calls him, “his former boss,” Jeff Beck.
The two are recording, “‘Rolling and Tumblin,’ ‘Shake Your Money Maker,’ all those old blues things,” Stewart told Hitfix Wednesday night at the ASCAP Pop Awards, where he was receiving the highest honor of the night, The Founders Award. The two are recording separately, just as they did when they worked together on Stewart’s “Infatuation” and Beck’s cover of “People Get Ready” years ago. But their history goes back more than 40 years to when Stewart was the vocalist on the Jeff Beck Group's seminal albums, “Beck-ola” and “Truth.”
The big question now is what label will the blues set come out on? Just as we were getting ready to interview Stewart, we overheard him tell The Hollywood Reporter's Shirley Halperin that he was out of contract with J Records, the home of his most recent, very successful “Great American Songbook” series. When we asked him about whom he'd record for next, he added, "Oh, I don't know. I don't worry about that. No, no, no." A J label rep said, “we don’t comment on contract negotiations.”
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In other news, look for an update on Stewart’s possible residency in Las Vegas at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace soon. He did a test run last fall and when we interviewed him in late December, he said there was an offer from Caesars on the table that he was mulling over. He’d rotate time with Celine Dion, who recently returned after a several-year absence, and Elton John, who will start a new string of shows this fall.
He and Nicks may also tour together again after their inaugural run of 18 shows. “We got off to a little bit of a shaky start because she’s extremely nervous, a real pro, doesn’t want any mistakes, but I’m just the opposite. I like mistakes in a show, that vulnerability, the element of risk,” Stewart says. “But she was wonderful to work with. She was so great, by the end of the tour, she’d bought all my children a piece of jewelry, the three girl singers in the band jewelry, she bought me a piece of jewelry and what did i buy her? A Jo Malone candle. I felt so cheap!” Given that Stewart has eight children, that’s a considerable amount of jewelry.
Stewart was being honored for his contributions to songwriting. Past honorees include Heart, Annie Lennox, Melissa Etheridge, Neil Young, Tom Waits and James Taylor. Although he hasn’t written much of his own stuff lately, Stewart’s compositions, such as “Maggie May,” have staying power. I asked him which songs he never tires of singing after all these years and he looked as if I’d asked him to name his favorite children. “I don’t get tired of any of them. Never,” he says. “Maybe ‘Do You Think I’m Sexy,’ but there are songs like ‘The Killing of Georgie’ that I’m very proud of, you know, written in ’76, it was a topic that not many people had dealt with, homosexuality. No I love them all, they’re my babies.”