ll through the seventies, Rod Stewart stuck to a simple philosophy: Give the people exactly what they want. And what they wanted from him was spectacle, showmanship, and his own brand of sensuality.
Rod developed into one of the most moving singers of the decade. His voice was little more than a hoarse rasp, yet was capable of both hard rock and deep emotion. He was streetwise tough with a soft heart -- and millions thought he was very sexy indeed.
In 1976, his "Tonight's the Night" became the largest-selling single in Warner Brothers history. It came from the album A Night On The Town, the first album released on his own label, Riva (distributed by Warner Brothers). Off that same album came two other Top 30 hits in 1977, "The First Cut Is the Deepest" and "The Killing of Georgie." With a new backup band, Stewart then cut Footloose and Fancy Free. It featured "You're in My Heart" -- "a very confused song," according to Rod, "about women, Scotland, and two soccer teams." Also on that album was another pair of Top 30 hits, released as singles in 1978: "Hot Legs" and "I Was Only Joking." The latter tune was written to explain his unfaithful lifestyle to Britt Ekland, his former girlfriend.
In 1978, Rod bolstered the band by adding Nicky Hopkins on piano and Carmine Appice on drums. Together, they recorded his most spirited album of the seventies -- Blondes Have More Fun. "It's Stewart in a playful mood," wrote one critic. "The music is rowdy and irreverent." Another called it "smutty self-indulgence." Regardless, it sold nearly four million copies in six months. Additionally, the album was released in a limited edition of 100,000 picture discs, featuring disc imprints of front- and back-cover album graphics, as well as a cardboard pull-out of Stewart's face, also taken from album artwork.
In concert, Rod's rendition of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" was met by a tidal wave of screaming fans -- mostly female -- shouting, "YES!" It underlined his image as "rock's premier playboy of the seventies."
"Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" was selling 250,000 copies a week in February 1979, the month it made number one. It was the fastest-selling single in Warner history and their first platinum single of the year. A special twelve-inch version was said to be the first 48-track disco mix ever made (only 300,000 copies were pressed as collector's items). The song topped charts in eleven countries, including France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Belgium, England, Australia, and Canada.
The record also sparked a parody, "Do You Think I'm Disco?," recorded by Chicago deejay Steve Dahl. An antidisco anthem, it sold over 300,000 copies for Ovation Records, without breaking into the national Top 40.
Rod didn't make much off "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?," since Brazilian singer Jorge Ben sued him in court, claiming the tune was too similar to his work, "Taj Mahal." Ben won the rights to the song, then asked Rod to donate all his publishing royalties from "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" to UNICEF. But Rod did get an answer to his question on April 6, 1979, when former model Alena Collins Hamilton, became his bride.
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