Rod Ste­wart: Rocker, crooner, fash­ion plate and model rail­road star

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NATION & WORLD - By Gre­gory Katz

LON­DON — Rod Ste­wart, known for decades as a con­sum­mate crooner, rocker, fash­ion plate and tongue-in-cheek sex sym­bol, is adding a new el­e­ment to his image: se­ri­ous model rail­road builder.

The for­mer front­man of the Faces who has hits dat­ing to the 1960s has put the fin­ish­ing touch on a 23-year pro­ject that has landed him on the cover of Bri­tain’s Rail­way Modeller magazine.

It’s a far cry from Rolling Stone, whose cover he has graced many times.

The model is an am­bi­tious por­trayal of a gritty Amer­i­can city in 1945, rep­re­sent­ing a com­bi­na­tion of New York and Chicago. It’s an artis­tic success, one that Ste­wart didn’t out­source but de­signed and con­structed from start to fin­ish, with some help with the elec­tri­cal and com­puter con­nec­tions.

“It’s the de­tail that I’m proud of,” Ste­wart said in an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Ste­wart is mod­est about hits like “Mag­gie May” but proud of his rail­way de­sign skills.

“Ab­so­lutely amaz­ing de­tail,” Ste­wart said.

“There’s garbage in the streets, the win­dows are filthy, there’s ev­ery­thing you can imag­ine in real life is on the rail­road.”

He grew up in Lon­don across the street from a rail­road line and has been fas­ci­nated by trains ever since, tak­ing men­tal notes on his ex­ten­sive world trav­els.

When he got around to build­ing a house in Bev­erly Hills, he added a room at the very top for his over­size model rail­road. He would typ­i­cally go up there for three or four hours at a time, qui­etly step­ping away from his fam­ily and his mu­si­cal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“It wasn’t a whim, it took a bit of plan­ning, and 23 years later it’s fin­ished,” Ste­wart said.

Now that the pro­ject is com­pleted, he’s got more time for mu­sic. The 74year-old singer says that for some rea­son it’s eas­ier for him to write songs than it used to be.

He’s pro­mot­ing a new al­bum — his best-known songs backed by the Royal Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra.

If pressed, he can come up with a few new artists that he likes, but Ste­wart read­ily ad­mits he’s “old fash­ioned” and prefers to lis­ten to classics by Otis Red­ding, the Temp­ta­tions and Frank Si­na­tra, who he started pay­ing at­ten­tion to when he was nine or 10 be­cause his par­ents were big fans.

“The greatest,” he said of Si­na­tra. “Prob­a­bly the only white singer I’ve ever lis­tened to and re­ally stud­ied his tech­nique. And I’ve ac­tu­ally met him a cou­ple of times and his daugh­ter is the god­mother of my chil­dren. Pretty good, huh?”


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