HE is pop’s latest knight and his musical roots can be traced back to a Southampton band.
Spiky haired singer Rod Stewart, honoured for his services to music and charity, served part of his musical apprenticeship with legendary Southampton blues band The Soul Agents.
On November 4 the club will be paying tribute to the star who learned his trade there with bands like The Soul Agents and Steampacket.
Forever Rod is a brand new theatrical production celebrating the career of one of rock’s greatest icons from street busker through to international superstar.
The show will include all the massive hits from Rod’s incredible career, classic rock numbers like Maggie May, Baby Jane and Da Ya Think I’m Sexy through to big ballads such as Sailing, You’re In My Heart and Tonight’s The Night.
There will also be favourites from his days with the Faces such as Stay With Me and Twistin The Night Away and timeless Motown tunes from the album Soulbook.
After his days of singing the blues in Hampshire Rod went on to become one of the best-selling music artists of all time, selling more than 200 million records worldwide in a star-studded six decade career.
And it was The Soul Agents who put his career firmly on track when it was beginning to nosedive.
In his best-selling autobiography 71-year-old Rod recalled his six-month spell fronting The Soul Agents.
In late 1964 prospects for Rod, who was then 19, were looking bleak and hopes of becoming a rock superstar seemed way off the radar.
His first single had flopped and his band had broken up. He had spent 10 months with Long John Baldry and the Hoochie Coochie Men.
Long John, who died in 2005, had been Rod’s mentor.
But with Long John on the verge of bankruptcy the band came off the road. The path to the dole queue was opening up for Rod but his management soon found him work.
He was frontman with a band called Ad-Lib but when that did not work out he became the lead singer with The Soul Agents.
In the biography Rod describes how they were a four piece band with a great organ player, Don Shinn, Tony Good, who was the guitarist, Dave Glover on bass, and Roger Pope who played drums and later toured the world with Elton John’s band.
The Soul Agents had a couple of singles on the Pye label. But Rod said that while he was with the band they mostly played R & B covers.
Rod and the band were never able to record together since they were contracted to different record labels.
They travelled from gig to gig in a Commer van and artistic Rod would pass the time by drawing graffiti on the inside of the van.
The Soul Agents quickly graduated from gigs on the south coast, including the Esso Recreation Club, Fawley, Thorngate Hall, Gosport, and Salisbury City Hall, to touring the United Kingdom.
They hit the jackpot when they landed a weekly residency at The Marquee Club in Wardour Street, Soho.
The Southampton based band had to collect Rod from his flat above a fish and chip shop in Brentford before they travelled to The Marquee.
Without rehearsing Rod and The Soul Agents made their first appearance together as support act for Long John Baldry and The Hoochie Coochie Men at The Marquee on December 3, 1964.
Rod did not feel entirely comfortable about being the Soul Agents’ sole frontman. In his days with the Hoochie Coochie Men he shared the singing duties with Long John.
After six months with The Soul Agents he went back to sitting around at home, until another opportunity opened up via Long John.
And the tracks were being laid for Rod to be part of what became another sensational sixties British blues band, Steampacket.
As well as Rod and Long John the line-up included Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger. And the rest is rock ‘n’ roll history.
Sir Rod’s hit single Maggie May which has become his signature tune has strong links with Hampshire.
The hit single was inspired by the singer’s visit to the iconic Beaulieu Jazz Festival which was the forerunner to today’s open air music festivals.
The song, written by singer Rod Stewart and Martin Quittenton, was recorded by the spiky haired rocker in 1971 for his album Every Picture Tells a Story.
Maggie May expressed the emotions of a young man involved in a relationship with an older woman, and was written from Stewart’s own experience.
In a magazine article he recalled: “Maggie May was more or less a true story, about the first woman I had sex with, at the Beaulieu Jazz Festival.”
In October 1971, the song went to number one in the UK and simultaneously topped the charts in the United States. The song was also number one in Australia for four weeks.
The record was Stewart’s first substantial hit as a solo performer and launched his solo career.
Now Rod Stewart is truly rock royalty and his reign over the music scene can be traced back to Southampton and those Soul Agents.
l Forever Rod, The Concorde Club, Eastleigh on November 4. For more details ring 02380613989 or visit www.theconcordeclub.com