“Jeff was a great guy, but he wasn’t a great bandleader”: Sir Rod Stewart recalls his time singing in the Jeff Beck Group

Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck in 1984
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the new issue of Classic Rock, there’s a wide-ranging interview between our Guest Editor Bryan Adams and Sir Rod Stewart. The chat touches on Sir Rod’s early days, lyrical inspirations, hobbies, Vegas residencies and more, and there’s a touching moment when Adams offers Stewart his condolences about the passing of guitar icon Jeff Beck. Stewart and Beck’s relationship went all the way back to the late 60s, when the singer joined Beck’s post-Yardbirds project The Jeff Beck Group. Whilst they remained close friends until Beck’s death, Stewart wasn’t shy in admitting that Beck struggled slight when it came to being the main man.

“Jeff was a great guy, but he wasn’t a great bandleader,” Stewart tells Adams. “I mean, you have to look after your band. I remember when me and Ronnie [Wood, who played bass in the Jeff Beck Group] were staying in New York, and we never got a per diem, we just got our money every week, and sometimes that money would be very late in coming. Not necessarily Jeff’s fault, but his manager. I think it was Peter Grant. So me and Woody would go up the corner from the Gorham Hotel where all the bands used to stay, and we’d go into shops and nick eggs – steal them. Sometimes Jimi Hendrix’s girlfriend would go and buy us breakfast because we had no money.”

Turning his thoughts to more recent events, Stewart tells Adams that they gave the guitarist a fitting send-off. “The funeral was exceptional,” he says. “Everybody got up and spoke, and Jimmy [Page] and Eric Clapton spoke very highly of him.”

Elsewhere in the chat, the pair discuss Adams’ career as a photographer, compare pre-gig drink routines, where Long John Baldry’s ashes reside, why they consider themselves the lucky ones and much more. To read the full interview, pick up the new issue of Classic Rock, available here from Friday.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.