I was eighteen and going out with Sue Boffey. Sue had a friend called Chrissie, who one night wanted us to go and see her boyfriend’s band, over in Richmond. This boyfriend was some kind of singer, evidently. Sue and I agreed to go.
Chrissie’s surname was Shrimpton, her boyfriend was called Mick Jagger, and his group was called the Rolling Stones. I wonder what became of them. The night we saw them, they were sat on stools, wearing cardigans, playing blues covers and one or two numbers of their own. The singer could certainly hold a room’s attention. Long John [Baldry] would later describe Jagger as “a medieval rendering of a hobgoblin,” which pretty much summed it up. I didn’t meet Mick on that occasion, but I remember thinking the band was great, while also having this nagging feeling inside: “I could do this.” In fact, I may even have been bold enough to think, “My voice is better than that.” I could draw a few people around me with a guitar on a beach; why couldn’t I take it up a level and enthrall an audience from a stage?
But who with? I had hung about a bit with the members of a group from round my way called the Raiders, who knew that I could sing. But that hadn’t worked out particularly well. The band got an audition with Joe Meek, the record producer, and invited me along to do vocals at the session. Meek was an intimidating bloke in a suit and tie who sported a rather magnificent rock ’n’ roll quiff and had a studio in a three-storey apartment above a leather goods shop on the Holloway Road. We trudged up the stairs, set up in the sound room, and played for a few minutes – I can’t remember what. But I can remember that, at the end of the number, Meek came through from the control room, looked me directly in the eye, and blew a long raspberry. I got my coat. I guess that was my first official review. The band became solely an instrumental group after that. Not an especially auspicious start.
Excerpted from Rod: The Autobiography, by Rod Stewart. Copyright © 2012 Rod Stewart. Published by Crown Archetype. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.
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