How a Crouch End church hall launched Rod Stewart

As the lead singer of The Faces, Rod Stewart was renowned for his hard partying, drinking and of course, womanising ways.

But his musical beginnings began in an altogether far less rock ’n’ roll setting – a church hall in Edison Road, Crouch End.

It was as a 17-year-old, with what would become his signature blonde back-combed hair and a penchant for practical jokes, that former The Five Dimensions band mate Gary Leport remembers the star.

“A man called Dave McCarthy used to drive the van when we were on the road,” the 66-year-old said.

“He would be driving along and all of a sudden there would be a couple of feet dangling over the windscreen and Rod would have climbed on top of the van and thrown his legs over the front.


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“It was a miracle we didn’t crash. But that was Rod – he loved to make people laugh.”

If life on the road was fun and games, back at his family home in Archway Road, Highgate, Rod did not escape the more typical trials and tribulations of teenage life.

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“Rod would wear his faux black leather trousers when we practiced in this small hall,” Gary said.

“His mum would always say that he spent too much money on clothes and that it was costing him a fortune.”

At first glance Highgate’s neatly manicured streets may seem an inauspicious place to spawn a rock star.

Yet in the 1960s it spawned quite a few. The Kinks frontman Ray Davies lived up the road in Fortis Green and went to Rod’s school – William Grimshaw Secondary Modern, later renamed Fortismere. The pair even briefly performed together in their school days.

And while in the early 1960s Rod’s distinctive raspy voice was as likely to be heard singing along amid thousands of others in the crowd as it was up on stage, to those who saw his early gigs it was clear he was destined for big things.

Louis Cennamo, who played bass with the group and still lives in Southern Road, Fortis Green, said: “We left school early much to our parents’ dismay and went straight on tour – I did my GCEs and left before I knew the results.

“You could tell then that Rod was going to go on to big things.

“He sounded then just like he sounds now. It is his completely unusual voice that makes him so unique.

“That was the start for all of use really.”

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