November 1965: Young Rod Stewart Stars in Formerly Lost Documentary, "Rod the Mod"

(David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Photo Credit
(David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

There’s something thrillingly recognizable when it comes to the rock ‘n roller that dons blonde hair that’s equally as wispy as his voice; the blue-eyed British singer commands the attention of frantic groupies and famed stars alike - this is the Rod Stewart we know.

The pre-stage persona Stewart, the 20-year-old vocalist who frequented the post office and his parents’ news stand is the Stewart we never knew, until the rediscovery of  “Rod the Mod,” a short film from the sixties depicting how the young man’s heart was full of soul and rhythm long before his route to stardom. 

Originally screened in November 1965, Stewart starred in a 30-min TV documentary, also referred to as “An Easter with Rod.” Profiling “the portrait of a typical mod,” a reference to the 60’s British trend of dressing stylish and riding motorcycles, the reel of Stewart featured glimpses into his everyday happenings as a youngster that were thought to be forever lost, until a BBC researcher discovered its misfiling in the British Film Institute (BFI) Archive. 

The film was a rare depiction of Stewart freshly embarking on his musical career, accompanied by shots of Stewart performing at local venues and chatting girls at the pub, as well as an interview with his parents about their son’s musical quest. It quickly becomes clear that Stewart, even at this stage, did not feel shy nor strange with cameras following him around. 

In a 1993 interview with Smiler Magazine, British blues-rock pioneer Long John Baldry recalled, “There was a documentary, but maybe Rod has put pressure on for it to be destroyed. It was a show called ‘Rod The Mod’. It showed us travelling [around] all these places in a vile van we had which was a Bovril cattle van. [I bought] it for £40 and had it converted. Our heating device was actually a Kerosene Stove secured with ropes!”

Baldry was also an old friend and blues mentor who first discovered Stewart busking at the Twickenham railway station. Baldry then recruited Stewart for his harmonica abilities by enlisting him in his own band, The Hoochie Coochie Men.

Baldry described the footage further, “It was a black and white thing and I know that when it was broadcast it was called ‘Rod The Mod’ because it was built around Rod. It was very interesting but it’s never seen the light of day since.”

One of Stewart's early managers, Geoff Wright, also confirmed the existence of the clip when he referenced the film in George Tremlett's 1976 The Rod Stewart Story, "He would turn down any idea that he thought was 'pop' rather than 'blues.' That was something he repeated again when he was interviewed in that film 'Rod the Mod,' which is an interesting film to see because many of the opinions he expressed then he has flatly later contradicted in his later career."

In 2003, BBC confirmed their finding of the documentary at the BFI in "bits and pieces." Stewart came full circle with the clip in April 2018, and attended a screening of the special at in London, appearing emotional while reminiscing with the film, and even participated in a Q&A with Director Francis Megahy and BFI Archive TV Programmer Dick Fiddy afterwards.

Artist Name

Read More

(Mike Lewis Photography/Redferns)
"In some ways, you kind of think it’s God’s way of telling everybody, ‘Slow down. Everybody get back with your families.’"
(Cyrus Andrews/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
The Stones' first #1 song was released in America on June 6, 1965.
Alfred A. Knopf
The book will be available Nov. 1.

Facebook Comments