Rod Stewart revisits the event where he hid behind the Grateful Dead’s Wall of amplifiers during the time Jeff Beck Group performed their first USA show in 1968 – for concern of being disgraced as a “fake” by the audience.
The event took place as the group began the first of four opening shows for the Dead at New York’s iconic Fillmore East venue. In the new installment of the How to Wow podcast, Stewart recalled it occurred just after he’d been frightened by his first travel in a jumbo jet.
“I was so nervous,” he recalled. “I always tried to sound like Sam Cooke, sound like a black singer, all my life. I thought, ‘I’m gonna be found out – there’s gonna be lots of black people sitting there, going, “Fake! You’re a fake!”’ Of course, it was a load of hippies when I eventually came from behind the rack of amps. Jeff said, ‘Come on, you can come out now!’ And it was just a load of hippies!”
He explained that his group had blown the Grateful Dead away, however, he acknowledged “not in volume,” adding: “America had never seen anything like this – me singing, Jeff playing guitar and Ronnie [Wood] playing bass, and Micky Waller on the drums and Nicky Hopkins on piano. What a lineup! They’d never seen Chicago blues being given back to them, fed back to them. This was before Led Zeppelin – of course, the [Rolling] Stones were big then – but this was us… and they’d never seen anything like it, especially a couple of tarts like me and Woody, all dressed up in lurex [and] high bouffant hair.”
Stewart continued: “We had no idea. We didn’t want to be particularly rich; we just wanted to do what we loved, which was play our music. [We] had no idea of being famous. It didn’t enter our minds. I think I speak for everybody else of that era.”