Stewart was already known for his work around blues, rock, soul, folk and ballads, but this new song gave him a very different image. “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” brought him new fans, but it also caused many of his old fans to turn away from his music.
The majority of the song was written by drummer Carmine Appice (Jeff Beck, Vanilla Fudge), who had just joined Rod Stewart’s band. In this regard, Appice during an interview with Songfacts revealed that Stewart was influenced by “Miss You” to write “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” “We were in the studio and ‘Miss You’ by The Rolling Stones was a big hit,” Appice recalled. “Rod was always a guy that used to listen to what was going on around him.
“He was always looking at the charts and listening. He was a big fan of The Rolling Stones, so when they came out with ‘Miss You,’ disco was really big at the time, so he wanted to do some kind of disco-y song, but nothing like Gloria Gaynor.” For context, Gloria Gaynor is most known for her No. 1 hit “I Will Survive.”
The main riff of the song is inspired by an instrumental song by the Brazilian musician Jorge Ben, called ‘Taj Mahal’; who sued Stewart for plagiarism, but in the end they agreed to allocate all royalties on that issue to UNICEF.