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Rod Stewart demo sells for triple its estimate at auction

Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images

A demo tape said to have launched Rod Stewart‘s career has sold for triple its initial estimate at auction.


BBC reports Stewart recorded the demo on June 18, 1964, in a basement studio in London owned by engineer Pepe Rush

The 15ips reel-to-reel tape included the tracks “Ain’t That Loving You Baby,” “Bright Lights Big City,” “Worksong” and “Don’t Tell Nobody.”

Stewart used that demo as his audition tape and was later signed by Decca Records. His manager at the time, Jonathan Rowlands, held onto the tape. 

Rowlands, now 83, sold the nearly 60-year-old demo at Cheffin’s in Cambridge for 3,400 pounds — or roughly $4,000. The auctioneer says the selling price is three times the initial estimate. 

Also included with the demo was Rowlands’ appointment book from 1964, which included dates and details of his meetings with the hitmaker.

“We knew Rod was something special from the word go,” Rowlands said. “He had that absolute star quality which he shares with the likes of Tom Jones and Elton John, which has allowed them to stay relevant in the music industry even after all of these years.”

He also spoke of how Stewart managed to find a recording studio to make the demo: “We had got lucky finding out about Pepe Rush’s studio that was hidden in the basement of a shop in Berwick Street, Soho.”

“With my then partner, Geoff Wright, we then sent the tape to Decca Records as an audition recording in June 1964 and the result was we obtained Rod’s first recording contract,” he added.

Rowlands also revealed he had to get Stewart’s parents to sign the contract because artists couldn’t sign if they were under 21; Rod was 19.

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