A 15ips tape of Sir Rod Stewart’s first studio recording will go under the hammer at Cheffins in Cambridge as part of The Art & Design Sale on 23rd February, with an estimate of £500 - £1,000.

The recording was made on 18th June 1964, at the famous Pepsi Rush basement studio at 42 Berwick Street, London, and was instrumental in Rod Stewart’s signing with Decca Records.

The tape has been consigned from music and PR man, Jonathan Rowlands, who at the time was managing Rod Stewart. Mr Rowlands, who also worked with the likes of Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdinck, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson, Tim Rose and film actor Jimmy Stewart amongst many others. 

The tape has a track list comprising; Just Like I Treat You, Moppers Blues, Bright Lights Big City, Keep Your Hands Off Her, Don’t Tell Nobody, Ain’t That Loving You Baby and Worksong.

Mr Rowlands, 83, who is based in Bakewell, Derbyshire, comments:

“The tape was used as audition material for a future recording contract for Rod with Decca Records. We had got lucky finding out about the Pepsi Rush’s studio that was hidden in the basement of a shop in Berwick Street, Soho.  At the time it was incredibly difficult to get into major studio, as they were all owned and controlled by the likes of Decca, CBS, Polydor and Phillips Records.  Rod had asked a certain Reg Dwight to come and play piano, unfortunately he had a cold that day and couldn’t make it. However, we were lucky for the musicians we used were from Long John Baldry’s Hoochie Coochie Band, led by pianist Ian Armit who Rod normally sang with.

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. The first single released then by Decca was Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.

I had been dealing with Rod for a few months at that point, he was around 18 years old, and in those days, you couldn’t sign a management contract until you were 21, so I had visited his parents in Highgate to ask them to sign on his behalf. We knew Rod was something special from the word go. 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.”

Jonathan worked with Rod for around nine years.

He continues: “our relationship ended because after a chance meeting in Mayfair with Lou Reizner who represented Chess Records in Chicago, Rod was happy to sign with them and I left for America to look after his interests. I was due to meet Rod over in Miami where he was touring with the Jeff Beck trio.  Jeff had a car crash, so Rod never came over, and I was stuck in the US getting a green card.  Back in the UK, Lou, introduced Rod to the Small Faces, who he also represented, and the rest is history as Rod joined the band along with Ronnie Wood. I think these tapes will be bought by someone who loves Rod. He’s done so many good things in his time and has so many fans, I am sure it will make someone very happy.”

Good Morning Little Schoolgirl was Sir Rod Stewart’s first single to be released, and was the start of the blossoming of his solo career. He then released his debut album, Every Picture Tells a Story in 1971, alongside the release of the single Maggie May which went to straight to Number 1 in the UK and the US simultaneously.

Martin Millard, Director, Cheffins says: “With over 120 million records sold worldwide, Sir Rod Stewart is undoubtedly one of the most famous British rock legends of all time. There are armies of Rod Stewart fans across the world, and this tape is an opportunity for someone to own the seminal recording which would go on to propel his career skywards. He is one of the most loved artists of the past century, and this is a chance for someone to buy a part of musical history.”

Sir Rod Stewart is still very much a part of the current music scene, having performed at Her Majesty the Queen’s Royal Jubilee in 2022, and released new music as recently as 2021. 

The tapes are sold along with photocopies of Jonathan Rowlands’ 1964 appointment book, detailing his meetings with Stewart. They are sold as collectors’ items only and no intellectual property rights are accompanied.


Auction: The Art & Design Sale – 23rd February 2023 from 11am
 Cheffins, Clifton House, 1-2 Clifton Road, Cambridge, UK, CB1 7EA