British singer Rod Stewart is adding a new element to his image: serious model railroad builder. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

British singer Rod Stewart is adding a new element to his image: serious model railroad builder. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Rod Stewart on a new track

The rocker has become a serious model railroad builder.

  • Friday, November 29, 2019 2:46pm
  • Life

By Gregory Katz / Associated Press

LONDON — Rod Stewart, known for decades as a consummate crooner, rocker, fashion plate and tongue-in-cheek sex symbol, is adding a new element to his image: serious model railroad builder.

The former front man of the Faces who has hits dating back to the 1960s has put the finishing touch on a 23-year project that has landed him on the cover of Britain’s Railway Modeller magazine. It’s a far cry from Rolling Stone, whose cover he has graced many times.

The model is an ambitious portrayal of a gritty American city in 1945, representing a combination of New York and Chicago. It’s an artistic success, one that Stewart didn’t outsource but designed and constructed from start to finish, with some help with the electrical and computer connections.

“It’s the detail that I’m proud of,” Stewart said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Stewart is modest about hits like “Maggie May” but proud of his railway design skills.

“Absolutely amazing detail,” Steward said. “There’s garbage in the streets, the windows are filthy, there’s everything you can imagine in real life is on the railroad.”

He grew up in London across the street from a railroad line and has been fascinated by trains ever since, taking mental notes on his extensive world travels.

When he got around to building a house in Beverly Hills, he added a room at the very top for his oversize model railroad. He would typically go up there for three or four hours at a time, quietly stepping away from his family and his musical responsibilities.

“It wasn’t a whim, it took a bit of planning, and 23 years later it’s finished,” Stewart said.

Now that the project is completed, he’s got more time for music. The 74-year-old singer says that for some reason it’s easier for him to write songs than it used to be.

He’s promoting a new record — his best-known songs backed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra — and traveling in style, arriving for interviews in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce with a hair stylist standing by to help with shape and volume.

If pressed, he can come up with a few new artists that he likes, but Stewart readily admits he’s “old fashioned” and prefers to listen to classics by Otis Redding, the Temptations, and Frank Sinatra, who he started paying attention to when he was nine or ten because his parents were big fans.

“The greatest,” he said of Sinatra. “Probably the only white singer I’ve ever listened to and really studied his technique. And I’ve actually met him a couple of times … and his daughter is the godmother of my children. Pretty good, huh?”

Talk to us

More in Life

Owners Kim and Larry Harris at Bayernmoor Cellars on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020 in Stanwood, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
World-class wine, from grapes grown right here

Bayernmoor Cellars makes award-winning pinot noir from grapes grown at its vineyard northeast of Stanwood.

About a dozen metal dinosaurs sit in the front yard of a home owned by Burt Mason and Mary Saltwick on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Freeland, Washington. The couple are used to finding strangers in their yard and taking photos. Every year on their trip to Tucson, Burt and Mary bring home another figure  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Dinos on Whidbey? This Freeland yard is a Jurassic Park

These creatures from long ago won’t chomp or chase you, and you’re welcome to visit.

Drink This: 5 Snohomish breweries to host Smash and Dash

Each brewery takes the same base IPA recipe and then dry hops the beer with a different hop. Try them all.

Golden shakshuka

Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Golden Shakshuka is just the thing for a weekend brunch

This easy Middle Eastern egg dish is made with yellow bell peppers and yellow cherry tomatoes.

Don Sarver, left, and Kyle James, right, snowshoe on the Skyline Lake Trail on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 in Leavenworth, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Avoiding avalanches: How to know and where to go

Follow these tips for researching on-the-ground conditions from comfort of your home or local library.

(Getty Images)
You voted: The best Chinese food in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites.

The parenting journey takes you on an adventurous path at each stage of your child’s development. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Growing up: The ages and stages of raising your children

One minute your child is the baby in your arms, and the next minute, they’ve just landed their first job.

James Myles walks his 5-month-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi Ellie around Martha Lake Park on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Lynnwood, Washington. Myles entered Ellie into a contest called Americas Favorite Pet, where she's currently in 2nd place for her group. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Vote for Ellie: Fluffy corgi from Lynnwood vying for top dog

“Her Fluffiness” is competing to be America’s Favorite Pet. The contest raised $300,000 for PAWS last year.

The 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo produces up to 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. (Manufacturer photo)
Turbo power comes to Mazda’s Mazda3 compact for 2021

Ride, handling and cabin quality were already a given. Performance can now be added to the mix.

Most Read