Rod Stewart has told how the Jeff Beck Group missed the chance to appear at the Woodstock festival over a rumour about the guitarist’s wife.
They were gearing up to play the iconic event during their final visit to the US – but then Beck flew home after hearing his other half was having an affair.
In a Rolling Stone excerpt from his book Rod: The Autobiography, singer Stewart recalls how the band played the Fillmore East and the Newport Jazz Festival in the summer of 1969, with the last date on the trip scheduled to be “some outdoor event or other in upstate New York.”
The Jeff Beck Group were staying in a hotel at JKF Airport, waiting to play the show then return to the UK later the same night.
“But then the call came through,” Stewart says. “The gig wouldn’t be happening. Jeff had already flown out. He had got wind of a rumour, which turned out to be false, that his missus was having an affair with the gardener, so he was quite keen to go home.”
Looking back on the missed opportunity to play Woodstock, the singer reports: “Ah, well. Seen one outdoor festival, you’ve seen them all.”
In the same excerpt Stewart discusses the band’s first US trip the previous year, recounting how he and Ronnie Wood decided to make a pilgrimage to the Apollo Theater in Harlem – without considering the risks involved.
“We didn’t think it might be a dangerous place for a couple of white boys to go,” he says. One taxi driver even refused to take them to their destination. But thanks to the way their “London finery” the Harlem crowd accepted them as musicians or performers, and they enjoyed their visit.
He also recounts how he started his first US show half-hiding behind an amplifier, terrified that black members of the crowd might object to his interpretation of blues singing. He says: “I was about to perform, for the first time, in a country in which people were allowed to own guns.”
Rod: The Autogiography is published on October 23.