Rod Stewart recalled the moment he hid behind the Grateful Dead’s wall of amplifiers when the Jeff Beck Group played their first American show in 1968 – for fear of being branded a “fake” by the audience.

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The incident took place as the band started the first of four opening performances for the Dead at New York’s iconic Fillmore East venue. In a new episode of the How to Wow podcast, Stewart remembered it happened just after he’d been terrified by his first flight in a jumbo jet.

“I was so nervous,” he said of the show. “I always tried to sound like Sam Cooke, sound like a black singer, all my life. I thought, ‘I’m gonna be found out – there’s gonna be lots of black people sitting there, going, “Fake! You’re a fake!”’ Of course, it was a load of hippies when I eventually came from behind the rack of amps. Jeff said, ‘Come on, you can come out now!’ And it was just a load of hippies!”

He argued that his band had blown the Grateful Dead away, although he conceded “not in volume,” adding: “America had never seen anything like this – me singing, Jeff playing guitar and Ronnie [Wood] playing bass, and Micky Waller on the drums and Nicky Hopkins on piano. What a lineup! They’d never seen Chicago blues being given back to them, fed back to them. This was before Led Zeppelin – of course, the [Rolling] Stones were big then – but this was us… and they’d never seen anything like it, especially a couple of tarts like me and Woody, all dressed up in lurex [and] high bouffant hair.”

Stewart continued: “We had no idea. We didn’t want to be particularly rich; we just wanted to do what we loved, which was play our music. [We] had no idea of being famous. It didn’t enter our minds. I think I speak for everybody else of that era.”

 

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