Rod Stewart jokes that most of his peers are dead, not retired, and although well into his 70s the rock legend is not ready to call time on a career that has spanned six decades.
Stewart may be 74 but he wears it well and such is his enjoyment of performing the thought of retirement is “awful” to the musical icon.
With a new chart-topping album Blood Red Roses out now, Stewart is showing no signs of slowing down and will headline an outdoor concert at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on Wednesday – the last event ever to be held at the AECC before it flits to P&J Live.
Rod said: “I’m proud of my age… And most of my peers are dead, not retired. I enjoy it, that’s what it comes down to. There will be a time, I’m sure, for retirement and I’m closer than I was years ago.
“To me, retirement is not a lovely word.
“People always talk about ‘looking forward to retiring’ but for me that’s an awful thought.
“I’m lucky I have a brilliant job that I love, and as long as I enjoy it and people are coming out in their droves to the shows then I will go on.”
The origins of a career that would span No1 albums in six different decades and sales in excess of 200 million began in the sweaty, intimate British blues clubs in the mid-1960s.
It was there Rod served his music apprenticeship as a member of Long John Baldry’s Hoochie Coochie Men, and then in the group Steampacket.
He would later join the Jeff Beck Group and sang on the influential 1969 album Beck-Ola.
There would follow four raucous albums with The Faces that ran in conjunction with a successful solo career. In 1975 The Faces split and Rod’s solo path continued to rack up chart topping hits.
He said: “When I first came into the business, I thought ‘I’ll be happy if this lasts a couple of months’. I don’t know what the secret is to still being here, though.
“Maybe I put on a good show, have a distinctive voice, an army of songs and some very loyal fans, and as long as people still want to hear them, I’m going to be there.”
Rod will perform in the Granite City for the first time since a sell-out open air show at Aberdeen FC’s Pittodrie stadium in June 2011. Yet again he will perform outdoors on Wednesday as a fully seated area will be built for the show.
Rod said: “Whether it’s a small festival or a great big one, we give every show the same 110%.
“We have played to 54 people once, for a wealthy Russian man in Rome who must have only known 50 people – and he invited all of them.
“He paid me a lot of money, and we gave the same show as we would at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s funny when it’s smaller like that, or in Vegas, as not everybody there is a Rod Stewart fan, so you have to win them over. It’s not like doing a show in Britain where everybody wants the night to be a success and to have a good time.”
At 74, the touring schedule, billed as his biggest UK tour to date and including outdoor arenas and football stadiums, could be daunting.
However, Rod keeps himself in shape with three personal trainer sessions a week, swimming, rowing and playing football with his young sons.
Explaining his regime, Rod said: “I always make the comparison with football, which I’ve played all my life. Football is an ugly game if you’re not fit and everyone’s running past you, leaving you behind. “But if you’re keeping up, it’s beautiful.”
With a back catalogue spanning 30 solo studio albums Rod admits it can be difficult to whittle down the songs for the Aberdeen show on Wednesday.
One thing is certain, he will perform the classics.
He said: “We know there are certain songs people love to hear, of course, but I like to bring back ones from way back when.
“There will be a fair sprinkling of those, probably two from Blood Red Roses and a couple from the two albums before that.
“People want to hear the songs like I Don’t Wanna Talk About It, and that keeps them in the show.
“We don’t really drop tracks, we change the show every night; from a set list of maybe 20 songs, and decide each night what it’ll be.
“So every crowd gets a slightly different show.
It keeps the band on their toes – and they keep me on mine!
“It’s a big band, six girls, six men and they’re very lively, it’s good to have the youngsters around.”
New album Blood Red Roses marks a return to writing for Rod after his exploration of the Great American Songbook in the noughties.
Rod’s writing career began with The Faces when he and Ronnie Wood, now of The Rolling Stones, holed themselves up in Ronnie’s mum’s sitting room with bottles of wine and a blank note pad.
It was the genesis of a writing partnership that would yield classics like Stay With Me, Every Picture Tells A Story and Miss Judy’s Farm.
After a successful and prolific solo writing career Rod lost confidence in his ability to pen songs until experiencing an epiphany when revisiting and reassessing his life for his 2012 autobiography.
He said: “When I wrote my book, that sparked in me the realisation that I had stories still to tell, about my early beginnings, my dad, and that book spawned the writing, it came back to me.
“I had thought it had gone and left me, but it doesn’t really, it’s not a physical thing, you just have to put your mind to it. I teamed up again with Kevin Savigar, my co-writer and producer now, and he brought it out of me again.
“There was a point when I didn’t even want to go into the studio again too.
“I couldn’t bear the thought of going into the dark studio space. But again, it was Kevin who got me back.”
Backed by a 12-strong band, Rod will perform in front of a stunning visual show.
The show will go on until he loses the passion for music which is unlikely or the fans stop wanting to see him which is even more unlikely.
He said: “I can only do what I do, sing a collection of wonderful songs; new ones, old ones, a few surprises, and there’s a whole new visual going on.
“I’m not going to take my trousers down, not this time, maybe when I get really desperate I will.
“When you forget to put your trousers on, maybe that’s the time to pack it in.”
Click here for more music news and features.