It seems as if I've always liked Rod Stewart and the Faces but it must have started somewhere?

I guess, as with a lot of us, it was Maggie May that first brought him to our attention, and once we realised here was a man who liked football, blondes and drinking, we were hooked.

Of course that memorable appearance on Top of the Pops helped, with Rod kicking footballs out into the audience when he should have been singing, and John Peel playing what must be the most famous mandolin solo ever.

I remember buying the Every Picture Tells a Story album from the first Virgin records store on Oxford Street . Us teenagers from Nottingham didn't frequent the big city very often at all but for some reason Tats, Bert and I were in London for the day. I remember going up the post office tower as it was a novelty at the time, although it was bombed later on that week by the IRA. I do remember Tats disappearing for a while so I've never been entirely convinced it was the IRA!

This was October 1971 - the same month that Maggie May was top of the charts. As we left Oxford Street by tube Tats was dawdling along behind as he always did, and Bert and I jumped on the train. The inevitable happened and the doors closed before Tats got to them, but in the chaos of trying to hold the door open for him, Rod got caught in the doors. My precious album travelled the entire distance between two stations caught between two doors. When I got home the introduction to Maggie May sounded a bit strange but it wasn't until seeing him live years later (Rod...not Tats) that I realised the intro skipped a couple of beats due to a scratch from the 11.15 to Edgware.

The first time I saw The Faces I nearly didn’t! I was in Manchester at University, just about to start a double period zoology practical session, when someone announced to me that Rod Stewart tickets had just gone on sale at the Free Trade Hall. Ignoring my education totally I escaped the lesson and ran back to UMIST where I was living, to pick up my cheque book. I then ran all the way to the free trade hall and joined a queue around the back to buy tickets, only to find that they wouldn’t accept my cheque.

This was in the days when, rather than throwing financial incentives at students to go into debt, the banks wouldn’t even trust us to be issued with bankers cards! I ran all the way back to UMIST again, to rustle up some money from assorted students and managed to get enough to buy fours tickets. When I got back to the Free Trade Hall I got the last four tickets, which weren’t even in front of the stage – they were in a box to the side of stage so I was assured by a helpful ticket office clerk that view would be awful! I took them anyway.

He was wrong. For a start we were sharing the box with 5 or 6 beautiful teenage girls who were in a highly excited state at being so close to Rod.

Secondly although the view of the stage was a bit strange, we could see it all, but from behind a speaker stack. We were above a grand piano, the surface of which was covered with assorted bottles of Pimms, brandy and other beverages essential to the smooth running of a Faces concert. It was also the spot where Rod escaped to when he wasn’t singing and he would look up at us and have a bit of a chat.

We could see straight into the wings on the side of the stage and amused ourselves spotting footballers like Denis Law, and various long legged blondes. The only dodgy moment was when Rod decided to throw his tambourine up to us and we were nearly ripped to shreds by 6 teenage girls fighting over it!

Here’s what my diary says for the night –

“This is about the best night I’ve had since I’ve been here (at Manchester Uni). We went in the coffee bar first for something to eat – me Gordon Andy and Dave. Then we went to the Salisbury and had a couple of rum and blacks, and on down to the Faces – they were queuing to get in and it was only 7.00pm. Tickets were on sale outside for £15.00 (I think you’re supposed to gasp here at the extortionate rip off prices the touts were charging!)

We found our seats and were a bit disappointed at first but soon found that they were probably the best seats in the house – the people on the balcony could hardly see at all. The first group was Long John Baldry and he was quite good but everyone was waiting for Rod. There was a long gap of three quarters of an hour and everyone was going mad by this time. Rod came on to the stripper followed by the Faces – they played from 9.15 to 11.15 and played just about everything except Reason to Believe. There were lots of Rod and Ron Wood duets, microphone throwing and running about. He threw his tambourine to us and the girls with us had a massive scrap for it. The last song lasted for ages and there were people climbing on the stage from all over the place and getting thrown out. Rod nearly got dragged into the audience by his scarf. I stood on my seat for two hours – everyone was waving scarves, banners, clapping and singing all the time.

The set list I have in the diary was It’s all over now, Too bad, Borstal boys, Angel, True Blue, You wear it well, Maggie May, Pool hall Richard, Stay with me, Amazing Grace, Twisting the night away, Oh no not my baby and Gasoline Alley.”

I must have enjoyed it – I really have lost count of how many times I’ve seen him now but it’s somewhere in the high thirties and pretty much everything he and the Faces have done ranging through vinyl, cassette and CD. I have about thirty tapes of live recordings picked up along the way so I must have at least thirty different recordings of Maggie May, including the reggae version he liked to drift into in the late seventies!After the Free Trade Hall I saw him at Bellevue a couple of times where I’m surprised there was anyone left in the audience – so many were climbing onto the stage and getting thrown out, and this was before the band came on! I moved back to Nottingham and used to see him at the NEC and Leicester; when I ended up down south it was numerous appearances at Wembley Stadium and Arena.

I was never content with seeing him once a tour – it’s usually been two or three times. I nearly got killed by a tout when I was trying to spell my spare tickets outside Wembley Arena and he took offence to that, was refused entrance to the hotel we were staying in after a day in the rain at Wembley Stadium. That was an excellent show as it was hot but raining all day, and we appeared back at the Tower Hotel looking like drowned rats. After we managed to get in we discovered that the concert was on TV so watched it again in the dry!

I bought the obligatory tartan scarf after the first concert and wore it with pride at all the others, until my mum sneakily threw it away! It also made a few appearances at other shows – Slade for example, but never, never the Bay City Rollers!

Rod was actually responsible for me being known in the third year at University as “You with the tartan scarf”. These were the words shouted at me by Professor Rodgers, our head of department while I was trying to work out an NME crossword clue with Ed, in the middle of one of his lectures. I had to confirm that I wished to remain in his lecture in front of 100 students, so I’d like to thank Rod for the slight element of fame and notoriety that this brought me!

I never realised that I was going to have to defend Mr Stewart so strongly. I should have known, after several embarrassing moments in the seventies - The Kickers advert below was one of the worst! Then punk came along and the entire music press laid into him. It was the time of A Night on the Town, Foot Loose and Fancy Free and Blondes Have More Fun and I liked them, but I also liked punk. I just about managed to retain some credibility with my mates for liking Rod and then what does he do….he ran into the eighties! Tonight I’m Yours was excellent, but then Body Wishes came along and it was instantly forgettable apart from Baby Jane which was of course classic.

Rod fans were very protective about the scarf as the cutting from the letters page of Sounds shows...I'm with you Pete from Manchester! And notice he calls them Rod Stewart AND Faces - that's the sign of a real fan! On the right is another sign of a real fan - yes....I actually bought Ole Ola!

I was working in Nottingham when Baby Jane was out and I had tickets for 2 consecutive nights at the NEC. On the first night a local record shop had chartered an entire train to take Rod fans from Nottingham direct to the station at the NEC. They set up a bar in the guards van so by the time we got to the gig we were exceedingly drunk! It was really hot, Rod was at the height of his “tight trousers and rich Hollywood superstar” phase, and so the train was at least eighty percent full of nubile young women dressed in very little! When we got in to the arena we set off to walk down to the front and were immediately stopped by security guards at a barrier who informed us that our tickets were for the back of the ground floor standing area. Unperturbed I instructed Dave to crumple up his ticket and follow me round to the other side where we waved a crumpled piece of paper in front of security in dim lighting and were allowed through. Triumphantly I headed for the front and didn’t notice the next barrier where we were immediately stopped and thrown out again! We managed to use the crumpled ticket trick to get back to about half way and the concert had started by then. By using the end of each song as cover – lights go down, crowd jumps up, we skip between seats, lights go down, crowd jumps up ,we crawl under seats, lights go down, crowd jumps up, we dive over seats, and we eventually arrive at the last barrier before the front.

Unfortunately they have put a combination of the A Team and the Men from Uncle on this last checkpoint and there is no chance of us getting any further. We do find though that we’re not the only ones who have been adopting these tactics and we end up partying with all the die hard, serious Rod fanatics who have made it as far as this last line and are determined to make the most of it! Security are even having a good time, and it was one of the most exciting Rod shows I can remember.

The next night I drove from Nottingham with three friends and had to remain sober – our tickets were for seats in the stands and due to the throbbing hangover from the night before I was quite happy with that!

In 1984 we had Camouflage which had the worst cover version that Rod has ever done. Lets face it – he is the master of covers as most of his early albums show, but to even attempt a version of All Right Now was a strange thing to do and put me off the whole album. AndInfatuation…..Passion with different words. I blame it on Kelly Emberg. Then Every Beat of my Heart which was totally forgettable except that “Every Beat of my Heart” was a classic singalong song. Out of Order was worse. And just when we think we’re destined to never hear a good Rod Stewart album again, and be doomed to the three or four greatest hits albums which come out every year, along comes Vagabond Heart with The Motown Song, Rhythym of my Heart, Have I told you lately, and Broken Arrow . He’s back! And I’ve been sort of OK with him ever since – although don’t get me started on those American Songbook things. Maybe we’re both just getting old!