Rod Stewart's 25 Year Journey Back to #1

By | November 1, 2004 at 12:00 AM

After a 25-year absence from the #1 album spot, J Records artist Rod Stewart with his album Stardust… The Great American Songbook: Volume III enters the Billboard 200 Album chart at #1 on a first week Soundscan total of 240,043 copies sold.

The Songbook albums are a musical and cultural phenomenon, and are now the biggest-selling ongoing series of new music recordings in history. This is also Rod Stewart’s first ever #1 debut on the Billboard Top 200 chart.

Stardust is the follow-up to 2002’s It Had To Be You… The Great American Songbook (which spent 85 weeks on the chart, and holds the #83 position this week) and 2003’s As Time Goes By… The Great American Songbook, Volume II (which spent 39 weeks on the chart and holds the #66 spot this week on the Top 200).

Both were Grammy Award-nominated titles, and both are certified RIAA double-platinum in the U.S., with combined worldwide sales of more than 10 million copies.

Stardust… now represents Rod’s all-time highest sales week in the Soundscan era, topping As Time Goes By’s 221,646 units during Christmas week of 2003.

For Rod Stewart, the return to the #1 position with Stardust… is cause for celebration. Stardust is Rod’s first #1 debut ever, and his first #1 album since Blondes Have More Fun back in 1979.

The first two albums of The Great American Songbook series, It Had To Be You… (released October 2002) entered the Billboard Top 200 at #4 and As Time Goes By… at #2.

The two albums received consecutive Grammy Award nominations (last year and the year before) in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category.

Comments Clive Davis, Chairman and CEO of BMG North America: “Rod’s first album of The Great American Songbook won a Grammy nomination and literally exploded in sales all over the world,” says Davis.

“Then Volume II repeated the same phenomenon.

Quite simply, Rod uniquely captures the wonderful classics, breathes new life into them and makes them his own.

Stardust… The Great American Songbook: Volume III is sparkling, fresh and alive, with Rod being more and more comfortable in this great genre of music.”

Comments Rod Stewart: “Best of all for me is how much the public loves these albums, but I cannot deny that being #1 has put a big smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye.

I feel boundlessly grateful that these miraculous songs continue to thrill, and tip my hat to the great talents who wrote the songs that have become the Great American Songbook.”

Stardust… also places Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee and Grammy Living Legend Rod Stewart in the extremely rarefied company of veteran artists who’ve experienced more than two decades between #1 albums.

For active recording artists, Rod’s 25 years (1979 to 2004) ranks him alongside Santana’s 28 years (1971 to 1999) and the Isley Brother’s 28 years (1975 to 2003).

On the inactive side, the Beatles went 22 years between #1 albums (1973 to 1995), and Elvis Presley spanned 29 years (1973 to 2002).

The #1 album debut for Stardust… caps an intense month of television, Internet, and radio exposure that built on the popularity of the two previous volumes.

Rod kicked off his television run on the “Today Show” followed by “Weekend Today,” a “Dateline” feature with Katie Couric, appearances on “The View” and “Ellen.”

His A&E “Biography” special premieres tonight on Wednesday, October 27th. On October 18th, the AOL(R) Music LIVE series broadcast an historic concert event from the Apollo Theatre in Harlem and to date has been viewed by over 800,000 people, has been played over 1 million times across the AOL network and has secured well over 60 million impressions. The live audio broadcast concert is currently available on the AOL Radio Network through October 29th and will be archived.

The show is scheduled to air on November 12 in 2,500 Wal-Mart stores nationwide, and aired as a one and half hour Premiere Radio Special the weekend of October 23rd on 41 Clear Channel stations and 12 Infinity stations.

Rod Stewart is also AOL’s Artist of the Month for November.

Adding to the new album’s lustre is Rod’s current single, a timely version of “What A Wonderful World,” featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica.

Mainstream AC radio has exploded in support of Rod’s homage to Louis Armstrong, making “What A Wonderful World” the #1 most-added song at the format it first week. The exposure follows up on Rod’s 82-city tour of 2004, “From Maggie May to the Great American Songbook,” named one of the Top 5 grossing tours of the year by Pollstar magazine.

Stardust… features star-studded guest appearances by Bette Midler on “Manhattan,” Stevie Wonder on the first single “What A Wonderful World,” Dolly Parton on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and Eric Clapton on guitar on “Blue Moon.”

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