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Rod Stewart Scores First-Ever No. 1 Debut with <i>Stardust</i>

Over the past two years, veteran British rocker Rod Stewart has been exploring material from classic American composers of the 20th century. Rod has scored his first-ever Number One debut with his new release, Stardust: The Great American Songbook, Volume III.

The last time Rod Stewart reached Number One with the 1979 album Blondes Have More Fun, Jimmy Carter was President of the United States and the first Star Wars film was creating box office history. Rod has made some rock and roll history of his own, as part of the British blues revival of the 1960s', lead singer of the Small Faces, a multi-million-selling solo artist and Rock And Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

In 2002, at the suggestion of music industry legend and producer Clive Davis, Rod released the first in his Great American Songbook series of pop standards. That album, as well as the 2003 sequel, reached the Top Five. Growing up in England, Rod says he and his family listened to music by American composers such as George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, Rogers and Hart and others. "Best of all for me is how much the public loves these albums, but I cannot deny that being Number One has put a big smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye," Rod comments.

"Manhattan," from Rod Stewart's Stardust album features New York singer and actress Bette Midler. Other guest artists include Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder and country star Dolly Parton. Interpreting songs that were first recorded by greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra, Rod says, "The one thing you mustn't do is try to sound like Frank or Billie. They've done them so well. I have to put my own stamp on them. 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."

Rod Stewart has just started the next leg of his world tour, where he's been performing music from his Songbook series, as well as his greatest hits. He says he plans to get back to his roots with a new rock album in 2005. He's also scheduled to receive a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame next year.

The release of Rod's latest album has increased sales of the previous two Songbook collections. The three CDs in the series have collectively sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. alone.