LONDON – Rod Stewart, known for decades as a consummate crooner, rocker, fashion plate and tongue-in-cheek sex symbol, is adding a new element to his image: serious model railroad builder.
The former front man of the Faces who has hits dating back to the 1960s has put the finishing touch on a 23-year project that has landed him on the cover of Britain’s Railway Modeller magazine. It’s a far cry from Rolling Stone, whose cover he has graced many times.
The model is an ambitious portrayal of a gritty American city in 1945, representing a combination of New York and Chicago. It’s an artistic success, one that Stewart didn’t outsource but designed and constructed from start to finish, with some help with the electrical and computer connections.
“It’s the detail that I’m proud of,” Stewart said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Stewart is modest about hits like “Maggie May” but proud of his railway design skills.
“Absolutely amazing detail,” Steward said. “There’s garbage in the streets, the windows are filthy, there’s everything you can imagine in real life is on the railroad.”
He grew up in London across the street from a railroad line and has been fascinated by trains ever since, taking mental notes on his extensive world travels.
When he got around to building a house in Beverly Hills, he added a room at the very top for his oversize model railroad. He would typically go up there for three or four hours at a time, quietly stepping away from his family and his musical responsibilities.