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STYLE & CULTURE

From rocker to crooner in one change of label

October 16, 2002|Times Staff Writer

A dapper Rod Stewart stepped from the limousine, adjusted his pinstriped suit and greeted the waiting cameras, with his girlfriend, Penny Lancaster, two blond daughters and their new friend, Jack Osbourne, in tow. There was just time enough outside the St. Regis Hotel in Century City for a few sound bites before the Monday night record release party.

"This is big," said Stewart, shifting his weight. "It's very big. This, I've never done before." Lancaster beamed at the cameras and demonstrated the gravity of the evening by showing off her shoes: "I've got on a low heel so I wouldn't be taller than him!"

Then the Stewart entourage was off, past the check-in table (the singer announced himself as he walked past attendants), past photographers and then a pause for a witty exchange with reporters. Inspiration, he told them, requires "lots of sex and lots of wine."

Inside, Stewart was awaited by hundreds of people sipping wine and crowding around the Asian food buffet. Record label executives, old friend Robbie Robertson, producer Lawrence Bender and novelist Jackie Collins were there, all of them eager to experience Stewart's latest incarnation: the Crooner.

The party was hosted by J Records' chairman Clive Davis to celebrate the singer's first release for the label, "It Had to Be You

Due out Tuesday, the record features 14 American pop standards, among them George and Ira Gershwin's "They Can't Take That Away From Me."

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