by Randal Hill, Lifestyles After 50 Music Writer
When a major music tour makes its second stop (of an 18-city tour) in Tampa on July 8th, the combined ages of its two flamboyant, award winning headliners will total 136 years. Rockin’ Rod Stewart is 72, with Stage Sister Cyndi Lauper close behind at 64. But these troopers aren’t ready for afternoon naps or shuffleboard courts. In fact, expect the Stewart-Lauper team to knock the socks off all those in attendance at Amalie Arena.
Opening act Lauper will be offering her string of iconic 1980s hits, which include Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Time After Time, She Bop and True Colors. Growing up in Queens, New York, Lauper began singing and writing songs on an acoustic guitar at age 12. She quit school at 17 after being rejected and taunted for her eccentric clothing and hair colors. With her dog named Sparkle, she spent two weeks in a tent in Canada, contemplating her future.
Eventually Lauper worked her
way through a series of unsuccessful
bands—Doc West, Flyer, Blue Angel— where her powerful four-octave voice never failed to impress. In 1981, she signed with Portrait/Epic Records. Her debut album, She’s So Unusual, included four Top 10 singles, which along with quirky MTV videos, helped make her a superstar.
Headliner Stewart was the pampered youngest of five children. Growing up in North London, he embraced the music of American rockers Little Richard, Bill Haley and Eddie Cochran who inspired him to sing and master the acoustic guitar. A natural athlete,
Stewart captained his school’s football (soccer) team. He left school and tried, but failed, to become a pro athlete.
No problem. Stewart once said, “A musician’s life is a lot easier, and I can also get drunk and make music, and I can’t do that and play football.”
He worked with a series of London bands, singing in a voice that became increasingly raspy. Soon he was known as “Rod the Mod” after fashioning the spiky rooster hairstyle that became his visual trademark.
Stewart broke into the Big Time in
1971 with the worldwide hit Maggie
May, the first of three dozen hits he
would cut during the next three decades.
He will undoubtedly offer up Maggie at
the Amalie, as well as such other crowd
favorites as Tonight’s the Night, Do Ya
Think I’m Sexy, Downtown Train and
Have I told You Lately. As with pal Lauper,
ageless Stewart still thrills at being the
consummate performer. “Being on that
stage is highly addictive,” he once testified.
“There’s no drug like it in the world.”
But then, some guys have all the luck, don’t they, Rod?