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Top fan plays musical hero: What it's like to be a Rod Stewart impersonator

By Heather Large | Music | Published:

Garry Pease not only looks like Sir Rod Stewart, he sounds like him too. From the first time he heard the singer's famous chart-topper Maggie May on the radio he was hooked.

Rod Stewart act Garry Pease, performs at the Park Inn, Walsall

And now, having been a fan of the legendary performer for more than 40 years, Garry spends his nights on stage emulating his musical hero.

With his uncanny resemblance the ever-popular star he has been performing as Sir Rod at venues across the globe for 12 years.

Tonight he will performing is tribute show at Banks Bistro before heading to watch the Scottish rocker live in concert at Molineux.

With his signature voice, style and songwriting, Sir Rod is one of the few acts to enjoy chart-topping albums throughout every decade of his career.

Garry believes they are many reasons why both the singer and his tracks have stood the test of time.

"He's always tried to stay fairly current on the music scene and you instantly know it's Rod when you hear him. And they are usually very good songs," he tells Weekend.

Rod Stewart fans join on stage Garry Pease, as he performs at the Park Inn, Walsall

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Despite his huge popularity and success since, becoming a tribute act to the singer, who has sold more than 200 million records worldwide, wasn't something Garry planned.

It actually all started by accident when one night he was invited up on stage to sing a tune of his choice at a social club.

Garry, who even has a look-a-like head of hair, chose Sir Rod's 1975 international hit Sailing which went down a storm with the appreciative audience.

So much so that people suggested he tried doing it for a living and he began perfecting the voice, mannerisms and moves of the now 74-year-old.

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With help from his wife Karen, Garry, who often has passers-by doing a double take, set up the Rod Stewart Experience and toured pubs and clubs in the Black Country.

As the number of bookings for his show increased he was able to give up his job as a machinist at nuts and bolts factory Stanley Horne to turn professional and has never looked back.

Since then he has become known for his all action, non-stop performance which breezes through the icon's back catalogue from early Faces numbers right up to the Old American Songbook.

Rod Stewart and Garry Pease

Highlights include his old favourites from Handbags & Gladrags to This Old Heart of Mine and Maggie May to You’re In My Heart with Sailing and The First Cut Is The Deepest thrown in for good measure.

The Walsall grandfather has even been to Dubai to perform there and has travelled to all over Europe including Spain, Ireland and Holland.

Garry performs around 150 shows a year and regularly appears on stage at the Rod Stewart Big Weekend which has been taking place in Walsall since 2010 - having previously been held in Blackpool.

This year's event, held in March, saw hundreds of fans descend on the Black Country including some who had travelled from as far away as America to attend.

"It was fantastic. They raised £13,000 for the Make a Wish charity," says Garry, who is one of Europe's leading Sir Rod tribute acts, known for his showmanship and encouraging audiences to get involved.

Despite having been to hundreds of Rod Stewart shows, he didn't come face-to-face with his musical icon until he appeared on ITV's Loose Women in 2015.

Garry Pease as Rod Stewart

He was one of three Rod tribute acts who performed in the studio watched by the main man himself.

Garry got the chance to chat to Rod after the show when the former Faces frontman’s car was late picking him up.

Talking to the Rod Stewart Fan Club about the experience, he later said: "What an honour and a privilege to be able to appear on the show and finally meet and speak to my hero.

"Managed to shake his hand and get a couple of dodgy photos, but finally got to talk to him when everyone thought he had gone.

"He came back into the studios because his car was late. I had a good five or 10 minutes to chat with him and couldn't believe my luck."

And Garry, who performs as a solo act as well as with a full band as Rod And The Facez, added that now when people ask him if he’s met Rod he can finally say yes.

As well as Loose Women, Garry has been on ITV's Stars And Their Doubles with other appearances on the BBC, MTV and Sky.

Rod Stewart act Garry Pease, performs at the Park Inn, Walsall

Over the years he has also taken part in numerous fundraisers including the Mayor of Sandwell’s Big Night Out, which raised money for Acorns Hospice, at Wednesbury Town Hall and an entertainment night held in support of Darlaston Town (1874) FC.

He says "meeting other Rod fans and seeing the smiles on people's faces" are reasons why he loves doing what he does.

When asked to describe how it feels every time he is on stage performing as Sir Rod, he says: "It's a fantastic feeling when everyone's enjoying themselves and having a brilliant time singing, listening and dancing to this great music."

See www.rodstewartexperience.co.uk

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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