While known for writing sultry songs — from "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" to "You're In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)" — Stewart's also not afraid to tackle social issues. In 1976, he broke new ground with "The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II)," about his friend who was killed because of his sexual identity.
Stewart dismisses the idea of being courageous writing the first mainstream pop song to deal with gay bashing. "It was a true story and it's much easier to write about the truth," Stewart said about the iconic song.
The 73-year old crooner gets serious again with his new album's first single, "Didn't I," which deals with teenage substance abuse from the parent's perspective. In an interview with The Associated Press this week, the Grammy-winning singer discussed his longevity in the music business, what he thinks of the #MeToo movement and maintaining his signature hairstyle.
AP: That hair is just amazing. How do you keep it up?
Stewart: It's pretty good, isn't it? I don't know. I think I've just been lucky, you know, with the hair. It gets a lot of manipulation, you know, because I always have to keep it (up). When I'm doing a show, I have to go and dry it. ...I cut it every two weeks. No, but other than that I just think I'm lucky.
AP: You move pretty well onstage for a guy in his seventies...
Stewart: Soccer has always been a passion of mine. You know, I played it, read about it, watched it all my life, and I still play a little bit. And I do work out a lot, I must admit. And that keeps me fit for onstage. How long can I go on? That's the million-dollar question. You know, I enjoy it. I get excited about it, and as long as that exists, I think I can carry on for another three weeks (laughs).
AP: Your two sons were onstage with you at your Madison Square Garden show this week. Do you always take them on the road?
Stewart: They don't come on the stage every night. Only when they're on tour (with me in the summer). And they pester me. The older one is getting a bit too old for it now. But the young one loves it. You know, he loves it. But having younger kids, I've got eight kids all together, certainly does keep you on your toes, and they, especially the youngest one, he's just so cute. He amuses me all day long. It makes me smile. And that's longevity in itself, I think being able to smile all day.
AP: You've always been a fan of the ladies, do you consider yourself a.
Stewart: Sex symbol? Now I hate that word. ..I never purposely went out to attract the opposite sex. I mean, it just comes with the music, you know, the music is very sensuous and vibrant. So, if I do something suggestive onstage it's merely by accident.
AP: "The Killing of Georgie" was bold for its time. Do you feel it helped change attitudes in some small way?
Stewart: Yeah, yeah, you're right. It was actually banned by the BBC when it first came out. But the most interesting thing about "Georgie" is I bump into a lot of people, gay men who say, "You know when 'The Killing of Georgie' came out, it really helped me through my breaking out and feeling proud about who I am." And that means a lot to me.
AP: The industry has changed. Is it no longer sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll?
Stewart: Obviously, I'm not, you know, sweet 16 anymore, and there are things I have to preserve, namely my voice. I really have to look after that. So, as I said, I was never really a druggy-type person because I played football and I was always getting up in the morning playing football and so that side hasn't changed a great deal for me.
AP: But things are changing, especially with the #MeToo movement.
Stewart: Well that's true. There were a lot of women throwing themselves at us in the '70s and '80s, and they were good old times, really great times. But, you know, the #MeToo movement is long overdue. But I must admit I've never had trouble, you know, entertaining women. I've always enjoyed the chase, actually. I'd never thrown myself on any woman. You know, I enjoyed romance and then the chase.
AP: Do you ever look back and go, "Wow, what a career?"
Stewart: Every day. Every day. I never take it for granted. I really don't. You know, it's just the best job in the world. I know that's an old cliche, but it really is. (President Donald) Trump thinks he's got a good job. I've really got a great job.