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Interview with Rod Stewart, Penny Lancaster, Tim Blixseth, Edra Blixseth

Aired October 15, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight Rod Stewart, he's been a wild and crazy Rock and Roll legend and international sex symbol, romancing some of the world's most beautiful women. And now he's bigger than ever and as a family man, crooning Sinatra star classics.

Rod Stewart talks to me and other surprises, next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: A return visit tonight with one of my favorite people, the legendary Rod Stewart. During the past couple of years, he's had an amazing success, a series of albums featuring unique interpretations of classic pop songs. His career turned -- earned by the way his first Grammy with all those big hits. Now he gets a Grammy.

His new album is "Thanks for the Memory... The Great American Songbook Volume IV". It will be released Tuesday, October 18. You see its cover. Later his fiancee, Penny Lancaster, who is about to be two people, will be joining us and this past Tuesday it was my honor to present him on the Hollywood Walk of Fame when he got his star, the two thousand, two hundred and ninety third star at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard.

Congratulations Rod.

ROD STEWART, ENTERTAINER: Thank you Larry. Thank you very much.

KING: How did this pomp thing -- how did it begin? How did the idea...


KING: ... that you would do Gershwin?

STEWART: Well my regular Rock and Roll career sort of fallen on stony ground. Well it was doing great. You know I was putting bums on the seats, wasn't selling many albums. And this was totally my idea and I just have always loved these songs. They've been part of my warm-up repertoire, you know, before I do shows...

KING: So you've always sung them?

STEWART: Yes and I've always been deeply in love with it really.

KING: So when you took it to, whom? Whom did you take the idea to? The record -- who put it together?

STEWART: Well I was out of contracts at the time, so I started recording these with a good friend of mine, Richard Perry. He was a producer...

KING: Great guy...

STEWART: ... just on Friday nights we'd get drunk and just turn the machine on...


STEWART: ... and we took the tape to various record companies, but Clive Davis & J Records were the ones that really loved it. So, but Clive decided that he wanted it to be done in a contemporary mode and it wasn't working. Clive said no, it's a good idea, but let's go back and do it the traditional way.

KING: Do it the way Sinatra...

STEWART: Do it the way...


STEWART: ... written, yes.

KING: The way they -- you were doing it more...


KING: ... modern...

STEWART: ... drum machines and synthesizers, which was interesting, but you know Clive didn't like it.

KING: Were you surprised at what happened to it?

STEWART: God blimey yes, it was I thought if it sells, you know it was something I wanted to get off my chest. You know, as the time goes by, you want to get these things done and I thought well if it sells 50,000, 100,000 copies, that'll cover me investment, but lo and behold, it went in the charts, the first one, at number four, and we sold three million just in this country. And sold in places you would never think like Brazil and Poland, you know it's incredible...

KING: And in retrospect...

STEWART: What does that mean?


KING: Looking back...


KING: ... why do you think it caught on...


KING: Certainly that music is not played every day on the radio.


KING: ... played on the oldie stations now...


KING: You're on XM radio and Sirius radio on the classic, you know, the Frank Studio (ph)...


KING: Rod Stewart is played when -- you're not played on modern rock number one radio stations...

STEWART: No, that's not...

KING: So why did it sell?

STEWART: It -- I think it was a combination of ,you know, the contemporary voice, gorgeous songs, magnificent marketing, and I think there was a need for this music in our lives now. We've had so many disasters and terrible things happen to us that I think it's -- people find it uplifting.

KING: You had the wonderful Steve Tyrell produce it for you...


KING: He's a good friend of mine...

STEWART: Yes, a lovely guy...

KING: Boy, he knows...

STEWART: He knows the stuff.

KING: He can sing too.

STEWART: Yes. He's not as good as me, but he's pretty good...

KING: What was it like to finally earn a Grammy?

STEWART: Oh, it was wonderful. I was more pleased for my kids because they kept saying to me, said oh daddy, everyone has got Grammys. You haven't got one. You can't be very good, you know, like Sting...

KING: How many times have you been nominated?

STEWART: Fourteen times.

KING: OK, did you expect to win?

STEWART: No. No. I thought maybe I had done something terribly, terribly wrong in my past...

KING: Who were you up against? Tony Bennett and people like that...

STEWART: Tony Bennett and I can't remember who the others were, but I was most delighted just to get one and if I never win another one, that's fine.

KING: Now, then the idea propelled to do four, now the fourth album is out, right?

STEWART: Yes. Yes.

KING: Is this going to add on -- there's a million pop songs.


KING: How long are you going to keep doing them?

STEWART: Well we're going to give it a rest after this one, which will be number four for a couple of years and hopefully move on to something. We're going to call it "Great American Soul Book", which will be interesting and then come back and do a fifth album sooner or later. So I've got the songs all lined up, so it's only a matter of time getting in the studio.

KING: Soul Book?

STEWART: Soul Book, you know...

KING: Right.

STEWART: ... great soul songs...

KING: Ray Charles...

STEWART: Ray Charles, you know, and you know Don Covey (ph), Solomon Grotecks (ph), Wilson Pickett, all my heroes.

KING: When you grew up, you grew up where?

STEWART: Still growing up Larry...

KING: Yes. What are we going to be when we grow up, right? Where did you grow up?

STEWART: In North London, a place called Highgate...

KING: Poor?

STEWART: Poor, but happy. That's what we certainly were, a very close-knit family. There was five of us when we started out, two brothers -- three brothers and two sisters.

KING: Some pass away?

STEWART: Yes, my sister passed away. She had M.S., bless her.

KING: Did you sing early on?

STEWART: No, I was absolutely petrified of singing. Everybody sung in my family. You know, we'd have these great big house parties at Christmas and all the aunts and uncles come over and everybody would sing but little Roddy, me. I'd hide under the piano. You know I would never sing. I never sang when I was at school. In music lessons when it was my turn to sing, I'd fake illness and...

KING: Really?

STEWART: ... leave the room. I was petrified.

KING: You were bashful?

STEWART: Yes, extremely bashful and never had any -- didn't think I had any musical inclination.

KING: What happened?

STEWART: Me ole dad, bless his cotton socks...

KING: Good ole dad...

STEWART: ... he bought me a guitar, a second-hand guitar and he said son, I think there might be some money in this, and he -- I actually wanted a railway station for my model railway. I was 13 or 14, maybe at the time. He bought me a guitar and the rest is history.

KING: Oh, you liked it right away?

STEWART: Yes, it's -- it was difficult because the only bloke I knew how to tune it up lived about a mile away, so by the time I'd walked to his house and he'd tune it up, and I'd get back home and start playing, it was out of tune again. It was only a cheap...

KING: Did anyone teach you to play?

STEWART: No, no, no, self-taught totally. All the songs I wrote, you know, like "Hot Legs", (UNINTELLIGIBLE), "Tonight's the Night", all those songs were more or less just with three or four chords...

KING: Right. All right, you're still shy, though, right? You're just feeling it through a guitar?


KING: What brought you to become a professional? What happened?

STEWART: Just some luck really. You know being at the right place at the right time. As I keep telling my daughter, Ruby, who wants to sing, it's -- you've got to take the knocks and the bashes, you know, because you'll get turned down and eventually you'll get through. But it's one of the most difficult professions to succeed in...


STEWART: ... even more so now than it was when I started.

KING: More people in it...

STEWART: Oh yes, everybody...

KING: But for a shy kid, what even brought you the idea of going on a stage?

STEWART: A wonderful guy who just passed away, he was instrumental in bringing blues to the U.K., Long John Baldry. He heard me singing on a railway station, playing the harmonica. You know I'd had a few drinks, and he said -- I was 18 at the time, and he said why don't you join our band? You know, I need someone to sing. I need someone to warm the audience up and so I was absolutely petrified but I gave it a go, you know, and that's how I got started and that was 1963, '64.

KING: You remember your first night on the stage?

STEWART: Yes, indeed I do. Can I tell the story?

KING: Please.


KING: All right, let me get a break and come back and tell it.


KING: Rod Stewart's first night as a professional. The new album "Thanks for the Memory", it's number -- it's the fourth in the series. They've all been runaway best sellers. We'll be right back.




KING: We're back with Rod Stewart. By the way, he's going to sing for us tonight. You're going to really get a kick out of that. And we're going to meet his fiancee.

But OK, the story of first night performing.

STEWART: Yes, this was -- as I said, I was with the Long John Baldry band first night in Manchester and I was petrified. And John's musicians were all jazz guys, you know, and one of them said I know you're scared. He said take this little black pill.


STEWART: So I said OK. I never knew what it was.

KING: How old were you?

STEWART: Oh, 16, 17 maybe. And so I took this pill and we were doing an all night show, and I was going to do "Nightime is the Right Time" by Ray Charles.

KING: Yes.

STEWART: We're supposed to last about three and a half minutes, only had to do one song. I made it last 20 minutes. They couldn't get me off the stage. They were dragging me off, you know, bombed out of me mind.

KING: What was the pill?

STEWART: Yes, it was an amphetamine, as they called it...


STEWART: ... in those days.

KING: So did you though like it? Did you like the crowd? Did you like it?

STEWART: Yes, what I could remember I thoroughly enjoyed it and that was it. I was like a, you know, couldn't wait to get back on the stage the next night without the amphetamine. You know just...

KING: What did your folks think?

STEWART: They were so supportive. You know, the old saying used to be in those days when you're going into music, they'd say well, you know, get a day job. You know, get something behind you in case it fails. And my mom and dad were just great. I mean they said go on, go for it. You know, try and make this work because at the time the Beatles were just taking off and it was all new and fresh and I got lucky.

I got turned down by a lot of record companies. All the big record companies turned me down. They said your voice is too rough. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: It is a rough voice.

STEWART: It is a rough voice, but it's...

KING: So what changed? What led to the first -- how did you get the first recording?

STEWART: Let me see, the first recordings were -- I went to so many recordings that were -- you know where I wasn't signed up and I'd do demos...

KING: Did you form a group?

STEWART: Loads of groups, but the most -- first really important band I was in was called the Jeff Beck Group. Jeff Beck is a wonderful guitar player and that was the first time I came to America and that was like 1969.

KING: Did you have a hit record?

STEWART: No, no, no, we were purely an album band, but I remember the first time we played in New York at the Fillmore East. I was so scared I sung the first two or three numbers from behind the amps. I wouldn't come out. I was hiding. You know rock me baby, yes, under the -- there was no singer on the stage because I was so terrified.

KING: What was the breakthrough for Rod Stewart?

STEWART: Well obviously, you know, signing a solo recording contract way back in 1970 and...

KING: How did you get that?

STEWART: I was approached by Mercury Records. You know I had just got a manager and they said and I'd just also joined The Faces and so they said we want you to make solo albums. Then it was "Maggie May" and that's it.

KING: Did "Maggie May", was that the first hit?

STEWART: Yes. Yes.

KING: That took off, right?

STEWART: Huge. Yes, all around the world.

KING: What did that do to you psyche wise? What was it -- suddenly here's this poor kid...


KING: ... knocking around, bashful. He's now got a worldwide hit.

STEWART: The first thing I did, I remember I was still living in a house. I was very fortunate that I saved my money and I still do. I bought my house, it went for six and a half thousand pounds, which in those days was a nice tidy sum and I actually had a Lamborghini car outside that was worth nine thousand, so the car was worth more than the house. So that's where the money went and I've always been a car fanatic and still am.

KING: Still you've got a lot of cars?

STEWART: Well you know one or two. (CROSSTALK)

KING: But, what was it like to suddenly be known? To be in demand?

STEWART: Oh it was wonderful. You know, I had no trouble with the girls. I'm sure Penny won't mind me saying that.


STEWART: That was a long time ago. You know that was one thing that really changed. You know I was always pretty good with the girls, but you know having this amount of success...

KING: Being a rock star...

STEWART: Being a rock star...

KING: In other words, all those stories...


KING: ... are true.


KING: And about the women who hang around rock stars...

STEWART: Yes. Yes...

KING: ... they're true too.

STEWART: That's very true, yes. We could tell you some stories, but we won't go into that.

KING: Did you ever get involved in the drug scene?

STEWART: No, I've never...

KING: How did you avoid that...


KING: It was so prevalent.

STEWART: You know it's interesting, I got asked that question the other day and I've never really -- you know I've dabbled in it a little bit and that would be about it because I've always played football all my life, you know...

KING: Soccer...

STEWART: Yes, soccer as you call it...

(CROSSTALK) STEWART: ... all my life it's been such an important part of my life and I think -- you know I would think well I'm not going to really do that because I've got a game on Sunday and another one on Saturday, so I'm going to, you know, so I've never really been a drug person.

KING: You play on organized teams?

STEWART: Not recently because I've had a substantial knee injury, but I'm going to make a comeback pretty soon, yes...

KING: Did you play organized...

STEWART: Oh yes, yes, well organized.


STEWART: Had my own pitch in England, which is full size. It's 115 yards by 85 yards...

KING: Really?


KING: Could you have been a professional soccer player?

STEWART: No, not at the time. I was -- I didn't have the commitment. I was pretty good. There was no -- you know in those days you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) apprentice, you have to get up and clean the first team's boots and do all these mundane jobs, and I wasn't cut out for it. I was a bit of a sleeper-inner.

KING: What position?

STEWART: Mid field usually.

KING: All right. Did you follow up "Maggie May" with another hit?

STEWART: More or less. Yes, it was always in the same vein. It was a song called "You Wear it Well", which got to number two in this country, did great.

KING: Now the Beatles were already a major hit, right?

STEWART: Yes, yes.

KING: But the British invasion had already taken place?


KING: Were you a big hit in the states?

STEWART: I was getting myself a pretty good reputation with the Jeff Beck Group and then when "Maggie May" took off, I was with a band called The Faces. Bless them. You know I don't know there are worst drinkers in the world. I don't know how we're all still alive, but one of us is actually gone. But that was the band that really established me in the United States, The Faces.

KING: And you toured and did concerts and...

STEWART: ... sorts of things, Larry, we did.

KING: Like what else? Did you ever do a film?

STEWART: We never did pills. We used to bust up (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hotels. This is not something I'm exactly proud of. I don't want my children to see this, but I'm sure they will. But people ask me, they say why is it you and The Who -- The Faces and The Who, we were the first ones to do it, bust up hotels.

KING: Why?

STEWART: Well it was because we never got any respect. That's the only reason we did it. You know...

KING: So you would just literally throw the furniture around...

STEWART: And the alcohol had something to do with it as well...


KING: Throw the TV set against the wall...

STEWART: Yes, the TVs out the window...

KING: ... and then have to pay the hotel, right?

STEWART: Yes, yes, yes. We were good about it, you know, rowdies would go down in the morning and just go...

KING: What do we owe?

STEWART: What do we owe...


KING: We'll be back with more of Rod Stewart and then we're going to meet Penny Lancaster and talk about -- he's going to be a father again in late November and then he's going to sing for us.

Don't go away.




KING: We're back with Rod Stewart. His latest is "Thanks for the Memory... The Great American Songbook" and you know that great song is included. Grammy award winner Rod Stewart got his new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In a little while he'll sing one of the -- one of my all time favorite songs, "Long Ago and Far Away". We'll also meet Penny Lancaster.

Do you have any -- how old are you Rod?


KING: You look younger.

STEWART: Thank you.

KING: Have you always had a young approach to things? I mean do you...

STEWART: Yes, basically. It's -- yes, I do, yes, a youthful approach and also my, you know, obviously my young wife helps me and my kids. You know they're all wonderful and vibrant, but...

KING: How many children do you have?

STEWART: Five and another one on the way.

KING: Now, how do you feel at 60 being a parent?

STEWART: Oh, it's brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I'm looking forward to it, you know.

KING: What is it like -- did your fans grow up with you? Like, are they all older now...

STEWART: In their sixties?


STEWART: No, it's a fair, you know, spattering across the board when I do concerts. But you know hopefully some of them will stay with me.

KING: You get younger people too?

STEWART: Oh yes, yes, yes. All the time. You know I'm sure it's because the parents will say well I'm going to see this guy and see what he's like. We used to like him. Maybe you'll like him and so that's how it goes.

KING: How do you pick the songs?

STEWART: For the albums?

KING: Yes...


KING: "Thanks for the Memory", how do you pick the songs? STEWART: It's really done by a committee. Clive Davis, my manager, Arnold Stiefel, and myself, but you know since these albums have been successful, people send me little notes in restaurants and stop me in the street...


STEWART: ... yes, which is really sweet.

KING: Do you take one note from one song and one from another?

STEWART: No, no.

KING: So when I hear you sing "Thanks for the Memory", you sung that all the way through. It isn't one line from one cut and one from another?

STEWART: It could have been, but as you're going to hear, when I go and sing, it's -- I can do it all in one go, but sometimes that's the wonderful thing about recording now, is you can take one line from another, a temp, and put it in the temp that you like...

KING: You can do anything, right?

STEWART: Anybody can sing nowadays. It's extraordinary.

KING: You can make a non-singer a singer...

STEWART: Yes. Yes. You could do it, Larry. I know you could. It's unbelievable.

KING: Maybe we (UNINTELLIGIBLE) together. All right, now how about the duets? Picking the people to sing with you, which you did on this album, right?

STEWART: Well...

KING: Do you sing with them or did they cut theirs in a different place?

STEWART: Yes, we cut them in different places, which is you know people's schedules are so tight now, but it actually works out for the good. Although I know Chaka Kahn (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We're not -- the two girls, we're not really close, so it gets rid of that shyness that you're going to have when you walk in to sing together...

KING: ... the cases, did you sing with anyone?

STEWART: No, not any of the albums. It sounds like we do. I just close me eyes and I imagine Diana Ross is next to me and you know. But, Elton John was the only one I approached personally because he's a dear, dear mate of mine. I love him to death. And he said yes, Rod, I'll sing with you. You know, you've done so much for me and so he was the only one I approached. Otherwise, it's Clive Davis and Steve Tyrell.

KING: In a couple of minutes, we're going to meet Penny. How did you meet Penny?

STEWART: Six years ago at the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to the hotel in London...

KING: In London...

STEWART: ... in a nightclub. And one of her friends sent her up to get my autograph. And I was absolutely blown away...

KING: She came up to...


KING: ... get the autograph for her friend...

STEWART: You know she's 6'1"...

KING: Yes. She came up to get the autograph for her friend.

STEWART: Her friend who didn't have the guts to do it and that's how we met.

KING: Well the world is going to see her in a minute. What did you think when you saw this? Well you've had so many women.

STEWART: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and I've enjoyed it as well. But, when I saw her, you know, it wasn't what I'd call love at first sight. It wasn't, you know, that but my God, it certainly is now. I'm deeply madly in love with her. It's nice when it works like that...

KING: Yes. Rod Stewart is the guest. The new album "Thanks for the Memory" and when we come back, Penny joins us.

Don't go away.




KING: Welcome back. Later on we'll meet an extraordinary story of a billionaire giving back.

Right now the picture on the screen improves dramatically because there she is. Penny Lancaster, Rod Stewart's fiancee. They -- when are you due?

PENNY LANCASTER, FIANCEE OF ROD STEWART: The first week of December, Larry.

KING: And it will be a...

LANCASTER: I don't know.

(LAUGHTER) KING: You don't know?


KING: Most everybody wants to know now.

LANCASTER: I know. I just don't -- well if all the technology today and all the things you can find out, I thought I'd go back the natural way and wait until the big day...

KING: How do you feel about that?

STEWART: I'm for whatever she wants. She's going to have a water birth as well and I have to get in the tub with her.

KING: It's going to be a water birth?


LANCASTER: And he's got his Speedos ready.

KING: Explain that, a water birth.

LANCASTER: Well it's suggested because the baby's been in the womb in water for nine to 10 months so it's less stressful when the baby comes out and it's less traumatic and more relaxing for the mother and so, who knows?

KING: You'll give birth in London?

LANCASTER: In London, yes. We fly to - on to New York to do some more promotions for Rod and then back to London and just waiting game.

KING: Is this your first baby?

LANCASTER: It is. I'm very excited.

KING: First marriage?


STEWART: She's (inaudible) a little bit now. She used to talk about it a lot. I think she's changing her mind a little bit.

LANCASTER: Not at all. Not at all.

STEWART: Obviously she's concentrating on the birth.

KING: When is the wedding?

LANCASTER: Well - Rod proposed to me in Paris. I was tearing out old scrapbook ideas and wedding dresses and making collages up and then he very excitedly found out that we had one on the way so it was sort of wedding dresses to one side and kind of baby books but we sort of thought maybe though somewhere next year, possibly the south of France where we just bought a house together or in London but ...

KING: When you're married you want the baby to have - you want it to all be legal?

STEWART: Oh yeah. I mean this was a planned baby.

KING: It was.

STEWART: I just want make sure everybody knows that. Because of our advanced years, Larry, we have to go down that ...

KING: I know the route.

OK. You said it wasn't love at first sight and you're delivering something for a friend. What was it like for you?

LANCASTER: Well, it was a Christmas party so we had all had a few to drink and yeah, a friend of mine was just too nervous and she said, go on, Penny, you've got the guts, you go and ask and he was very charming and asked me to sit down and gave me an autograph and carried on with this wonderful talent that he has ...

STEWART: Well (ph)?

LANCASTER: (inaudible)

KING: Want to straighten that out for the ...

LANCASTER: He was being very flattering towards me and asked what I did and I was studying photography at the time and he said, would you like to take my photo tomorrow night at my last concert at Ellscourt (ph) so there I was ...

KING: Oh. Sharp.

LANCASTER: He's got the tongue.

KING: So he invited you to come and take his picture at the concert.


KING: So you were in the first row there shooting?

LANCASTER: I was there snapping away. Went back to college, processed the film and I thought that was it. I thought it was just a wonderful opportunity and he was being very generous and didn't think of anything more of it until nine months later and this would be six years ago that he left a message and said, let's catch up, I'm back in town and I want to see those photos.

KING: It took you nine months?

STEWART: Good question. The bass player in the band at the time, bless him, didn't think I was ready to go out with such a wonderfully innocent girl ... KING: And he talked you into this?

STEWART: He withheld the phone number for I think it wasn't nine months - it was about six months.

KING: He had the phone number?

STEWART: He withheld the phone number.

LANCASTER: Because I never believed it was right on the phone. I thought it was a prank. But we did catch up that evening and ...

KING: Did you remember liking him?

LANCASTER: I remember being very nervous and I remember not wanting to make the wrong impression and I was quite conscious of what I was going to be wearing so I didn't want to wear a short skirt and look too flirtatious so I wore my Pleather trousers and I was being professional because he wanted to see the photos.

KING: Are you still a photographer?

LANCASTER: I am, yes. Yes.

KING: Do you photograph professionally?

LANCASTER: I photographed Rod quite a few times. Did the front cover of "Architectural Digest" and this last month finished a commission through London and we're going back to London for the exhibition.

KING: To shoot what?

LANCASTER: Mainly portraits, lifestyle. I think because being a model you're sort of back and forth and you get a feel for what it's ...

KING: So you're a model, too.

LANCASTER: Yeah. Yeah.

KING: You model any special thing ...

LANCASTER: I started ...

KING: Hosiery?

STEWART: Luxury underwear, yes.

KING: Luxury underwear?

STEWART: She looks a fair piece in the underwear, I'll tell you.

KING: I'll bet you - yes, you would know.

When did you know it was love, Rod? STEWART: Well, as I said, it was a natural progress. It was just getting better and better and better and probably when we were six months into it was, I really like this girl.

KING: You became a couple.


KING: I remember seeing you during those times and suddenly she was always with you.

STEWART: Yeah. I was a bit gun shy. Had just come out of a broken marriage so your heart tends to close down a little bit and you don't want anybody coming in. You know.

So her kindness opened my eyes.

KING: She's a nice person.

STEWART: Yeah. I love her.

KING: When did you know?

STEWART: (inaudible) ask her.

LANCASTER: As Rob said, when I first met him I was still living in London. I was completing my college course. So that first year was sort of the building brick (inaudible) and laying the foundation and I was just popping over in my school holidays to visit him and just getting to know the children and the whole lifestyle, it was ...

KING: Do you get along well with the kids?

LANCASTER: Yeah. Fabulously. And there was times where things had their awkward moments but I think with any (inaudible) when there's other children around so I just tiptoed around and was myself and ...

KING: Did the age difference affect or bother you?

LANCASTER: Not at all. This man is no 60 year old.

KING: Did it bother you?

STEWART: No. Not at all. I've always found myself going out with younger women and it doesn't bother me at all. Her father is just sort of six months older than me. So he's a great mate. We're just good pals.

LANCASTER: You know how all girls want their husband to be just like their dad so ...

KING: Is he like your dad?

LANCASTER: Well, they've both got a wonderful sense of humor and they got on fabulously from the same era, of course, so they talk about their history and music and ...

STEWART: She talks to me too, sometimes, obviously. It's most unsettling.

KING: Home will be where?

STEWART: Her home - we're both Londoners. I'm a Cockney Scotsman, as you know. We love going back to London but it's going to be here for a while because I've got five kids here.

KING: In L.A.?

STEWART: Yeah, they're all still growing up here, so.

LANCASTER: Just the priorities - as Rod knew I'm coming along there's a bond with the other five children. Keep the family thing going.

KING: You like L.A.?

LANCASTER: I do. I love L.A. There's nothing quite like England but it's - a good second (inaudible).

KING: How do you feel about this extraordinary career he's had? New career.

LANCASTER: Amazing. And I have to admit, I didn't know much about Rod Stewart when I first met him.


LANCASTER: I haven't missed that many concerts since we've known each other.

KING: Still get a kick watching him sing?

LANCASTER: Oh, totally. Rod, don't you get bored? But his charisma he has on stage and the way ...

KING: You like the way he moves.

LANCASTER: Oh, it's incredible. And the reaction with the crowd. It's just a complete love fest. But now hearing his voice singing those new songs, it takes a whole different dimension.

KING: As soon as you have a baby, let us know.

LANCASTER: Thank you.

KING: You have name for it? A boy or a girl?

LANCASTER: We've got Wallace as a middle name for a boy if it's a boy. My granddad.

KING: Nothing for a girl? STEWART: Can I say one thing? Penny, you don't realize how many wonderfully famous buttons (ph) of salneech (ph) has for presidents, leaders, politicians.

KING: Ah. None prettier than you.

STEWART: Ah. Thank you.

KING: Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster. When we come back, Rod sings. And I tell you, it's one of my favorite songs. Don't go away.



KING: We can't conclude an evening with Rod Stewart and not have him sing. It's always been one of my favorite songs. The lyrics by Ira Gershwin. How many people know that Ira just didn't write with George? He also wrote with the great Jerome Kern.

And this is Kern and Gershwin and Stewart and "Long Ago and Far Away." Enjoy.



KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE an extraordinary couple, Tim and Edra Blixseth, with an estimated worth of $1 billion, Tim just made "Forbes Magazine" list of the 400 richest people in America and I have the magazine in front of me to prove it and let me tell you what it says.

A minister's son who skipped college, failed as a Hollywood songwriter, made his first million with an investment in a timber company and now, of course, has timberland and real estate, is worth $1 billion, is on the "Forbes" list but that is why he is not here tonight.

He is here because of the song, "Heart of America." It's been recorded by - Give me a little history of this, Tim. How did this come about? What is your connection?

TIM BLIXSETH, BILLIONAIRE: Well, like all of us, I was moved when the Katrina event happened and the hurricane so I think every one of us seemed to reach out and say, how can I help?

So I was talking to my friends at Warner Music and they brought NBC involved and they said we'll all get together and come up with some way to make a difference so ...

KING: What did you do?

T. BLIXSETH: Well, I actually started thinking about what kind of theme we'd have so I woke up exactly 3:09 in the morning and there was Edra there so I got up and she wondered what are you doing at 3:00 in the morning so I started to play the piano and I called my cell phone to make sure I didn't forget the melody and I went back to sleep.

For two or three days we worked on it and I called Eric Benet (ph) at 5:00 in the morning and said get out of bed, we've got to finish - so we wrote the song.

KING: And that song is "Heart of America." Now what did you intend, Edra, to do with it?

EDRA BLIXSETH, BILLIONAIRE'S WIFE: Well, it was actually the idea Tim came up with, if there was a theme song that was kind of an anthem for people because nothing heals like music does for people so we were trying to come up with something that would maybe help unite everyone of - helping to give and whether they could give a dollar or a million dollars to get together and give and so that was the idea.

KING: Were you associated, too, with Habitat for Humanity?

T. BLIXSETH: We looked around and thought, what would be the very best source of immediate help and then what's the long term help? Well, there was a lot of money coming in for short term help but not much immediate at that time so we teamed up with Habitat, which was building these homes and all the money that's going in, with no admin taken out, which was very important to us, goes to build these homes.

KING: So how did you raise the money? What did you do with the song?

T. BLIXSETH: Well, we enlisted some very great singers. Michael Macdonald, Winona Judd and Eric Benet and they - for different reasons they said they couldn't do it but they decided they had to do it so we went into the studio, cut the record and that's when the - actually the ball started rolling and it became the theme for the "Today Show" on NBC.

KING: You hooked up with Habitat.

T. BLIXSETH: Habitat started building the houses and then we started getting donations. We started wringing people's arms and said, hey, whether it's a dollar, whether it's $5 million, you need to make a difference.

KING: And did the song play on NBC?

E. BLIXSETH: Yes. And actually we are going to do it live on the 18th, coming up, but it's been playing ever since we started this two weeks ago as the background when they show the Habitat thing.

KING: So it's set this next Wednesday night.


E. BLIXSETH: My dates are all mixed up.

KING: They're going to do it live from ... T. BLIXSETH: From Rockefeller Plaza.

KING: You going to be there?

T. BLIXSETH: Absolutely.

KING: How much money has Habitat raised?

T. BLIXSETH: It's well over $30 million right now.

KING: How did you fail as a songwriter?

T. BLIXSETH: Well, I'd like to think that maybe that the jury is still out.

KING: You're still writing songs? Do you still consider yourself a songwriter?

T. BLIXSETH: Absolutely. I'd rather have that title than the way you introduced me.

E. BLIXSETH: The only problem is it won't pay our bills, so.

KING: You were a very poor kid, right?

T. BLIXSETH: Welfare.

KING: Me too. Welfare.

Where did you grow up?

T. BLIXSETH: I grew up in Roseburg, Oregon.

KING: How did you make it?

T. BLIXSETH: One fingernail at a time. Lots of failures, lots of successes, but mostly successes.

KING: Was there a turning point?

E. BLIXSETH: When he married me.

T. BLIXSETH: That's probably a great answer. The turning point, I think, was when I really realized that you can do it yourself. That you have to believe in you because sometimes that's the only person that does believe in your success but you.

KING: What we're going to do when we close out the show, we're going to come back in a minute, talk a little more with Tim and Edra, an extraordinary couple and then play that song for you, which we hope will become our anthem. "Heart of America." We'll be right back.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up in just nine minutes, violence, looting and fires break out after neo-Nazis plan a march in Toledo, Ohio. Right now the city is under a curfew and the mayor has declared a state of emergency. I'm going to talk to him live in just a few minutes.

Also tonight they're counting the votes in Iraq after a surprisingly high turnout. Does this mean U.S. troops could come home sooner? Our reporters are all over Iraq and all over the story.

And we may have another hurricane headed our way. We're going to see you in just a few minutes at the top of the hour right after LARRY KING.


KING: OK. You're going to hear and see "The Heart of America" now featuring Eric Benet and Michael Macdonald and Winona Judd.

Now, where people can buy this?

T. BLIXSETH: It's coming out very shortly on Warner Brothers everywhere.

KING: And the proceeds will go to Habitat?

T. BLIXSETH: One hundred percent of the proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity.

KING: None of the artists make anything?

T. BLIXSETH: No one makes anything.

KING: And next Wednesday night NBC is going to have them on television?

T. BLIXSETH: It's actually ...

E. BLIXSETH: It's actually next Wednesday morning, the 19th.

KING: On the "Today Show"?

T. BLIXSETH: And they are going to sing at Madison Square Garden with Rod Stewart live the song on the same night. The 19th.

KING: You know, I've got a hunch. Of all the things you've done and all you've accomplished, this is one of the things you're proudest of?

T. BLIXSETH: I'd rather have been introduced as a songwriter than anything else in the world.

KING: All right then let's go back.

As we go to this, and this is going to play us out, news will be following but there's no appropriate way to follow this with words.

So, this is by songwriter and songwritress Tim and Edra Blixseth. Enjoy three great talents with great songwriting talents. They dabble in lumber. And enjoy our new anthem, they donated the first $2 million right away to raise $100 million they gave $2 million to Habitat for Humanity.

The song that came to him in the middle of the night is now yours. Watch and goodnight.



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