Reach Out And Touch Rod Stewart

Drummer and co-writer Carmine Appice reflects on the afterlife of "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" in Forgotten Videos
  • Carmine Appice and Rod Stewart in "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"
May 16, 2012 -- 12:46 pm PDT
By Tammy La Gorce / GRAMMY.com

Welcome to Forgotten Videos. For some, these videos are forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week we'll feature a video that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or vice-versa. … We're not here to judge, we just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.

Rod Stewart
"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"
1978

In the video for Rod Stewart's No. 1 hit "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" a model-pretty blonde, wearing excessive lip gloss, sits alone at a bar, sipping a cocktail. Enter Stewart — cool, spike-haired, bedroom-eyed, and sheathed entirely in shiny black — who approaches, gazes into her eyes and takes her home.

While Rod the Mod's social skills may be sharper than most, the video is essentially a visual extension of the classic bar scene pickup, from the "she sits alone" intro to the morning after when the two strangers wake only to find they are out of milk and coffee.

Carmine Appice, co-writer of the song and the drummer on the track, has a big presence in the video, not only rocking during the performance scenes but also in the bar, where he's in the foreground entertaining a couple of his own prospects.



"The video was a really big production for its time," says Appice. "I think we might have gone to an actual pub in L.A. for the pub scene, and then we had to put the set for the bedroom scene together. Rod had the cameras way up high, shooting down. He had to have good ceiling height. And we were just making it to show on ['70s music TV show] 'The Midnight Special.' This was all in the days before MTV."

It was also in the days before anyone knew what a smash the song would become. In addition to scoring the pole position on multiple charts internationally, "Da Ya …" landed at No. 308 on Rolling Stone's 2004 list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. (The song also has the dubious distinction of being covered by Paris Hilton.)

"You'll see when we're onstage it's sometimes out of sync, or Rod has his back to the camera and is ad-libbing," says Appice. "That was because we didn't know how huge this thing was going to get, and we sort of rushed through it."

Rushing aside, the low-budget feel of the video is also part of its charm. "Rod always had this crazy humor going on, even back when we he was in Faces," says Appice. "When he was doing the scene with the chick in the bedroom, we all busted his chops — 'How was it, man?' We had a lot of fun together."

In recent years, Stewart has made the successful transformation to interpreter of the Great American Songbook, far away from the disco-rock flair of "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" The afterlife of the song itself still mystifies Appice, however. 

"I always thought it would be in a commercial, like for a car or something sexy," says Appice. "Instead it's only been used for a Chips Ahoy! chocolate chip cookie commercial. I love Chips Ahoy! But I'm pretty surprised by that."

Da ya think cookies are sexy? Leave us a comment.

(Tammy La Gorce is a freelance writer whose work appears regularly in The New York Times, and on All Music Guide and Amazon.com.)

Email Newsletter