Home » Jools Holland ‘can’t believe’ he’s scored his first number one, with help from Rod Stewart

Jools Holland ‘can’t believe’ he’s scored his first number one, with help from Rod Stewart

By Colin Paterson,Entertainment correspondent

Official Charts Company Sir Rod Stewart and Jools Holland holding their number one chart trophyOfficial Charts Company

Sir Rod Stewart and Jools Holland with their Official Number 1 Album Award

Jools Holland has said scoring his first UK number one album “means more to me than anything I’ve ever had”.

The 66-year-old piano player and TV presenter teamed up with Sir Rod Stewart to make Swing Fever, an album of songs from the big band era.

The chart success comes 50 years to the month after the formation of Holland’s first band, Squeeze.

Speaking to BBC News, he joked: “I think the last big band record that was number one was probably in 1946.”

Sir Rod admitted that he started the celebrations on Thursday, the night before the chart was officially announced, after playing at a Prince’s Trust dinner.

“I stayed at the event and had continual Martinis until one o’clock in the morning with the three girls in my band,” the 79-year-old told BBC News. “It was lovely.”

Alastair Fyfe/The Prince's Trust/PA Media Jools Holland and Rod Stewart performing at the Prince's Trust Invest in Futures Gala Dinner at The Peninsula LondonAlastair Fyfe/The Prince’s Trust/PA Media

The pair performed at the Prince’s Trust Invest in Futures Gala Dinner in London on Thursday

Fifty years later… with Jools

It is clear just how much having a number one album means to Holland after five decades of trying. “I shall be celebrating tonight. I will be overdoing it. I can’t believe it. It can’t be happening to me,” he says.

His previous highest album chart placing came in 1982 when a Squeeze compilation, including hits like Cool For Cats and Up the Junction, reached number three, kept off the top spot by Phil Collins and The Kids From Fame.

Explaining why he was so moved by Friday’s news, he said: “As my life has gone on, particularly playing a lot of swing music, it’s not the mainstream music. So for me, the idea that you would have a huge hit with this had gone years ago. That’s why this does mean more to me.

“That’s why it’s so wonderful that Rod has shone the light on this type of music. None of it would have been possible without Rod thinking of it and then bringing his amazing vocals.”

Luxury cars and model trains

Sir Rod had his first number one album in September 1971, when Every Picture Tells a Story knocked Deep Purple’s Fireball from the top of the charts, and he remembers exactly where he was when he found out.

“I was driving along in my nice Bentley. I was driving down St John’s Wood and it came on the radio in the afternoon that the album was number one and also number one in America.

“I drove around and went all the way back to my mum and dad’s house, gave them a big hug and we all had a cry together. So I remember it like it was yesterday.”

Along with their passion for swing music, he and Holland bonded over a love of model railways.

Sir Rod’s face lights up when the subject is brought up. “There’s not many places you can go, especially in the music world, and talk about model railroads for a few hours and send each other pictures.”

“What Rod hasn’t said there,” picks up Holland, “is that we do speak for several hours and exchange pictures about details, because it’s a study of landscape and architecture.”

The discussions to plan their musical collaboration were quicker and simpler. “When it came to talking about the record, I would say we’d probably spent 10, 15 maybe 20 minutes.

“I’d say, ‘What about this song?’ and he’d say, ‘Great’, and that would be it. Not much of a discussion. We’d just go and record it. Railways we’d take the time over.”

Potholes and politicians

Classic cars are another shared love. Holland’s collection has included a 1958 Chevrolet Corvette and a 1968 Jaguar E-type, while Sir Rod was so determined to protect his vehicles that he famously started to personally fill in potholes near his house in Essex.

“I’ve not done any since last year,” he says. “But the potholes are back because the council uses cheap materials.

“I was driving my Lamborghini, and we just sank into a hole. And what was worse, a couple of hours later, an ambulance got caught in that same pothole and couldn’t move, and the lights were flashing, so there was someone inside in distress.

“So I got all the lads, all the gardeners, and filled it up. It’s what you do when you are a knight of the realm,” he laughs.

There is something that annoys him even more at the moment, though: “Politicians who can’t say ‘No’ or ‘Yes’. They all stink.”

He will be closely following the forthcoming general election. “I think Labour certainly deserve a go at it now. I wish there was a third party that could get involved. I’ve forgotten their name. The Liberal Green something or other,” he says mischievously.

As for the music, they both have their own tours planned for this year, but are hoping to work together again.

“We might try and come back together in November and do some shows somewhere,” explains Holland.

“Because with Rod it is the dream. We did this little show in this club called Pryzm in Kingston. This music is swing music, but it’s not like you’d imagine a Frank Sinatra show. It was like a Faces gig or a Squeeze gig. It was like punk almost. Oi! Oi! It’s exciting, and that’s why I love it. It’s bit more aggressive. It’s not easy listening.”

David Bowie: “Bless David. He was a good mate of mine. Influencer. Nothing but respect. Thank you David.”

Taylor Swift: “She will go on forever. Tremendous talent. Great looking girl. She’s an industry all by herself.”

U2: “Great company to be in. I wonder if any of these three acts will have a number one when they are 79?”

The mention of U2 gives Jools the chance to tell the perfect final story.

“This is my big reflection on today, as a man who had never had a number one. Squeeze played a gig with U2, a double header at the Hope and Anchor in Islington, I think in 1978.

“There were six people in the audience, who all left after the first show. The only audience was really us for each other.

“One man stayed with his dog. But you still do your best. And then the man left and the dog was there. And after a bit, the dog left.

“It made you wonder if it was worth carrying on in showbiz. Are we doing the right thing in music here?

“But it turned out it was. And so here I am 50 years later with a number one album.”

Rod hoots with laughter: “You deserve it, my man. I’m going to give you a round of applause.”

With that, they both depart to celebrate some more and talk model railways.