Rod Stewart, Decade by Decade #3 – “The Killing Of Georgie (Part I and II)”

Well, my planned post for this weekend has been gazumped, as for the last few days Rod Stewart’s The Killing Of Georgie has been playing on repeat in my cranium. Yes, for the  second week in a row I have been inspired by Rol’s Hot 100 Countdown series, where he chooses a song to represent a number, counting down from 100 to 1. Last week I wrote about Le Freak by Chic, as reference is made in the lyrics, to the famous Studio 54 Nightclub in New York City. This time I’ve decided to return to my Rod Stewart series, which was on hiatus, all because of another New York location, the junction of 53rd and 3rd. Back in the 1970s, this was a well-known spot for male prostitution (the Ramones even wrote a song about it called 53rd and 3rd), but I quickly remembered that it also appears in the lyrics of one of my favourite “story songs”, The Killing Of Georgie (Part I and II).

The sight of blood dispersed the gang
A crowd gathered, the police came
An ambulance screamed to a halt on Fifty-third and Third

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The junction of 53rd and 3rd

I started this series towards the end of last year, when Mr Stewart seemed to be omnipresent on telly and radio, promoting his 30th studio album “Blood Red Roses”. He has had such longevity in the music business, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit his body of work, decade by decade. Once I got half way through the ’70s however, I kind of lost my way, as so many of his long-term fans abandoned him, feeling he had sold out. He had changed record label, parted company with the Faces and moved whole-heartedly to LA (acquiring a Hollywood actress as a girlfriend on the way, in the form of Britt Ekland). In retrospect, I can see this was the case, but here’s the thing – In the mid ’70s I was still a teenage girl, lapping up all that TOTP, Radio 1 and the world of teen mags threw at me, and rarely a week went by without us being treated to one of Rod’s new single releases.

There is a trilogy of albums from that time I still own. He released the “Atlantic Crossing” album in 1975, “A Night On The Town” in 1976 and “Foot Loose & Fancy Free” in 1977. My favourite track from the album shown below was his cover of the Isley Brothers song This Old Heart of Mine. I have written often about how our teen idols were just substitutes for “real boys”, as we hadn’t quite got round to proper relationships yet, and wouldn’t do for quite some time. I think of my period of Rod Stewart fandom, as coinciding with the time we had moved on to “real boys” but in that really stupid, hormonally-induced, teenager-y way.

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My copy of Atlantic Crossing. The inner sleeve used to reside on my bedroom wall!

Most towns have them, that group of lads who seem to have an aura around them, who dress well, dance well and can have their pick of the girls. I ended up having a massive crush on a boy who looked just like the Rod who featured on the “Atlantic Crossing” inner sleeve. I pinned it to my bedroom wall, and cried as I listened to This Old Heart… , on repeat. Sometimes, if I was lucky, the boy asked me to dance. Sometimes he even walked me home, but looking back I was being utterly ridiculous – We had nothing in common, there was little conversation (just smooching), and I knew he would move on to another girl the following weekend. We haven’t changed much since Stone Age times I fear, and at a certain age we are still drawn to what we perceive as alpha males, who will in some way provide for us, and protect us from danger. As it turns out, most of these lads, who unlike us did not progress to any form of further or higher education, ended up doing pretty well for themselves, so the whole “aura” thing worked well for them.

But I have become side-tracked, as this post is supposed to be about The Killing Of Georgie (Part I and II). Now that I was actually taking heed of the lyrics in songs (which up until that point, not so much), I was blown away by the lyrics in what ended up being my favourite song from the album “A Night On The Town”. I am not going to include a video clip of Rod performing the song, as I think we can all agree, by this time he had turned into a parody of himself, wearing glam clothes, make-up and not really taking the performance seriously. After the release of Tonight’s The Night a new genre was even born, sex rock, although unbelievably, I was too naïve to pick up on all that back then.

Best to just listen to the audio I think.

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The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II) by Rod Stewart:

I have written about this song before, as part of my post about New York for my American Odyssey series (link here). As I said at the time:

New York has long been known for its flamboyant characters and Sting sang about one of them, eccentric gay icon Quentin Crisp, in his 1988 song Englishman In New York. Another “character” committed to song was when Rod Stewart wrote and recorded The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II) in 1976. This story song tells the tale of a young gay man who became successful and popular amongst Manhattan’s upper class – He was “the toast of the Great White Way”, which is the nickname given to the Theatre District of Midtown Manhattan. Georgie attends the opening night of a Broadway musical, but leaves “before the final curtain call” and heads across town. He is attacked on 53rd and 3rd by a gang of thieves, and one inadvertently kills him. The song was apparently based on a true story about a friend of Rod’s old band The Faces. The song combines the melancholy and sombre Part II (incidentally employing a melody identical to the Beatles’ Don’t Let Me Down) with the more popular Part I.

Before I go, a bit of an embarrassing exposé of something else from Alyson’s Archive (my box of teenage memorabilia). When “Foot Loose & Fancy Free” was released, one of the songs on it really summed up what I have been trying to recount above. I took to “pouring my heart out”, not in song, but in my 1978 diary. Yes, those boys with the aura, had a lot to answer for. I give you my hand-written lyrics to I Was Only Joking from January 1978. I laugh when I read the heading now, as to be honest, there never was a “relationship”, it was all in my head!

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I Was Only Joking by Rod Stewart:

Rod gets a lot of flak for that late ’70s phase of his career, but the two featured songs here show he was a master story-teller. I Was Only Joking is a tale of regret and of the care-free minds of the young. As such, it has become one of Stewart’s best loved songs and it contains one of the best guitar solos in classic rock. Rod co-wrote it with guitarist Gary Grainger. The Susie alluded to in the song was Susannah Boffey, who met Rod in 1961 when she was a 17-year-old art student. In 1963 she gave birth to a daughter, who was fostered out and eventually adopted by a wealthy couple. In 2010 however, Sarah Streeter was finally admitted to her father’s family.

Enough confessionals for today, and time to move onto another theme I think for next week or else Rol will think I’m being a bit weird, stalking his blog for ideas. Plenty more ideas out there, just sadly not always enough time for them all.

Until next week…

The Killing Of Georgie (Part I And II)
(Song by Rod Stewart)

In these days of changing ways
So called liberated days
A story comes to mind of a friend of mine

Georgie boy was gay I guess
Nothin’ more or nothin’ less
The kindest guy I ever knew

His mother’s tears fell in vain
The afternoon George tried to explain
That he needed love like all the rest

Pa said there must be a mistake
How can my son not be straight
After all I’ve said and done for him

Leavin’ home on a Greyhound bus
Cast out by the ones he loves
A victim of these gay days it seems

Georgie went to New York town
Where he quickly settled down
And soon became the toast of the great white way

Accepted by Manhattan’s elite
In all the places that were chic
No party was complete without George

Along the boulevards he’d cruise
And all the old queens blew a fuse
Everybody loved Georgie boy

The last time I saw George alive
Was in the summer of seventy-five
He said he was in love I said I’m pleased

George attended the opening night
Of another Broadway hype
But split before the final curtain fell

Deciding to take a short cut home
Arm in arm they meant no wrong
A gentle breeze blew down Fifth Avenue

Out of a darkened side street came
A New Jersey gang with just one aim
To roll some innocent passer-by

There ensued a fearful fight
Screams rang out in the night
Georgie’s head hit a sidewalk cornerstone

A leather kid, a switchblade knife
He did not intend to take his life
He just pushed his luck a little too far that night

The sight of blood dispersed the gang
A crowd gathered, the police came
An ambulance screamed to a halt on Fifty-third and Third

Georgie’s life ended there
But I ask who really cares
George once said to me and I quote

He said “Never wait or hesitate
Get in kid, before it’s too late
You may never get another chance

‘Cos youth’s a mask but it don’t last
Live it long and live it fast”
Georgie was a friend of mine

Oh Georgie stay, don’t go away
Georgie please stay you take our breath away
Oh Georgie stay, don’t go away
Georgie please stay you take our breath away
Oh Georgie stay, don’t go away
Georgie, Georgie please stay you take our breath away
Oh Georgie stay

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

16 thoughts on “Rod Stewart, Decade by Decade #3 – “The Killing Of Georgie (Part I and II)””

    1. Lovely to have you drop by Bea – Yes I certainly am, and this is me now entering a 4th year of beavering away on my blog. We both decided last week that we were perhaps a bit “lazy”, but anyone else looking in at our lives would think otherwise I’m sure. For me however, blogging has rarely felt like a chore, so easy to keep going.

      Looking forward to your next post.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I honestly can’t remember, Alyson, what I’ve chipped in before on your previous Rod Blogs (sounds like an east London plumber).
    Suffice it to say I love Rod. I may not always show it – but he is, and will continue to be I’m sure, the most enduring ROCK STAR of our lifetime.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there – I’ve looked back and yes you did leave a comment on the previous two posts, one mentioned the 1993 Unplugged set (when I started to enjoy his output again) and the other your love for the Python Lee Jackson song In A Broken Dream. Think you covered both of those things in your own post. Btw, if you have another look at my own post, I share a picture of my Arcade Hits of the Year album which included a picture of PLJ – Caused much confusion at the time!
      https://jukeboxtimemachine.com/2018/02/03/the-sweet-blockbuster-focus-and-hocus-pocus/

      He does seem to be one of those singers who was thought to have “lost it” along the way, but to have kept going all these years and to be still doing it at 74 is quite remarkable. The leggy blondes and train sets have kept him on track it seems (no pun intended).

      I imagine the fact he left Britain when his earnings put him over the 98% tax threshold irked a lot of people, but he wasn’t alone was he. He does seem to be of the right-wing persuasion politically speaking though, and not many in the music business seem to have those leanings (at least not many of the ones we write about here). I think I can forgive him though – He’s had many wives and 7 kids to support, who all seem to adore him, so he can’t have gone far wrong.

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  2. Your post makes me want to explore Rod Stewart’s peak. I didn’t know he was with Britt Ekland in the 70s. To me, she is one of the most beautiful Bond girls so I’m not surprised he fell for her!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He had a commercially successful peak and a peak in terms of critical acclaim – It would be interesting to see which one you prefer as a youngster who wasn’t around at the time.

      Oh yes, Miss Goodnight, one of the loveliest Bond girls ever.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Alyson. Another great write-up and fantastic song choice. My first exposure to Rod Stewart’s music was the ubiquitous “Tonight’s The Night” when I was 10 years old. I absolutely loved it, although I didn’t get that album until a couple of years later. It’s still my favorite of his solo albums, and “The Killing Of Georgie…” has long been among my top Rod songs. Here in the U.S. he didn’t start getting flak until “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” so he was still considered cool throughout ’77 & ’78. I still enjoyed his music into the early ’80s even though much of that doesn’t hold up as well as his ’60s & ’70s recordings. I always hold out hope that he’ll deliver another classic one day, but hopes grow dimmer with each passing year (and each collection of the “great American songbook”). By the way, nice job linking the song to the numbers theme via the lyrics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to see you are back to finding time for some blogging and visiting the other blogs. Hope this means things have settled down a bit.

      I had a look back at your FYF post about the album Foot Loose & Fancy Free and it seems we are on the same page about Rod’s output around then. It was when I read your post, and watched the I Was Only Joking clip, that I decided I would have to seek out that old diary at some point, and write about my love for the song. Georgie though was what this post was all about and I have been looking at the lyrics this afternoon – A story told in 18 verses and I like how he usually gets the first 2 lines to rhyme. Gives it a rhythm and despite being a desperately sad tale, it has uplifting moments in it too. I find it funny you were so besotted by Tonight’s The Night at age 10 – Did your parents know what you were listening to? I remember when I first played Donna Summer’s Love To Love You Baby on the family “music centre” – There were a few raised eyebrows!

      Yes, I stopped at 1977 as I wasn’t a fan of what came after. In fact I’m going to be a bit stumped if I carry on with this series as not much can compare with the periods I have covered so far. The Unplugged sessions in 1993 and perhaps some of material from his newer albums. I did like the song Brighton Beach from his 2013 album Time.

      Thanks for dropping by – You posted a good ‘un this weekend over at your place. If you want to play the Hot 100 Countdown I think you just have to be logged into Google.

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      1. Thanks, Alyson. Things are somewhat more settled. Free time is still a rare commodity as there’s always a number of important tasks on the never-ending to-do list. I made it a point to spend more time in 2019 on fun things since I pretty much put them on hold last year.

        My friends & I used to laugh at a credit on one of Rod’s albums that stated something like, “All songs written or selected by Rod Stewart,” which seemed like a half-assed way of taking credit for all songs on that album. For a while I assumed Rod was just the voice and he let his musicians handle songwriting, but clearly Rod had a lot more talent than that. “The Killing Of Georgie…” is just one example.

        I think you could take this series at least into the ’80s since he had some winners, especially in the first half of the decade. His version of “People Get Ready” with Jeff Beck is a keeper, and songs like “Passion,” “Young Turks” and “Infatuation” (along with other tracks from those albums) hold up pretty well 30+ years later, even if you have to get through the production choices of the era.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree that ‘The Killing Of Georgie’ is a top song, whatever I might think of the latter-day Rod and his musical output. There was some great footage of him performing it, I think it was from a ToTP, on some programme we were watching not that long back (which probably means it was about 5 years ago!) and I was totally reeled in.
    I love your reference to those early interactions with boys… “..little conversation (just smooching)” and I know exactly what you mean. My memories of those moments are full of that disconnection. The journey to simply finding someone you could truly click with could be a bumpy ride, and for all its teenage thrills I wouldn’t want to go through it again! (And as ever, I enjoy these little peeks at your teenage diaries.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – Thanks for dropping by C, as I was a tad embarrassed about having shared all that teenage angst stuff (and the diary) but knew you would appreciate it. The chaps have conveninetly skipped over it, which is fine – I wonder if any of them belonged to a little gang that had an “aura”. Not many boys have that swagger and confidence as teenagers, but Rod obviously did, and the ones I knew back in the day certainly did. Must stand you in good stead for later life as they have indeed done VERY well for themselves. With our clutch of academic qualifications, we used to laugh at some of the things they came out with, but I suspect they have had the last laugh. All so long ago. Cross fingers they never stumble across this little corner of the blogosphere or I might be in trouble!

      Killing of Georgie is an amazingly poignant song – Think I’m going to have to stick at this post for the series as I’m not going to come up with anything better.

      Like

  5. He was pretty brave to come up with this in these less enlightened times. Certainly risked alienating a certain section of his fan base.
    It’s a great song.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose he was which is quite bizarre now considering how things have changed. The song was about a friend of the Faces so a personal tribute really, about someone they knew.

      It’s ironic though isn’t it how our Saturday Night schedules back then were full of characters like Danny LaRue, Mr Humphries (Are You Being Served) and Larry Grayson but they were indeed seen as light-hearted “entertainment characters” and not somehow real.

      Yes, it is a great song.

      Like

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