He famously dubbed himself the ‘Lord of the Philanderers’, but when Rod Stewart met model Rachel Hunter at a Los Angeles nightclub in 1990, all that changed in an instant.
Declaring that he had, “put my last banana in the fruit bowl,” Rod, then 45, was captivated by the New Zealand beauty who was yet to turn 21.
He recognised her from an advert for a fitness video and decided to make his opening gambit by recreating one of her moves on the dance floor – a move that elicited only a ‘sympathetic smile’ from Rachel.
“At least she didn’t turn away…” Rod wrote in his 2012 book, Rod: The Autobiography.
He continued: “Extraordinary to think that this less than promising start led to a romance that redefined the term ‘whirlwind’ and then to an eight-year-marriage that would eventually leave me as emotionally broken as I have ever been.”
Indeed, just five weeks later the smitten rocker popped the question and they were married in under three months, despite warnings from friends to take it more slowly.
But despite the almost 25 year age gap, the couple were head-over-heels in love, as became clear on their very first date.
“I persuaded her to have dinner with me, a meal during which we didn’t so much talk as gabble, covering a lot of ground in a big hurry,” he wrote. “Back at her hotel that night, we shared a bed for the first time.”
But knowing Rod’s reputation, a wily Rachel made it clear that sex was not on the cards by employing a cunning trick.
Rod recalled: “She wore a T-shirt that came down to her ankles – a T-shirt that said ‘Not tonight, thank you’ as efficiently as if she had come clanking out of the bathroom in a deep-sea diving outfit.”
Despite his disappointment, the star took it as a sign of better things to come. “Bit of a shame, of course,” he admitted, “but a sign that maybe we were at the beginning of something serious.”
It wasn’t until weeks later when Rod chartered a boat to the Bahamas that their romance was consummated.
The pair tied the knot on December 15, 1990 at the Presbyterian Church in Beverly Hills – where his sister Mary made a grave prediction, apparently telling the person she was sat next to: “That girl will break his heart one day.”
And in 1998, that exact thing happened when Rachel told him she wanted out of the marriage – which ended in divorce 14 years ago today.
About to turn 30 and with two children, according to Rod, Rachel was unhappy and felt like she needed to go and live her own life outside of the shadow of her husband’s.
Rod, 75, was devastated and was plunged into a deep heartbreak that would debilitate him for four long months.
He said: “I lost 12lb in weight. I felt cold all the time. I took to lying on the sofa in the day, with a blanket over me and holding a hot-water bottle against my chest. I knew then why they call it heartbroken: you can feel it in your heart. I was distracted, almost to the point of madness.”
In a desperate bid to cope, he turned to therapy and took up yoga before the dark cloud gradually lifted and he met his current wife, Penny Lancaster, a year later.
These days, Rod and Penny, 49, remain on good terms with Rachel, 51, and Rod’s first wife Alana, gathering to celebrate his daughter Kim’s 40th birthday last year.
Speaking about the situation on Lorraine today, Penny explained: “When I met Rod, I realised it wasn’t just us, it was the children, the ex-wives.
“I had to show that I was genuine, show kindness, and it works.”
Rod has two sons with Loose Women panelist Penny, who he married in 2007, called Alastair, 12, and Aiden, eight.
His first marriage was to Alana Hamilton, 74, which lasted from 1979 to 1984. They had model daughter Kimberley and son Sean, who is a musician.
The singer also has daughter Renée, now a dancer, and sonLiam Stewart, a professional ice hockey player, with Rachel.