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Rod Stewart stole the lyrics and melody for ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’

In a recent interview, Rod Stewart straight-up confessed to “nicking” the lyrics and melody for his 1978 hit, Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.

In a new interview with Nile Rogers from Apple Music’s Deep Hidden Meaning Radio, the legendary Rod Stewart candidly admitted to straight-up stealing the words and melody for his iconic track, Do Ya Think I’m Sexy, from a similar-sounding tune he heard at Rio Carnival.

“I was in Brazil for the festival, and I heard this song and I just, I nicked it,” he said.

Rod stewart singing
Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Released in 1978 as part of his ninth studio album, Blondes Have More Fun, the reportedly-stolen smash hit accelerated to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1979, and claimed that spot for four consecutive weeks.

Now, over 40 years down the track, the English icon has finally revealed what really went down during the making of this critically-acclaimed song.

“Subconsciously I came back in the studio and started singing it and put words to it about six months later,” explained Stewart. “But I put my hand up and I said, ‘Fair nick, I’m guilty.’ And all the proceeds actually went to UNICEF.”

Rogers replied, “No kidding!” before Stewart said, “the writer of the song agreed. Yeah!’ 

rod stewart press
Credit: The Big Issue

This ever-so-casual confession happened in the midst of a frank discussion about songwriting and plagiarism, during which the pair expressed their views on what should be considered theft, and what should be considered creative adaptation. After his admission of guilt, Rod asked Nile: “Have you ever been done for plagiarism when you’ve nicked someone’s songs?”

Nile responded: “to me, that’s just songwriting. Quite often I’ve said on this show that I believe it was Verdi who said good composers borrow and great composers steal.”

He continued, “we can’t help that. We listen to music. Just like you just said with ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.’ You listen to music, you hear the song, you hear the motif, you hear the riff, and it gets stuck in your head and you say, ‘that’s cool. This is what I would do with it.’ That is songwriting.”

Rod snapped back, “that’s called plagiarism! It’s plagiarism, no matter which way you look at it.”

Rod Stewart studio
Credit: In The Studio with Redbeard

Well, it’s nice to see that Rod Stewart does have a solid understanding of what classifies as plagiarism. Despite the cheeky act, the legendary hitmaker was at least honest about his actions with the original songwriter. To top it all off, they both agreed to donate all the proceeds from the track to the incredible humanitarian and children’s aid organisation, UNICEF. And of course, we can’t be mad about that!

So all in all, compared to the intense disputes surrounding more recent plagiarism cases, this one seems to have sorted itself out. Well done for fessing up, Rod!