In the early 1970s, Rod Stewart was releasing solo albums that were increasingly successful. At the same time, he also was a part of a group called the Faces. One of the members of the group was Ian McLagan, the keyboard player. Ian had a gay friend who was killed after he moved to New York City, and that incident later inspired Rod to write and record The Killing Of Georgie (Parts 1 & 2).
The song tells the story of a young gay man who is not accepted by his family and moves to New York City where he finds acceptance and an exciting lifestyle. Sadly, he is killed by a group of toughs who were probably out for a night of gay-bashing.
Rod recorded the song in 1976, but his record label initially refused to release the song as a single because of the subject matter. Eventually, they relented, and in the Summer of 1977, the record reached #30 in the US. The record did much better in Great Britain, reaching as high as #2 on their charts. The song clocks in at nearly seven minutes, so the record company split the song into two parts, putting the second half on the flip side of the single.
The subject matter of the song echoes Lou Reed’s A Walk on the Wild Side, and some of the background vocals even appear to be sampling the earlier single.
Being gay was still a challenge in the seventies and the song reportedly helped many young gay men feel more confident about their sexuality. It’s been reported that Boy George’s mother left him a copy of the single when he was fifteen to let him know she was aware of his feelings even though he had not yet come out.
The video that Rod shot for the song was surprising for its time (this was four years before MTV even existed). The video is simply Rod seemingly vogueing and posing long before either was mainstream.
A live performance in 2013 shows a more mature singer (who has to sit through most of the performance), but one who can still deliver both parts 1 and 2 of the song convincingly.