Not many people would thank god for a larger than normal nose and describe themselves as blessed for it, but for Rod Stewart impersonator Rob Caudill his unique look is his bread and butter.
“God really blessed me with a big nose, big hair and big voice,” Caudill admits unreservedly.
Ever since Caudill was 17 years-old, people have mistaken him for the well-known British singer-songwriter Rod Stewart.
“People come up to me and say ‘Oh, you’re Rod Stewart’, which happens every day of my life,” Caudill says.
“So once, after getting annoyed, I cut all my hair off, but then they would say, ‘Man, you look like Sean Penn’. That’s what happens when you have a big nose.
“Once I was in Chicago airport and this lady came up to me and said, ‘My kids are huge fans of yours, would you sign this? They are too shy to ask you.’ So I told her I’m not Rod Stewart, and she said, ‘Would you sign it anyway? I don’t want to hurt their feelings.’ So I signed it with my name, Rob.”
After persistent advice from American musician Joe Walsh to pick up the impersonation act and following a trip to Las Vegas in the ‘90s, Caudill exploited his musical talent and ‘Stewart-esque’ looks for a career in impersonation.
“I thought impersonation sounded like the cheesiest thing I had ever heard of. But after I saw an impersonation show in Vegas and found out how much money they were making compared to how much I was making, I was like, it’s a no-brainer really,” Caudill says.
That was more than 15 years ago and last week Caudill delivered his stellar doppelganger performance at a Tribute to the Stars concert at NagaWorld in Phnom Penh.
Caudill graced the NagaWorld stage in true Stewart style. His natural, distinct American accent was transformed to a British tinker’s tone. He fearlessly spun his microphone pole full circle above his head, and he kicked about 10 blow-up plastic footballs into the crowd of Stewart fans.
Caudill says he is able to master Rod Stewart’s stage presence, by studying Stewart’s mannerisms from recorded concerts.
“In the beginning I watched a lot of videos to pick up his style. But now when I go on stage it just clicks automatically. I just naturally get into the Rod Stewart character,” he says.
His vocals, luckily enough, are a natural husk like Stewart’s. “When I used to sing, I tried not to sing like him because my voice is just naturally raspy and big like his.”
As for manicuring his look, Caudill says, “For me it’s just luck of the draw. I have to keep my hair the right length and put blonde highlights through it. I’m starting to get a creeping grey streaking through it but I just thank god that I still got hair. A lot of impersonators have to wear wigs and piles of make-up to look like their acts.”
While Stewart and his doppelganger equally push on in years, neither of them seem close to calling it quits on a career that has taken them separately around the world.
While Stewart shoots off in the New Year to perform in Australia, Caudill admits, without making any promises, he would love to return to Phnom Penh and perform for all the Rod Stewart fans that missed out on his dynamic performance this time.
“It’s been a really fun ride here in Cambodia. You never really know what to expect. There is a very kind spirit here.”
But until his return, the star, in his own right, will soldier on in a true Rod Stewart fashion.
“I’m just going to keep on rocking and rolling so long as this old voice and old body holds up, just like Rod’s doing – so it’s up to Rod. Mind you Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra are both dead and their impersonators are both making a killing. I’m only joking.”