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Da Ya Think I'm Sexy by Rod Stewart

Album: Blondes Have More FunReleased: 1978Charted:
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  • Stewart was known for his soulful Blues and folk ballads, but this song was a Disco departure, and it gave him a new look. He attracted many new fans, but alienated many of his old ones, who had no interest in Disco and fondly remembered Rod as a member of The Faces, where he earned a reputation as hard-rocking party animal. Reflecting on the song in the May, 1995 issue of Mojo magazine, Stewart said: "I think it's one of those songs that everyone can remember what they were doing in that particular year. It was one of the 10 songs that summed up that whole dance/disco period. And that's what music's about surely, to bring back memories."

    Reflecting in Esquire in 2012, he said: "I used to be embarrassed to sing 'Da Ya Think I'm Sexy,' but people love it. So it's in the show."
  • Most of the music for this song was written by drummer Carmine Appice, who had recently joined Stewart's band. Appice told us: "We were in the studio and 'Miss You' by The Rolling Stones was a big hit. Rod was always a guy that used to listen to what was going on around him. He was always looking at the charts and listening. He was a big fan of The Rolling Stones, so when they came out with Miss You, Disco was really big at the time, so he wanted to do some kind of Disco-y song, something like 'Miss You,' nothing like Gloria Gaynor. With the band, he would always tell us, 'I want a song like this' or 'I want a song like that,' so I went home and I came up with a bunch or chords and a melody. I presented it to him via a friend of mine, Duane Hitchings, who is a songwriter who had a little studio. We went in his studio with his drum machines and his keyboards, and he made my chords sound better. We gave Rod a demo of the verses and the bridge, and Rod came up with the chorus. We played it with the band many, many ways before we got the correct arrangement with Tom Dowd. Unfortunately, they put so much stuff on it that it dwarfed the sound of the band. It made the band sound smaller because it had strings and 2 or 3 keyboard players, congas, and drums. When we were doing it, we thought it was going to be more like The Rolling Stones with just the band playing it. It came out and went to #1 everywhere."
  • The distinctive riff came from an instrumental song called "Taj Mahal" by a Brazilian musician named Jorge Ben. When Ben filed suit, Stewart agreed to give proceeds from the song to UNICEF. He later recalled in his book, Rod: The Autobiography: "I held my hand up straight away. Not that I'd stood in the studio and said, 'Here, I know we'll use that tune from Taj Mahal as the chorus. The writer lives in Brazil, so he'll never find out.' Clearly the melody had lodged itself in my memory and then resurfaced. Unconscious plagiarism, plain and simple."

    There is a Blues guitarist named Taj Mahal who made his own version of the song using this same riff. The title, and also the only lyrics in the song, is "Jorge Ben."
  • Co-writer Carmine Appice explained: "If you look at the lyrics, it was a story. Rod told stories in his songs: 'The Killing Of Georgie' was a story, 'Tonight's The Night' was a story. Any of his songs are like little mini-stories. This was a story of a guy meeting a chick in a club. At that time, that was a cool saying. If you listen to the lyrics, 'She sits alone, waiting for suggestions, he's so nervous...' it's the feelings of what was going on in a dance club. The guy sees a chick he digs, she's nervous and he's nervous and she's alone and doesn't know what's going on, then they end up at his place having sex, and then she's gone." (Thanks to Carmine for speaking with us about this song. His website is carmineappice.net.)
  • Stewart claims this song is not about him, as it is sung in the third person.
  • Stewart used the title as the name of his 1978 tour. He would wear tight spandex and gyrate on stage. When he sang the title line, hoards of women would scream back, "Yes!"
  • This went along with the Hollywood lifestyle Stewart had adopted. He moved from England to Los Angeles in 1975 and quickly fit in with the glamorous crowd. Dating blonde models was his specialty.
  • This was promoted by an unusual "video-within-a-video." It showed people watching him perform this on a "television screen." The concert footage was taped first - whenever Stewart forgot the lyrics, he'd turn his face away from the camera. (thanks, Brad Wind - Miami, FL)
  • Stewart was ahead of his time from a marketing standpoint. Not only did he make a video for this before MTV was even a glimmer, but he also released a limited edition 12" version, which was guaranteed to be a collector's item because only 300,000 were made. The album was also released as a limited edition picture disc, which contained graphics printed directly on the vinyl as well as a cardboard pull-out of Stewart's face. 100,000 copies were pressed.
  • A Chicago disc jockey named Steve Dahl released a parody of this called "Do You Think I'm Disco" which became a weapon in the war to rid the world of Disco. Disco Demolition Night took place at Comiskey Park in Chicago on July 12, 1979. Between games of a doubleheader between the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers, radio personality Steve Dahl blew up a box of Disco records in the outfield. Fans were given reduced admission for bringing unwanted Disco records to the game, resulting in a huge crowd that was there for the mayhem rather than the baseball. Chaos ensued as the crowd rushed the field, tearing up the grass and making the second game unplayable.
  • Paris Hilton recorded this in 2006 on her first album.
  • This was used in an animated TV commercial for Chips Ahoy! where a cartoon cookie sings.
  • The string line came from the Bobby Womack song "If You Want My Love, Put Something Down On It." Said Stewart: "I told Bobby and he thought that was real cute - 'cos you can nick string lines without breaching copyright."
  • Stewart was slagged by critics for the song's provocative lyrics and for a promotional drive featuring him in a skin-tight Spandex outfit. He writes in his book, Rod: The Autobiography, "Music critics... wrote off 'Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?' as the work of a terrible show-off. It was only a pop record, but you'd have thought I'd poisoned the water supply... It didn't help that the marketing campaign for the single had me stretched out in full Spandex-clad glory beneath the slogan 'Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?'"
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Comments: 32

The truth is, it doesn't matter what anybody here has to say... this was a MASSIVE hit (still is). Rod is a great frontman and under-rated writer, and this song just captured the times, especially LA/Manhattan at the end of the 70's. Anyone remember the UNICEF Concert?Greg - New York City, Ny
The Stones got away with "Miss You". It's not much different from "Do ya think I'm sexy." What made it more than a novelty was Carmine Appice
kicked ass on the drums. Especially when the song goes to fade.
Michael - Illinois, Il
Rod Stewart is the master of re-inventing himself and the scope of his audience appeal over the life of his career. He keeps himself relevant by tapping into whatever is going on at the time. He is a true artist and this is a good example of how his songs are much more than just songs. They tell a story and mile mark what is happening in pop culture at the time. Love him and this song!Laura - El Paso, Tx
The Wikipedia article on this song (under the correct name "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?") displays the UK single picture sleeve, which shows a date of November 1978 in the lower right corner. I don't know the US release date, but it is first listed on the Billboard Hot 100 for December 23, 1978 at position #40. I have a copy of the US picture sleeve (I rather like the song), but I don't see anything on it that would pin down the release date.John - Anaheim, Ca
Please tell me when this song came out. I am a writer and I want to put it in my book as being played on the radio around Christmas '78.Zeech - West Palm Beach, Fl
Errrrr sorry but you're wrong about him not performing it live. I've seen him 20+ times over the last 30 years and he has ALWAYS done it. Last saw him at the end of June 2010 in London and DYTIS was there and huge as always. The crowd go absolutely crazy for it. He sings it and knows he is taking the micky ... but the answer to the question is very firmly YES!!!!!!Kim - Hawkhurst, United Kingdom
Great song by an amazing artist.Scott - Honolulu, Hi
heart beating like a drum, yeah thats how I feel when I hear this songJoann - Portsmouth, Va
Listening to Bobby Womack's "If You Want My Love, Put Something Down On It" from the 1975 album "I don't know what the world is coming to" couldn't help but notice the string motif was familiar... Immediately thought of checking out "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" (1978) to realize the riff is almost entirely lifted off of this album, released three years earlier... Hmmm...James - Montreal, Qc
This song is an absolute classic. It represents the day Disco jumped the shark.Mrcleaveland - Cleveland,
Duane Hitchings also was co-writer !! Why do I know ? I am Duane Hitchings !! LOL !! The credits got messed up plus a few other glitches - long story. Trust me, I am getting paid. Neither Rod nor I or I think Carmine was to crazy about Sexy --- but it went ballastic ! And yes, Rod was making a statement about the cocaine cowboys and their gold chains in the 70s. Conclusion, if many poeple likes the song, we did our job. That is our job - trying to make people happy !Duane Hitchings - Hendersonville, Tn, Tn
This song is so ridiculously bad, that it's actually good.Jeff - Austin, Tx
On Alice!, Alice and Mel Sharple's Mom was singing this at Lenny's house of Veal and they did great! On So I married an Ax Murderer the dad kept sing it over and over. I love this song!Jennifer Harris - Grand Blanc, Mi
He stopped performing this song in concert LONG before 2005. I think he quit singing it sometime in the mid-80s. I saw him in 93 or so (the Unplugged and Seated tour) and he sang about 30 seconds of it, stopped the band and said something along the lines of, "Nope. Not gonna do that one!" Then he went into a real song.
Never been a big fan of this one. I always thought that "Passion" was better...and it wasn't all that great, really.
Mark - Austin, Tx
I hate this song by Rod Stewart. I'm shocked that they stole the riff from Jorge Ben from his 1972 song, Taj Mahal, and then said they gave the proceeds to UNICEF! yeah right they did. I just hope that Jorge Ben got his fair share from the international success from this song.Dave - London, England
I HATE this song.Jude - Ashland, Oh
Rod Wears it well (meaning) his age,His talent, His life, and his Music. ughhh, come on we all get older, but he wears it well.Mike - Clarksville, Tn
I actually like this song. Rod Stewart has a great voice but he hasn't always had the best song material to work with.Mike - Hueytown , Al
Paul - the 1990s cover version was actually by N-Trance, not N-Sync, and it suckedDave - Cardiff, Wales
Ever hear "Sugar Sugar" by the Archies? 1970 or so? These are also the first words of DYTIS. I could name a few other songs with similarities. Now Rod's a musician, and the subconscious being what it is, why wouldn't there be similarities in music? It's a form of art; Stewart isn't necessarily a hack. If you listen to "Blondes Have More Fun" (the entire album), you will see a broad range of musical styles, and this, I think, makes the album one of the best of the Seventies. DYTIS and songs like it were part of that era. Hey, I was just a kid, and I didn't like disco, but I sure dug this one, as well as the entire album--appreciating it more and more as time goes by.J.d. - Tampa, Fl
No-one ever mentions the fact that Rod and Jagger went to the Sao Paulo music festival in 77, which is where they heard Taj Mahal by Jorge....so then Carmine must have just picked up on the vibe in the studio, huh ? What total bogue-ness.Dj - London, England
I dont care what anyone says about this song, it might be bad but Rod stewart is the man!!!!!Brittany - Richmond, Ky
In a 2005 interviews, Rod Stewart said that he no longer performs this song in concert, saying it would be a bit "silly" for a man of his age to be asking that!Ken - Louisville, Ky
The late and great Kenny Everett once did a wonderful parody of this on the BBC when he dressed up as Rod and performed the song but with an expanding arse that floated him up to the ceiling. Hilarious fun! N-Sync also did a rap cover version of the song in the 1990's which was rather catchy.Paul - Worcs, England
I vaguely recall reading many many years ago an interview of, or quotation attributed to, Rod Stewart suggesting that he was sorry for having recorded this song and this kind of music. I think he blamed a European (Dutch?) model for having influenced him in this direction. Does anyone else recall reading something like this?

I also remember watching a CBS "60 minutes" segment in fall of 1980 on the craze the song inspired among the costume/bikini clad roller skaters on Venice Beach, California. Anyone else remember that?
T. - Lahore, Pakistan
hmmm, number 1 in the uk and the us, rare.Charlie - Thomaston, Ct
I can't stand the song. Someone said (and of course I don't believe it) that some GUY (?)wrote it to Stewart.John - Seattle, Wa
Rod has a concert here in New Orleans that has been sold outJon - Harvey, La
And yet, through it all, nobody caught on to Rod's joke. The whole thing was written and recorded as a parody of disco - Do you think I'm sexy? Get it? Maybe not. I got it back in 1979 when I was only 11 - well, my mother gave me a clue and then Rod confirmed it later on.John - Greeneville, Tn
This song was played by bagpiper Jek Cunningham in the movie "So I Married An Ax Murderer" during the wedding party scene. He fell down while playing, and Charlie's father, who was singing along, uttered the famous line "We have a piper down!"Erik - Davis, Ca
This song was co-written with Rod by Vanilla Fudge's Carmine Applice. He played the drums in the song, too.Dc - Hilo, Hi
I still like him. Always have, always will. He's got a great voice and puts so much into his songs.Susie - Jacksonville, Fl