IT WAS an addiction which threatened to bring his half-century of stardom to an abrupt and tragic end. But Rod Stewart has revealed he still relies on the steroids which almost cost him his life.
Last year the veteran rock star revealed he had battled an addiction to prescription drugs, which ended with him hallucinating on stage and suffering from internal bleeding.
But now the 68-year-old singer has admitted he continues to use the steroids to keep touring.
He said he risks taking the anti-inflammatory drug prednisone when his vocal chords fail him.
The singer said: “I still use steroids around once a year if I’m really struggling. It gets you through the show, but you pay for it. You can’t sing for a week.”
But he added: “Your voice always comes back. Strange phenomenon, the voice. All the f***ing money I’ve made just because of this thing.”
Stewart admitted he felt ashamed about the damage that his medication dependency did to his career in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
He said: “I let myself down on tours when I was addicted to steroids.
“In those days the band kept getting louder and I kept blowing my voice out. The steroids will take down the swelling in any membrane and it’s what you do when you are in a bit of a pinch and need to do a show and you can’t sing.”
The multi-millionaire, whose devotion to his favourite football club led him to name his Beverly Hills mansion Celtic House, said his addiction to steroid injections almost ended in tragedy during a concert in Yorkshire in March 1991.
The father-of-eight recalled how one night on stage in Sheffield he suffered heavy internal bleeding and was hallucinating.
“The steroids had eaten a hole in my stomach and I was bleeding internally and hallucinating. I thought I was in the kitchen with my mum. What the audience must have thought.”
After clinging to the microphone to prevent his legs from giving way the star received an emergency blood transfusion, which saved his life.
The artist, who has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, revealed that his addiction also caused a host of other health problems.
He said: “Steroids make you fat and bloated. You can’t sleep and you get really irritable. It’s the most horrible drug in the world.”
After his health scare, the singer weaned himself off the medication and dramatically improved his throat problems by using an in-ear monitor which allowed him to hear himself better and stopped him from straining his voice.
Declan Naughton, professor of biomolecular medical science at Kingston University, London, said there were numerous health risks associated with taking an anti- inflammatory steroid such as prednisone.
He added: “It is incredibly powerful, but like all medicines that are incredibly powerful it has incredible side-effects. Taking it without medical supervision is a bad idea.
“Users can develop Cushing’s syndrome where your bones become brittle, your skin becomes thin and in some cases your skin almost becomes like paper and you can actually tear it.”
Other symptoms include rapid weight gain, facial puffiness, high blood pressure, mood swings, tiredness, loss of libido, acne and anxiety.
The corticosteroid, which prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation, is used to treat breathing disorders, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus and psoriasis.
Stewart, who recently released his first self-penned album in more than 20 years, has also revealed it was the troubles of his Leith-born father Robert that led him to hate gambling.
He told the music magazine Mojo: “I loved my dad dearly, idolised him, but he did love a bit of a gamble and it was nearly the downfall of the entire Stewart empire.
“He’d borrow money from me and my brother and he’d be down the betting office.
“I remember as a toddler when my mum had to pawn her wedding ring – it was only a gold band – for a couple of bob because dad had blown all the money; she was all teary-eyed about it.
“It was his only vice, but it’s made me so anti-gambling. I try to instil this in my kids.”
Recent reports have linked One Direction singer Harry Styles, 19, to the veteran performer’s daughter Kimberly, 33. Stewart insists he has no problem with his daughters dating fellow musicians.
He said: “I’m a pretty easygoing father, sometimes a little too easygoing. It really wouldn’t worry me at all.”
He added: “I did warn my daughter when she was going out with a would-be rock star – I won’t say which one – and she was asked to travel with him. I said: ‘Whatever you do, before you even get on the plane insist on a return air-fare, first-class and your own room.’ My kids have read my book – they know what I was like.”