By Kevin O'Donnell
Updated June 24, 2013 12:00 PM

Neither rain nor rehearsal nor three knee surgeries can keep Rod Stewart from one of his great loves: soccer. So on an uncharacteristically bleak morning in Los Angeles recently, the singer kept to his weekend ritual of playing in his amateur league. It’s a good thing too. “We won!” he declares afterward, lounging in the opulent living room of his Beverly Hills estate. “Now rigor mortis is setting in.”

He’s joking, of course. Happily married to Penny Lancaster-Stewart, 42, for six years, and with their two sons (Alastair, 7, and Aiden, 2), six grown children, one grandchild and a still vibrant music career, the 68-year-old Scottish singing legend is hardly resting on the sidelines. After more than 10 years of recording classics from the Great American Songbook, he’s back with an album of original material, Time. Featuring songs inspired by his 2006 divorce from supermodel Rachel Hunter, finding love again with Penny and fatherhood, “it’s my most personal work,” says the Grammy winner. “And the songs are also my most philosophical. It’s the only way to be. My life has always been an open book.”

Call it Rod’s Happily Ever After. On many days at his palatial mansion, the family patriarch can be found sipping afternoon tea on the veranda overlooking his pool, or kicking around a ball with Alastair on their soccer field. “He comes home from school and says, ‘Dad, let’s go!'” Stewart says. “Then I have a stretch and go play. If there’s a fountain of youth, it’s children.”

Not to mention a loving wife. Though Stewart is laser-focused prepping for a string of concerts (after rehearsal one Saturday afternoon in L.A., the exacting singer snaps, “It sounds like s—!”), Penny can quickly brighten his mood. On his new album, Stewart immortalizes the moment he first met his statuesque third wife with the song “Sexual Religion.” “It was in the Dorchester Hotel [in London], and we were all in this club,” says the star. “She was on the dance floor and was amazingly sexy.”

Though their two young boys occupy much of their days now, the couple still have date nights. But, says Stewart, “Penny has to put the kids to bed. She’ll leave me waiting in the car for hours!” Stewart pauses, sips his Starbucks coffee and cracks, “Women … they have no sense of time.”

Stewart himself is keenly aware of the ticking clock – and eager not to waste a moment. “I’m always working,” says Stewart, who returns to his Las Vegas residency at Caesars Palace in July and hits the road for a tour in October. But before heading back to rehearsal, he gets in a few more minutes of soccer with his kids. When Alastair drills a ball into his iPad, causing the screen to crack, Stewart gently reprimands the boy before wrapping his sobbing son in his arms. Yes, the rocker may have lived a life of excess in the ’70s, but these days he’s a doting – and disciplining – dad. “I battle constantly with whether I’m not spoiling my children,” says Stewart. “I try to instill my values in them, and they’ll say, ‘Dad, we didn’t grow up like you. Where’s the comparison?’ But they’re great. They keep me alive!”