Rod Stewart Says Getting Married at 34 Was Too Young: 'I Had a Lot of Partying, Drinking and Shagging to Do'

"When I told my dad I was getting married [at 34], he said, 'You're far too young.' He was right," the rock icon tells PEOPLE of his first marriage to Alana Stewart

rod stewart and alana hamilton wedding
Rod and Alana Stewart. Photo: Ron Galella/Getty

Rod Stewart is sharing his advice for young couples and singles: don't get married until you've had a chance to live.

In this week's issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday, the legendary rocker, now 76, says that he learned that firsthand when he married his first wife Alana Stewart at age 34 in 1979. Even though he thought he was ready, he says he "wasn't."

"When I told my dad I was getting married, he said, 'You're far too young,'" Stewart recalls. "He was right. I still had a lot of living, partying, drinking and shagging to do."

Stewart and Alana ultimately divorced in 1984. Six years later, the London native found love again with model Rachel Hunter.

"When I got married a second time to Rachel [at 45], I really thought she was the one — but I got that wrong," he says.

Hunter left Stewart in 1999 after nine years of marriage. Just days later, he met his current wife, model Penny Lancaster.

"Rachel broke up with me on a Monday evening, and it was heartbreaking. No one leaves Rod!" Stewart says with a laugh. "But that Saturday night, I met Penny at the Dorchester Hotel in London. The bass player in my band, Carmine, said, 'Listen, you've just come out of a long nine-year marriage. You're not ready yet.' I nearly strangled him!"

Stewart's bandmate finally gave in and gave him Lancaster's phone number six months later. The rest is history.

"[Penny] has mended my heart in more ways than one," says Stewart, who married Lancaster in 2006. "It's a perfect relationship. I always tell the girls in my band and my daughters, 'A woman has so much living to do.' It's your life! Forget men!"

penny lancaster and rod stewart
Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

As for the key to his 14-year marriage, Stewart says intimacy has been crucial.

"I'm not talking about sex, but a kiss and a cuddle and a hold," he says. "Penny and I do that every morning. We hug each other — sometimes in bed, sometimes out of bed, all throughout the day. It's a wonderful relationship. Lucky geezer, aren't I?"

RELATED VIDEO: Rachel Hunter Opens Up About Creating One Family With Rod Stewart's Other Ex-Wife Alana Stewart

Together, Stewart and Lancaster, 50, share two sons, Alastair, 15, and Aiden, 10. In addition, Stewart also has daughter Sarah, 58, whom he and ex-girlfriend Susannah Boffey placed for adoption as teens; son Sean 41, and daughter Kimberly, 42, with Alana; daughter Ruby, 34, with ex-girlfriend Kelly Emberg; and daughter Renee, 29, and Liam, 27, with Hunter.

"I couldn't ask for anything better," he says. "What makes me happiest now is seeing all my kids and my wife with big smiles on their faces."

RELATED GALLERY: Rod Stewart Throwback Photos in Honor of His Birthday

penny lancaster and rod stewart
Rod Stewart, his wife Penny Lancaster and his kids. Penny Lancaster/Instagram

Beyond his life as a husband and father, Stewart has kept just as busy in his career. In 2022, he's set to reprise his acclaimed Las Vegas residency, "Rod Stewart: The Hits." But first, on Nov. 12, he'll release his 31st studio album, The Tears of Hercules, which he calls "the best album I've made in a long time."

Still, no matter what he accomplishes in his career, "success to me is being able to look after my kids and give them the opportunity to do what they want in business," Stewart says. "There's nothing like having kids."

For all the details on the lessons Rod Stewart's learned about love and life, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

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