It was an epic battle, but someone had to win in the end. And with just under 55 percent of the vote, Rod Stewart has emerged victorious as the latest inductee into the Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame.

Stewart's been through a lot of guises over the course of his nearly 50-year career -- band member, songwriter, solo star, American Songbook singer -- but no matter how many times his music or image have changed, his distinctive voice has remained the driving engine behind his success. It's only fitting that during his first trip to the United States, as the lead singer for the Jeff Beck Group, Stewart spent some time cowering behind the amps while performing; then, as now, people only needed to hear him to be impressed.

Of course, Stewart couldn't avoid the spotlight for long -- in fact, by the end of the '60s, he'd started establishing himself as a solo artist while also managing to find time to front the Faces, one of the most sweetly ragged rock groups of the '70s. And by the time the Faces imploded in 1975, he was ready for full-time solo stardom, cutting a platinum swath through the pop charts that took audiences from the folk-influenced sides of his early records through to the more radio-friendly pop records he'd cut throughout the '80s.

And while some fans lamented Stewart's full-on tilt into slick adult contemporary fare, there was no arguing with its success. By the end of the '80s, Stewart had thoroughly cemented his status as one of the most bankable acts of his generation -- not only on the charts, where he continued to score hits with records like 'Out of Order' and a long list of singles that were eventually compiled on 1989's bestselling 'Storyteller' box, but on the road, where he filled arenas with an energetic live set that pulled from a decades-strong catalog of classic material.

Stewart's hitmaking prowess started to wane slightly during the latter half of the '90s, but after a couple of less-than-blockbuster LPs, he evolved yet again, dipping into the American Songbook for an incredibly successful series of albums that -- while further alienating fans who still hoped for a return to more rock-oriented fare -- proved he remained a peerless interpreter of other people's material. And just when it seemed like he might be finished with songwriting for good, Stewart returned in 2013 with 'Time,' his first new collection of original material in a dozen years.

So what's next for Stewart? It's too soon to tell, and given the famously deliberate pace with which he tends to approach his projects, it may be some time before anyone knows what else is up his sleeve. But looking back over his distinguished career, it seems like a pretty safe bet that whatever he decides to do, it'll end up near the top of the charts.

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