Perhaps it’s just me @loomisjohnson, but Rod has always struck me as one of the thousands of guys who try too hard to sound "soulful" (black). I can understand wanting to have the gravitas of Big Joe Turner and/or Ray Charles, but a skinny little kid from England who dresses like a girl (frilly shirts, satin bell bottoms, shag/rooster hairdo) can hardly expect to pull that off.
Rod has that "gravelly" texture in his voice, but that’s just on the surface. There’s no depth to his voice, unlike Richard Manuel, who did sound very Ray Charles-influenced, but who expressed sincere emotion, including pain. Clapton heard it in Richard’s singing, and so do I. Rod sounds no better to me than Michael Bolton: fake emoting. I’ve never understood why The Faces brought in Rod Stewart. They had a perfectly good singer in Steve Marriot. Far better than Rod, imo.
Of the UK guys, I’ll take Van Morrison and Gary Brooker. You know, men 😉 .