Rocker Rod Stewart was turned off the idea of recording a Christmas album for years because he was convinced the cheesy holiday tunes were "beneath" him.

The Maggie May hitmaker admits he was a snob when it came to seasonal releases and it wasn't until more recently that he started giving it some serious consideration.

He tells, "I think maybe I thought it was beneath me, years ago, to do a Christmas album. I thought, 'I'm a dyed-in-the-wool rocker. I cannot do Christmas albums - or standards.'"

However, Stewart later changed his tune and after scoring chart hits with his The Great American Songbook compilations of standards, he decided to try his hand at his first holiday album, Merry Christmas, Baby.

He says, "What with the success of the American Songbook (series), it seemed a natural progression.

"The American Songbook was a fork in the road (a new direction), and so is the Christmas album. I'm so pleased I did it. It's some beautiful songs, and the songs are a challenge - like the American Songbook."

Stewart's new album has become one of the biggest holiday releases around the world this Christmas.