Maggie May (5:14)

Cover of Every Picture Tells A Story

From Every Picture Tells A Story and 271 other releases

“Maggie May” is a song written by singer Rod Stewart and Martin Quittenton and recorded by Stewart in 1971 for his album Every Picture Tells A Story.
Most versions of “Maggie May” incorporate a 30-second solo guitar intro, “Henry”, composed by Martin Quittenton.

“Maggie May” expresses the ambivalence and contradictory emotions of a young man involved in a relationship with an older woman, and was written from Stewart’s own experience. In the January, 2007 issue of Q magazine, Stewart recalled: “Maggie May was more or less a true story, about the first woman I had sex with, at the Beaulieu Jazz Festival.”

It was initially released in the United Kingdom as the B-side of the single “Reason to Believe,” but DJs became fonder of the B-side and, after two weeks on the charts, the song was reclassified, with “Maggie May” becoming the A-side. However, the single continued to be pressed with “Maggie May” as the B-side.

In October 1971, the song went to number one in the UK and simultaneously topped the charts in the United States. Every Picture Tells a Story achieved the same status at the same time, a feat achieved by only a handful of performers, notably The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and Beyoncé.

The song was Stewart’s first substantial hit as a solo performer and launched his solo career. It remains one of his best-known songs. A famous live performance of the song on Top of the Pops saw The Faces joined onstage by DJ John Peel, who pretended to play the mandolin (the mandolin player on the recording was Ray jackson of Lindisfarne). Stewart himself was amused by the song’s success, saying, “I still can’t see how the single is such a big hit. It has no melody. Plenty of character and nice chords, but no melody.

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