Maggie May

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"Maggie May"
German picture sleeve
Single by Rod Stewart
from the album Every Picture Tells a Story
A-side "Reason to Believe"
ReleasedJuly 1971
Length5:50 (Album version W/ Henry Intro)
3:43 (Single version)
Label Mercury
Songwriter(s) Rod Stewart, Martin Quittenton
Producer(s) Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart singles chronology
"It's All Over Now"
"Reason to Believe" / "Maggie May"
"(I Know) I'm Losing You"

"Maggie May" is a song co-written by singer Rod Stewart and Martin Quittenton, and performed by Rod Stewart on his album Every Picture Tells a Story , released in 1971.


In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the song number 130 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. [3]


"Maggie May" expresses the ambivalence and contradictory emotions of a boy 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 1961 Beaulieu Jazz Festival." [4] [5] The woman's name was not "Maggie May"; Stewart has stated that the name was taken from "an old Liverpudlian song about a prostitute." [5]

The song was recorded in just two takes in one session. Drummer Micky Waller often arrived at recording sessions with the expectation that a drum kit would be provided and, for "Maggie May", it was – except that no cymbals could be found. The cymbal crashes had to be overdubbed separately some days later. [6] [5]

The song was released as the B-side of the single "Reason to Believe", but soon radio stations began playing the B-side and "Maggie May" became the more popular side. 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 1971 performance of the song on Top of the Pops saw the Faces joined onstage by DJ John Peel, who pretended to play the mandolin. [7] The mandolin player on the actual recording was Ray Jackson of Lindisfarne.

The album version of "Maggie May" incorporates a 30-second solo guitar intro, "Henry", composed by Martin Quittenton. [5]

The original recording has appeared on almost all of Rod Stewart's compilations, and even appeared on the Ronnie Wood retrospective Ronnie Wood Anthology: The Essential Crossexion . A version by the Faces recorded for BBC Radio appeared on the four-disc box set Five Guys Walk into a Bar... . A live version recorded in 1993 by Stewart joined by Wood for a session of MTV Unplugged is included on the album Unplugged...and Seated .

Chart performance

In October 1971, the song went to number one on the UK Singles Chart (for five weeks), [8] and simultaneously topped the charts in Australia (four weeks), Canada (one week), and the United States (six weeks). It was the No. 2 record for 1971 on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and UK singles charts.

The song re-entered the UK chart in December 1976, but only reached number 31.

At first, I didn't think much of "Maggie May." I guess that's because the record company didn't believe in the song. I didn't have much confidence then. I figured it was best to listen to the guys who knew better. What I learned is sometimes they do and sometimes they don't.

Rod Stewart, 2015 [5]


RegionCertification Certified units/sales
New Zealand (RMNZ) [21] Gold10,000*
United Kingdom (BPI) [22] Platinum600,000Double-dagger-14-plain.png
United States (RIAA) [23] 2× Platinum2,000,000Double-dagger-14-plain.png

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
Double-dagger-14-plain.png Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


See also

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