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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)
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]

In 2017, the 1971 release of "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart on Mercury Records was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[4]


"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."[5][6] The woman's name was not "Maggie May"; Stewart has stated that the name was taken from "an old Liverpudlian song about a prostitute."[6]

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.[7][6]

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.[8] 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.[6]

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[edit]

In October 1971, the song went to number one on the UK Singles Chart (for five weeks),[9] and simultaneously topped the charts in Australia (four weeks), Canada (one week), and the United States (five 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[6]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
New Zealand (RMNZ)[23] Gold 10,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] Platinum 600,000
United States (RIAA)[25] 2× Platinum 2,000,000

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


Blur cover[edit]

The English alternative rock band Blur released a cover of Maggie May in 1993 for a CD given away with UK rock magazine Q.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reed, Ryan (18 September 2019). "Rod Stewart Preps New Orchestral LP 'You're in My Heart'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  2. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Best of Love: 16 Great Soft Rock Hits". AllMusic.
  3. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time 2004 101-200". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 20 June 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  4. ^ https://www.grammy.com/awards/hall-of-fame-award#m
  5. ^ "Maggie May by Rod Stewart Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e Myers, Marc (23 October 2015). "Maggie May – A Song of Loss". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. p. D6. Archived from the original on 21 October 2015.
  7. ^ Rod – The Autobiography ISBN 9781780890524
  8. ^ "John Peel". The Independent. 27 October 2004.
  9. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 265–66. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  10. ^ "Go-Set Magazine Charts". www.poparchives.com.au. Barry McKay. January 2007. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  11. ^ "Image: RPM Weekly". Library and Archives Canada. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  12. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Rod Stewart" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  13. ^ "Rod Stewart – Maggie May" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  14. ^ [Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–2002]
  15. ^ "Top 100 1971-10-23". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  16. ^ * Zimbabwe. Kimberley, C. Zimbabwe: singles chart book. Harare: C. Kimberley, 2000
  17. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". www.collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  18. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1971". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  19. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1971". MegaCharts. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  20. ^ "Top Pop 100 Singles" Billboard 25 December 1971: TA-36
  21. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1971". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  22. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  23. ^ "Rod's Got The Face In New Zealand" (PDF). Cash Box. 30 March 1974. p. 53. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  24. ^ "British single certifications – Rod Stewart – Maggie May". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  25. ^ "American single certifications – Rod Stewart – Maggie May". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  26. ^ "Rod faces Maggie May action". BBC. 3 March 2003. Retrieved 5 December 2019.

External links[edit]