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
GenreFolk rock[1]
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 131 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[2]


"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."[3][4] The woman's name was not "Maggie May"; Stewart has stated that the name was taken from "an old Liverpudlian song about a prostitute."[4]

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.[5][4]

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.[6] 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.[4]

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 in the UK Singles Chart (for five weeks),[7] and simultaneously topped the charts in Australia (four weeks), Canada (one week), and the United States (six weeks). Every Picture Tells a Story achieved the same status at the same time.[8][clarification needed] It was the No. 2 record for 1971 on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the 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[4]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
New Zealand (RMNZ)[21] Gold 10,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[22] Gold 400,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[23] Gold 1,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


Other Versions[edit]

The Pogues recorded a version during the sessions for If I Should Fall from Grace with God in 1987. The song remained unreleased until 2008, when it appeared on Just Look Them Straight In The Eye And Say... Poguemahone!! - The Pogues Box Set[25]

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. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. 11 December 2003. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  3. ^ "Maggie May by Rod Stewart Songfacts". Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Rod – The Autobiography ISBN 9781780890524
  6. ^ "John Peel". The Independent. 27 October 2004.
  7. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 265–66. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  8. ^ "Allmusic: Every Picture Tells a Story : Charts & Awards : Billboard Albums". Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Go-Set Magazine Charts". Barry McKay. January 2007. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Image: RPM Weekly". Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Rod Stewart" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  12. ^ " – Rod Stewart – Maggie May" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  13. ^ [Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–2002]
  14. ^ "Top 100 1971-10-23". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  15. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  16. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1971". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  17. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1971". MegaCharts. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  18. ^ "Top Pop 100 Singles" Billboard 25 December 1971: TA-36
  19. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1971". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  21. ^ "Rod's Got The Face In New Zealand" (PDF). Cash Box. 30 March 1974. p. 53. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  22. ^ "British single certifications – Rod Stewart – Maggie May". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 22 March 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Maggie May in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  23. ^ "American single certifications – Rod Stewart – Maggie May". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 22 March 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  24. ^ "Rod faces Maggie May action". BBC. 3 March 2003. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  25. ^ "The Pogues – Just Look Them Straight In The Eye And Say... Poguemahone!! - The Pogues Box Set". Retrieved 16 November 2020.

External links[edit]