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#ThrowbackThursday: “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart

"Maggie May" was a song from the third solo Rod Stewart album Every Picture Tells A Story.
  – "Maggie May" was a song from the third solo Rod Stewart album Every Picture Tells A Story.

by Sean Smith

British rock legend Rod Stewart is set to release his twenty-ninth studio album this Friday. Yes, you read that right, his 29th. The newest album in his extensive catalogue is called Another Country. Unlike a number of his albums released in more recent time, the lion’s share of this project is original work written and produced by Stewart himself, including the album’s lead single “Love Is.”

Rod Stewart, who turned 70 this year, is also preparing for a busy 2016 performing schedule. The singer will be entering his fifth year of Las Vegas residency performing at Caesars Palace in the spring. It was also recently announced that Stewart will be playing a number of dates in the UK and Ireland in June. A complete list of dates and venues for Stewart’s 2016 tour can be found on his website here.

In the 1960s, Rod Stewart got his musical start in England as a member of a few groups, like the Dimensions and the Jeff Beck Group, while also working on his own solo work. He released his first solo album at the end of the decade with the 1969 U.S. release of The Rod Stewart Album. That same album would be released in his native UK a year later in 1970 with the title An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down. However, he was unable to garner much commercial success with the project. In fact, Rod Stewart wouldn’t truly breakthrough as a solo artist until he gained unexpected success with a song from his third studio album.

In 1971 Rod Stewart released his third studio effort Every Picture Tells a Story. The lead single for the album was “Reason to Believe,” a cover of a 1965 Tim Harden song of the same name. At the time of its release “Reason to Believe” was only met with moderate success. Although a couple decades later a live version of the song performed on MTV’s Unplugged in 1993 made it a much bigger success later on. But back in 1971, despite “Reason to Believe” being issued as the lead single, radio disc jockeys started taking more of a liking to the B-side of the single “Maggie May.” That being the case, “Maggie May” started getting more and more spins on the radio and before anyone knew it the song unexpectedly found its way to the top of the charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom. It became Rod Stewart’s first #1 single of his career as well as his breakthrough solo record.

As for the origins of “Maggie May,” it was co-written by Rod Stewart and was based on a real life experience he had as a teenager. When he was 16, he and some friends snuck into a jazz festival through a sewage pipe. He came across an older woman in a beer tent who in turn came on to him. This led to the then 16-year-old Rod Stewart losing his virginity to this older woman right there in the grass, smack dab in the middle of this outdoor jazz festival.

So with Rod Stewart releasing his 29th studio album Another Country this Friday, this week we remember his unexpected breakthrough #1 single “Maggie May.” Enjoy.

 

Rod Stewart 

“Maggie May”

From: Every Picture Tells A Story

Mercury Records