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The Arousing Story Behind Rod Stewart’s Hit Maggie May

Rod Stewart, the world-famous rock songwriter, and singer is just about to celebrate his 76th birthday on 10th January 2021. It’s unbelievable that the man is already 75. His ambitions and energy keep inspiring individuals all over the world. When we say that, we quite naturally mean that there are not many who can encapsulate the true essence of ‘rockstar’ like our beloved Rod the Mod. Here are all the important yet unknown facts that every Rod Stewart fan must know.

Born as Roderick David Stewart in North London, Rod Stewart was the youngest of five siblings. His parents were Elsie Rebecca Gilbart and Robert Joseph Stewart. His father was of Scottish origin and was a master builder by profession and Elsie was an English lady who grew up in North London. Rod’s parents tied the knot in 1928 and had two daughters and two sons while he was settled in Scotland. Rod was born about eight years after the birth of the youngest sibling, precisely when World War II was raging. He was a spoilt kid as he was the youngest in the family. Rod Stewart describes his childhood to be a fantastically happy one.

Now a little about Rod’s career. “Maggie May” pushed Rod Stewart’s career into high gear with a track heard and celebrated worldwide. It secured the #1 position on the US and UK pop singles charts simultaneously with an album titled Every Picture Tells a Story.

With such a win, the singer’s reputation as a gifted storyteller had been established with the melodic soundtrack of a younger man enchanted by a much older woman and gradually coming to terms with the most likely outcome of such an obsession. The respectful yet witty and self-deprecating lyrics of Maggie May makes an amazing pop masterpiece. “Maggie May” was originally launched as the B-Side of “Reason to Believe.” Although, the US DJs soon became even more enamored, and that resulted in “Maggie May” shooting up the US charts to #1. It was the second biggest hit of 1971. In 2015, Rod Stewart revealed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that initially, he did not think a lot about progressing with Maggie May.

Before his solo success, Rod Stewart earned acclaim through his work with Jeff Beck, a leading guitarist, and Faces, a rock group. Rod Stewart’s debut album entitled An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down did not enjoy massive success. On the other hand, Gasoline Alley made its way to the top 30 of the US album charts and also played a vital role in the groundwork for the album: Every Picture Tells a Story.

Rod’s Visit to a Jazz Fest and Losing His Virginity

In July 1961, a few of young Rod Stewart’s mates and he went to South England to enjoy camping at the then famous Beaulieu Jazz Festival. The iconic concert was conducted on the lawns of Lord Montagu’s magnificent estate. Lord Montagu was a huge fan of jazz. Rod Stewart was 16 years old then and gradually emerging out of his beatnik phase, confused whether he should be a Mod. As you must have guessed by now, it was indeed a transitional period for the aspiring singer.

At that time, Rod Stewart was more interested in mainstream jazz – not much into modern or Dixieland or but fond of saxophonists like Johnny Dankworth and Tubby Hayes. In the year before, the jazz festival had encountered a riot, so going back to the same show in 1961 was coupled with intrigue.

Rod Stewart and his companions snuck into the 1961 jazz festival via a huge runoff pipe and finally made their way to a beer tent. It was there that Rod first met a woman much older than him. Much later, he could make sense of her sexually predatory behaviour. One thing led to the other, and they ended up on a unfrequented patch of a nearby lawn. Rod was a virgin then, and he has later confessed that all that was on his mind was: This is the time, he better give a splendid performance or be prepared to put up with a bad reputation in the whole of North London. To his surprise, everything was over way too fast, in just a few seconds.


Was this the story of Maggie May? We believe, somewhere there was, and probably is, a real Maggie May. Has she ever suspected that she was Rod Stewart’s muse? We will find get to all of that and how the song was made years later. Meanwhile, if you are enjoying this video, do not forget to like and subscribe to our channel.

Well, her name wasn’t Maggie May, but the experience he shared with her influenced the writing of the brilliant summer song a decade later. Let’s look at how Rod came up with the song.

The 75-year-old singer recalls making �Maggie May’

In 1971, Rod Stewart was the lead singer of Faces and was also part of Mercury as a solo artist. He was all set to record his third album, “Every Picture Tells a Story,” when Rod Stewart met Martin Quittenton, an experienced songwriter and guitarist who was part of Steamhammer, a blues-rock band. Martin appeared to be a knowledgeable, sophisticated person, someone Rod Stewart liked right from the beginning. As he was also in search of a good acoustic musician for the upcoming album, he decided to check out Martin’s skills. So, the singer invited Martin to his house in Muswell Hill. As they were talking, Martin took out the guitar just like that and started strumming an old Bob Dylan number. Although Rod Stewart does not remember clearly, the song most likely was “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.

Then Martin began playing chords to a song he had written. Rod had quite instantly liked them and told him to strum and he will sing. Many of you may not be knowing this but that is how Rod works even today. He will first connect with a guitarist, and only when he hears some lovely chords, he will start humming and giving words and see what eventually comes out. That is exactly what had happened with Maggie May. As Martin started playing, Rod started humming a Liverpudlian folk song about a prostitute named Maggie Mae. The Beatles had included it on “Let It Be” a year earlier. As he was singing, the image of a hooker came to his mind, followed by the jazz festival he had attended when he was just 16. That was again followed by the incident of him losing his virginity. As these memories rushed back, he got more engrossed and started coming up with appropriate words.

Rod Stewart declared in an interview that he still has his black notebook – the one with a red binding down its back – the one he would use to write lyrics. His “Maggie May” scribbling took almost 20 pages. And what was unusual about the song’s lyrics is that they appeared more like a narrative than a typical song that circles back, forming a sing-along chorus. Rod Stewart says that it is because of his habit of storytelling that the song turned out the way it is. He also shared a surprising fact with his fans: Rod did not use “Maggie May” in his lyrics but just “Maggie.” “May” had popped up after “Maggie” in the song’s title at some point.

But Rod did not write anything down. He merely outlined a vocal sketch of the song mentally just by humming and tweaking the words here and there just to match what Martin was playing. To him, the lyrics were not that essential at that time, only the feel needed to be in place. The great Rod Stewart also stated that it works the same way for any song he records – As with any song I eventually record, I first wanted to develop an emotional connection.

Both Rod and Martin kept going on until both of them were satisfied with the product they received. When they were finally satisfied, Rod stated that they had enough of a line to bring take the song to the recording studio where he will book the bass and drams and produce all of it there.

 “Maggie May” did not have commercial potential

At first, “Maggie May” was not going to be featured in the album. Even if it seems too unusual, it is true. The song was more than five minutes long and did not have quite a catchy chorus. But as Rod and the team finished the album, they found that they were yet to include one more song. So, they added “Maggie May” as it had already been produced. For the album version, Rod Stewart included another 32-second introduction for “Maggie May”. This bit was titled “Henry” and was primarily Martin’s brainchild. Rod later claimed that he too had no idea as to why Martin had named it “Henry.”

When the single hit the marker, Mercury put “Maggie May” toward the B-side and “Reason to Believe” toward the A-side. And, it was not until a US-based radio disc artist flipped over 45 and started playing “Maggie May” that it began catching attention.

Initially, Rod was not even thinking about “Maggie May” and whether it would be a hit. The reason is that the record company did not have high hopes about the song. Rod was relatively young and was not that confident so, he figured that it would be wise to listen to those he thought knew better than him. Rod Stewart later confessed that the lesson he learned was that they are sometimes right and sometimes not.

And that’s how Stewart went on to become a superstar – and all thanks to his decision of writing about a long-ago personal experience of losing virginity.

At 74 years and 11 months, music icon Rod Stewart once again made it to the news for beating Paul Simon, the earlier record-holder by just three months with his album You’re In My Heart which is his 10th no.1 album. Now that you know almost everything you had to about the famous solo artist, we would want to know which is your favorite Rod Stewart number. Share the name with us in the comment section.

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