you're reading...
Daily History

October 2 1971 Rod Stewart earns his first #1 hit with “Maggie May”

On October 2nd 1971, one of the greatest rock songs of all time, “Maggie May,” became Rod Stewart’s first #1 hit.

If living well is the best revenge, then Rod Stewart has long since avenged the critical barbs he’s suffered through the years.

Still active in his fifth decade as a recording star, he can point to nearly three dozen pop hits and nearly 40 million albums sold as proof that he’s done something very right.

Yet all of his commercial success wouldn’t silence those purists who believe that Rod Stewart wasted the greatest male voice in rock history by putting it to use in service of disco anthems and an endless string of generic adult-contemporary ballads.

Whatever one’s opinion about Stewart’s musical choices few could deny the pure perfection of his performance on “Maggie May.”

An international hit that topped the U.K. and U.S. pop charts simultaneously in the autumn of 1971, “Maggie May” was a last-minute addition to the album Every Picture Tells a Story and was originally released as the “B” side to the single “Reason To Believe.”

Soon, however, radio programmers began flipping “Reason To Believe” in favour of “Maggie May,” the possibly autobiographical tale of a young man reflecting wistfully on the end of a love affair with an older woman.

With its ringing acoustic guitar and mandolin arrangement, “Maggie May” reflected the full range of influences that had shaped a singer-songwriter then better known for the harder-edged music of the rock bands he’d fronted in the late 1960s and very early 1970s: the Faces and the Jeff Beck Group.

But Rod Stewart had begun his path to stardom as an itinerant banjo- and harmonica-playing Bob Dylan devotee, and it was that folk sensibility that helped make “Maggie May” such a standout hit.

“Maggie May” and Every Picture Tells a Story launched Rod Stewart’s spectacular solo career; a career that has included 33 subsequent top-40 hits on the American pop chart, including two subsequent #1s in “Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright)” (1977), “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” (1979).

Rod Stewart’s detractors may believe that they also marked a creative high point in a career that has seen more success among record-buyers and concert-goers than among rock critics, yet those record-buyers and concert-goers continue to support a singer who has even managed to reinvent himself successfully as a crooner of jazz standards in his fifth decade as a major pop star.

This Day In History

About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner, Writer, Teacher and Business Consultant. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications. Please consider donating, to support our social justice campaign, by clicking on the "Donations Page" button in the top menu.


One thought on “October 2 1971 Rod Stewart earns his first #1 hit with “Maggie May”

  1. A great song and album.

    Posted by tomsimard | October 2, 2012, 02:37

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 1,802 other subscribers

Advance Institute of Business has nationally recognised Australian Business qualifications. Click here to find out more.

%d bloggers like this: