Meaning of Maggie May – Rod Stewart

Do you remember how you lost your virginity? Tell us in the comments if you feel free to share your experience. And if you are shy, just read on about how Rod Stewart learned the delights of adulthood. His unoriginal, but still funny story prompted the artist to write the composition “Maggie May”, which became the famous singer’s first international hit.

In 1961, young Rod went with friends to a music festival, where the guys came off in the spirit of such events. He described memorable events in his autobiography:

When I was sixteen I went to the New Forest for the Beaulieu Jazz Festival. A few friends and I made our way through an overflowing sewer. And there, on a secluded patch of lawn, I lost my worthless innocence with an older (and bigger) woman who was very actively molesting me in a beer tent. How much older, I can’t say for sure, but mature enough to be extremely disappointed by an event in the spirit of “no time to blink.”

Rod: The Autobiography, 2012

He spoke in more detail about the first sexual experience in an interview with The Wall Street Journal:

In July 1961, a few friends and I went to the south of England to relax in the open air at the Bewley Jazz Festival. The concert was held on the meadows of the estate of Lord Montagu, a big fan of jazz. I was sixteen, just coming out of the beatnik stage and thinking about becoming a mod. For me, it was a transitional period with extreme confusion… That afternoon we entered the festival through a large drainpipe and eventually made it to the beer tent.

There I met an older woman who was somewhat of a sexual predator. Word for word, we ended up nearby on a secluded lawn. I was a virgin and all I could think about was: “So, Rod Stewart, you’ve got to do your best or your reputation in all of North London will be ruined.” But it was all over in a few seconds. Her name wasn’t Maggie May, but the experience with her helped me write the song ten years later.

What was the name of the girl, Stuart never told: either he did not have time to get acquainted, or he forgot, or he hid it out of politeness. And he borrowed the name from “an old Liverpool song about a prostitute” (The WSJ).

The Mercury record company didn’t want to include “Maggie May” on the “Every Picture Tells a Story” album. Rod recalled:

It almost got thrown out because the label said it didn’t have a tune. I said, “We don’t have time left, and that’s all the tracks we recorded.” Then they said, “All right, then let him stay.”

The author also did not foresee the success of the track:

At first, I had a low opinion of “Maggie May”. I guess it was because the record company didn’t believe in the song. And then I was not very sure of myself. I thought the best thing to do was to listen to the guys who knew the business best. As I understand it, sometimes they understand, and sometimes they don’t.


Unexpectedly for Rod and the producers, the song, published on the back of the single “Reason to Believe” (1971), topped the charts in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, and also rose high in the charts in other countries.

Check out the music video of Rod Stewart performing “Maggie May” on The Kenny Everett Show.

“Maggie May” became the first rock hit with a mandolin part. It was performed by British musician Ray Jackson. In the liner notes for the album, Stewart wrote that he did not remember his name. In 2003, Jackson made himself known by issuing a statement:

I am convinced that my contribution to “Maggie May”, which happened early in my career, when I was just becoming famous through my work with Lindisfarne, was very important for the success of the record.

Rod Stewart’s rep only reminded Ray of the traditional £15 rate that paid for a session musician:

As is always the case with studio work, any musical contributions he might have made were then paid in full as “work for hire.”

Jackson did not sue, but has since been featured in articles about the Maggie May story.

And now the official video clip with the live version of the song.

Interesting Facts

  • Rod Stewart became the first musician whose works topped four top charts at once. In October 1971, the song “Maggie May” and the album “Every Picture Tells a Story” climbed to the first lines of the charts in the US and UK.
  • The real “Maggie May” hasn’t contacted Rod Stewart and likely doesn’t know the song is about her.
  • Rolling Stone included the song in The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Maggie May lyrics
Rod StewartMaggie May Lyrics
Rod StewartWake up, Maggie I think I got something to say to you
It’s late September and I really should be back at school
I know I keep you amused, but I feel I’m being used
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more
You led me away from home
Just to save you from being alone
You stole my heart, and that’s what really hurts
The morning sun, when it’s in your face really shows your age
But that don’t worry me none in my eyes, you’re everything
It’s the end of September and I should go back to school
I know you have fun with me, but I feel like I’m being used.
Oh Maggie, I couldn’t try harder
You took me away from home
Just to escape the loneliness
You stole my heart and it really hurts
The morning sun on your face betrays your true age
But I don’t care ’cause you’re everything to me I laughed at all of your jokes
My love you didn’t need to coax
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more
You led me away from home
Just to save you from being alone
You stole my soul, and that’s a pain I can do without
Darling, you didn’t have to beg
Oh Maggie, I couldn’t try harder
You took me away from home
Just to escape the loneliness
You stole my soul and I can do without this pain All I needed was a friend to lend a guiding hand
But you turned into a lover, and, mother,
What a lover you wore me out
All you did was wreck my bed
And, in the morning, kick me in the head
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more
You led me away from home
‘Cause you didn’t want to be alone
You stole my heart, I couldn’t leave you if I tried
But you turned into a lover and mother
You wore me down with your love
You just broke my bed
And in the morning she kicked me on the head
Oh Maggie, I couldn’t try harder
You took me away from home
Just to escape the loneliness
You stole my heart, I still couldn’t leave you I suppose I could collect my books and get on back to school
Or steal my daddy’s cue and make a living out of playing pool
Or find myself a rock ‘n’ roll band
That needs a helping hand
Oh, Maggie, I wish I’d never seen your face
You made a first-class fool out of me
But I’m as blind as a fool can be
You stole my heart, but I love you anyway
Or steal your father’s cue and make a living playing pool
Or find yourself a rock band
who needs an assistant
Oh Maggie, I wish I had never met you
You made me a classy jerk
But I’m blind, as only a fool can be blind
You stole my heart but I still love you Maggie I wish that I’d never seen your face
I’ll get a ride home one of these days
I’m going home one of these days

Song quote

… a more or less true story about the first woman I had sex with at the Beaulieu Jazz Festival.

Rod Stewart, Q, 2007

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