Most people would have assumed that today’s example of rock mandolin would have been the first that I would have played. Had it not been for the particular influence of “Love in Vain,” then Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” would have been my first choice. When you mention mandolin in rock songs, it tends to be the selection that first comes to people’s minds.
The song was not intended to be the hit, as Tim Hardin’s “Reason to Believe” was selected to be the “A” side; however, disc jockeys across the world began flipping the single and playing “Maggie May.” “Reason to Believe” only charted in the US, but did poorly at #62.
“Maggie May,” however, did much better and was a number one record in the US and UK. It also was a Top 5 record in The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Ireland. In the US, the single was certified gold. Both “Reason to Believe” and “Maggie May” appear on the platinum certified “Every Picture Tells a Story.”
“Maggie May” was co-authored by Stewart and guitarist Martin Quittenton. They collaborated on two other songs, “You Wear it Well” and “Farewell.” The unforgettable mandolin part is credited on the album as “The mandolin was played by the mandolin player in Lindisfarne. The name slips my mind.” Because there were two mandolin players in Lindisfarne, people generally think of Simon Cowe – the guy with the wild hair.
Unfortunately, it was not Cowe, but rather Ray Jackson who lent his talents to this recording, “Mandolin Wind,” and “Farewell.” With “Maggie May’s” chart performance, it may be the best known of all of the rock tunes featuring mandolin.