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Rod Stewart’s 1971 breakthrough solo album, ‘Every Picture Tells a Story,’ celebrates its 50th anniversary

Mercury Records/UMG

Fifty years ago today, May 28, 1971, Rod Stewart released his third solo album, Every Picture Tells a Story.

While his previous two solo efforts brought Stewart critical acclaim, Every Picture Tells a Story was his big commercial breakthrough, topping the U.S. and U.K. charts.

The platinum-certified album includes Rod’s first big solo hit, “Maggie May,” which spent five weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also topped the U.K. singles chart. The tune has become his signature song. In a 2007 interview, Rod said “Maggie May” — which he co-wrote with guitarist Martin Quittenton — “was more or less a true story, about the first woman I had sex with.”

“Maggie May” initially was released as the B-side of Stewart’s popular cover of Tim Hardin‘s “Reason to Believe.” However, radio stations soon began playing “Maggie May” more than the single’s original A-side.

Every Picture Tells a Story also featured one other charting single, a cover of the 1966 Temptations hit “(I Know) I’m Losing You” that reached #24 on the Hot 100.

Other memorable tunes on the album include the title track, which Rod co-wrote with his Faces band mates Ronnie Wood, and the Stewart-penned “Mandolin Wind.” Covers of the early Elvis Presley hit “That’s All Right” and Bob Dylan‘s “Tomorrow Is a Long Time” also appear on the record.

At the time he released Every Picture Tells a Story, Rod also was lead singer of Faces, whose other members — Wood, bassist Ronnie Lane, keyboardist Ian McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones — all played on his album.

Also appearing on the record were Rod’s former musical boss, British blues artist Long John Baldry, and future Jefferson Starship member Pete Sears.

Here’s the album’s full track list:

“Every Picture Tells a Story”
“Seems Like a Long Time”
“That’s All Right/Amazing Grace”
“Tomorrow Is a Long Time”
“Maggie May”
“Mandolin Wind”
“(I Know) I’m Losing You”
“(Find a) Reason to Believe”

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