Margaret “Maggie” Bell was born on 12 January 1945, at Maryhill, Glasgow, in Scotland. She began singing in her teenage years and left school at the age of fifteen to work as a window dresser by day and singer at night with a number of local bands.
Maggie joined a group called The Power of Music (which was eventually shortened to Power) and performed regularly at US Air Force bases in Germany in the mid-1960s.
Peter Grant (who was managing The Yardbirds at the time) heard Power at one of these bases, was impressed by the vocal ability of Bell and the guitar playing of Les Harvey and agreed to produce and manage them – renaming the group Stone The Crows in the process.
Stone the Crows split up following the accidental death by electrocution of Les Harvey on 2 May 1972. Peter Grant continued to manage Maggie and arranged for her to record a solo album, Queen Of The Night (1973), which she did in New York with Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler over the period of a year (she scrapped two takes of the album because they “weren’t 100%”).
The album was was, stylistically, very American in approach (Maggie used Aretha Franklin‘s backing musicians), but while the album created some substantial ripples of interest, particularly, in the States, it failed to set the world alight.
She followed up with another solo album, Suicide Sal, in 1975. This one was a straightforward rock record (including a version of the Free classic, Wishing Well) with a style evolved more from her days with Stone The Crows than her flirtation with Atlantic soul.
At the close of 1975, Maggie decided she’d had enough. She had been on the road for seven years and wanted a rest so she bought a small house in Barnes and put her feet up.
Despite being voted Britain’s top female singer in 1972, 1973 and 1974, it was not until 1978 that she enjoyed her first hit single – and it took the theme music from the TV detective series Hazell to put her in the charts. It was Roxy Music‘s Andy Mackay – the man responsible for the music behind TV’s Rock Follies who coaxed Maggie back to the limelight and success.