Maggie Bell – Wishing Well

When I heard Maggie Bell a few years ago…the Scottish-born singer blew me away with her voice. A very big Janis vibe to her. I’ve read that she was called the UK’s Janis Joplin but she had her own style.

This song was on the album Suicide Sal released in 1975 on Led Zeppelin’s new record label Swan Song. The song was composed by John “Rabbit” Bundrick, Simon Kirke, Paul Kossoff, Paul Rodgers, and Tetsu Yamauchi. Wishing Well was a song by the band Free and it was originally released in 1972. Maggie puts her spin on it and I love it.

Jimmy Page played on this album and I love the funky bass groove that opens the song. The song didn’t chart but she would later have a top 40 song in the UK with the song Hazell.

Maggie Bell was the former lead singer of Stone The Crows. Peter Grant signed the band and had big plans for them. He was the most powerful manager in rock at that time because of Led Zeppelin. The band would come to a tragic end though. Guitarist Leslie Harvey was electrocuted and died on stage at the Top Rank in Swansea on May 3, 1972. He was the only one in position on the stage. Bell has said: “It was a fluke, we were standing at the side of the stage; we hadn’t even started yet. Leslie said to the audience: ‘There’s a technical hitch,’ and he touched the microphone and the guitar. And that was it.”  The road crew overlooked one loose ground wire.

Steve Howe of Yes helped fill in for some shows for the band after that. Jimmy McCulloch then joined them and they released an album with some songs by Harvey and a couple by McCulloch who would later join Paul McCartney and Wings. The band was over in 1973 but Peter Grant continued to manage Maggie til the early eighties.

Bell was in shock for years afterward but she said:  “I thought to myself: ‘Am I going to give all this up and go back up to Scotland and have two kids?’ I mean, this was a dream we’d planned. Peter said there would be no legal problems if I didn’t want to carry on. I said no, there was a plan. I was going to make sure that I finished the journey. I’m seventy-six years old, I’m still doing it. I mean, the body’s falling apart, but the voice is still fabulous!”

Pat Blythe: The Women of Blues Part Four – Maggie Bell | Segarini: Don't  Believe a Word I Say

You can hear Maggie Bell sing on Every Picture Tells Story by Rod Stewart. She was credited as having “vocal abrasives.” I don’t think I ever heard Maggie Bell on American radio which is a shame.

Wishing Well

Take off your hat, kick off your shoes
I know you ain’t goin’ anywhere
Run ’round the town singin’ your blues
I know you ain’t goin’ anywhere.

You’ve always been a good, good friend of mine,
But you’re always sayin’ “Farewell”
And the only time that you’re satisfied
Is when you dream from the wishing well.

Throw down your gun you might shoot yourself.
Or is that what you’re tryin’ to do?
Put up a fight you believe to be right
Someday the sun will shine through.

You’ve always been a good, good friend of mine,
But you’re always sayin’ “Farewell”
And the only time you’re satisfied
Is when you dream, dream from the wishing well.

And I know what you’re wishing for
Love in a peaceful world
Love in a peaceful world
Love in a peaceful world

You’ve always been a good, good, good friend of mine,
But you’re always sayin’ “Farewell”
And the only time that you’re satisfied
Is with your feet in the wishing well.

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

37 thoughts on “Maggie Bell – Wishing Well”

    1. I didn’t know she sang on that either and yes it might be my favorite Stewart song. I never heard of her until a few years ago…what a voice she has.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it was…at the time Zep were the biggest band in the world. She has a great voice but she never hit over on this side of the Atlantic.

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  1. One of my top 100 albums has always been Queen of the Night by Maggie Bell. It’s got about 10 or 11 great tracks on it and all those musicians are really fantastic on it. But I didn’t like Suicide Sal nearly as much.

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    1. I had no clue about her until a few years ago…probably through blogs. Her voice is unbelievable. Thanks…I’ll have to check that album out.

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  2. You know what? I don’t ever remember hearing her on American radio either but I wasn’t even born when that album came out, but I think her cover of After Midnight like just barely cracked the top 40 or top 100 or something like that. It was some kind of minor hit, I think I remember reading somewhere. It’s a great record too like the rest of the album

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  3. Free sounds a lot like Bad Company, and this song reminds me a little of Jon Bon Jovi. I remember it from way back. I love her cover of it. She’s got a hella good voice. Glad she kept on after the tragedy of the fatal oversight by the road crew. Damn! What a way to go 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! Love Maggie Bell and Stone the Crows! Anyone enjoys raucous, bluesy rock should check them out. Also Wishing Well is my favourite Free track by a long shot.
    Maggie is from the Maryhill area of Glasgow, as was Donovan. I have a feeling Mark Knopfler also lived in the area briefly between leaving te street I grew up in and moving to Newcastle Upon Tyne. (I’d have to check that.)

    And you know Leslie Harvey was brother of Alex – of Sensational Alex Harvey Band fame. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m in love with her voice! I only found her a few years ago… she unfortunately is not played here.
      I never realized that was his brother.

      I like this one and A Little Bit of Love by Free. There are so many places I would want to see if I ever make it over there.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Now I remember where I first heard her and it was in the 90s when I saw the London Symphony Orchestra version of The Who’s Tommy in the used record store which came out in 1972 and it came in a box with really elaborate packaging, and I love unusual packaging so I bought it for like four or five bucks. And Roger Daltrey sings all his usual Tommy parts and P Townsend and even the other guys in The Who sing a couple songs. And Maggie Bell sings the part of Mother and I think also the nurse. And it’s also got Rod Stewart and Ringo and Steve Winwood and all these other cool people and it’s the greatest album in the whole world. I like it as much as regular Tommy. But that’s where I first heard her.

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    1. I read about that yesterday… I’ve never heard it… I’ll track it down on YouTube…
      I just heard her version of Tommy Can You Hear Me… it’s good

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      1. The only place you could hear it online is on YouTube music and probably regular YouTube. I was trying to help somebody find it a while ago and none of the streaming services have it except YouTube music

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  6. Never heard her name, she did sound like Janis , at least on that track. Not my favorite kind of female voice but the song has a certain catchiness to it anyway. Poor dude with the live wire. While you were on your mini-holiday, I wrote about Curtis Mayfield… a little like that , had bad luck to be walking onstage just as a thunderstorm blew up, knocked down the lights, one hit him on the neck with major impact and he was paralyzed for the rest of his life, which was quite shortened no doubt because of it. Then there was the Radiohead roadie killed in Toronto when part of their set collapsed on him. Putting a different spin on the idea of rock music being ‘dangerous’, unfortunately.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea that was terrible with Les Harvey…I have read about Mayfield…you talk about wrong place at the wrong time.
      Yea we think a like on most stuff except that…my favorite female singers have rough scratchy voices lol. Tanya Tucker, Janis, and I like Bonnie Tyler.
      I remember that Radiohead roadie…saw it on a video it was terrible.

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  7. Good song that Wishing Well! I can see the Janis comparison, but I think Janis’ voice was more raspy and Maggie Bell’s silky jazz sounding. But I may be mistaken. I didn’t know about that tragic electrocution event. What horror!

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    1. It was such a tragic story…Janis’s voice may be a little more but it depends on what song you are listening to…I think their phrasing is similar.

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      1. She was not played over here at all. She can sing the blues really well.
        I still can’t believe that guy getting electrocuted… in front of the audience and bandmates. That had to stick with them forever.

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      2. I found a Jazz slant to her voice as well as blues. Seems more of aclassical trained and refined voice than Janis. But the comparison in styles is evident.

        Yeh, you would never get over witnessing that. Beyond terrifying.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. She is still singing in her Seventies…and she still has that voice.
        After that show…the manager of Zeppelin and her…Peter Grant….would never allow any of his acts to go on with “Rain or Shine” dates…if it drizzled and they were outside he would pull them off.
        Of course rain had nothing to do with his death…but I don’t blame him.

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  8. Very cool tune. I love Maggie Bell’s voice. And that bassline is really groovy. First time I consciously heard of her. Of course, I know and dig Rod Stewart’s “Every Picture Tells Story”. That’s when he was still a legitimate rocker!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You and I both share love for raspy female singers. They have character…it’s not all about the rasp either….it’s about the feel…and you can feel their hurt.

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  9. Great post! I’m Paul Rodgers fan and wasn’t familiar with this song until the past few years. The bassline definitely grabbed my attention right off the bat. Interesting to hear an even bluesier take on it. (Not everyone seems to be into Bad Company, but I heard one of the guys from Lynyrd Skynyrd on Desert Island Discs once, and he picked a Bad Co song and said he always liked them.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know….I like Bad Company. I think classic radio has absolutely wore them out and that might be part of it. Who would not want to hear Rodgers sing? He is one of those generational singers to me.
      Glad you liked it! Maggie’s voice also is right up my alley.

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