When The Beatles first hit mainstream success exactly sixty years ago, the Liverpool legends’ brand of rock and roll swept through the music industry and the world. The Fab Four’s tight-knit guitars and catchy songs catapulted them to the top of the charts, and before long they had a number of competitors in the industry who were looking to take them on. Their biggest and best-known rivals were The Rolling Stones, who were also looking to make their own mark on the music industry. The London lads had a bone to pick with the northerners who were beating them at every turn.
Often The Rolling Stones looked upon The Beatles as their friendly rivals on the charts – and vice versa. John Lennon famously called Jagger a “joke” while referring to his outrageous on-stage dancing. He said Jagger was simply “jealous” of the band’s success.
He explained in 1970: “He’s obviously so upset by how big the Beatles are compared with him; he never got over it. Now he’s in his old age, and he is beginning to knock us, you know, and he keeps knocking. I resent it because even his second f*****g record we wrote it for him.”
In 1987 Jagger said it was a “good idea” for The Beatles to split in 1970. He said: “It’s ridiculous. No one should care if The Rolling Stones have broken up, should they? I mean, when The Beatles broke up I couldn’t give a s**t. [I] thought it was a very good idea.”
Everything changed for the Stones’ singer, Mick Jagger, this week in 1962, on October 5, when The Beatles released their second-ever single: Love Me Do.
Jagger recalled being stunned by the band’s song when he inducted them into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and eventually, he simply could not believe how talented they were.
“We were doin’ Chuck Berry songs and blues and things,” Jagger told the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame audience. “And we thought that we were totally unique animals. And then we heard there was a group from Liverpool, and they had long hair and scruffy clothes.”
He then alluded to being powerfully envious of the band’s success. He continued: “They had a record contract. And they had a record on the charts, with a bluesy harmonica on it, called Love Me Do. When I heard the combination of all these things, I was almost sick.”
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It’s no wonder Jagger was so jealous, considering the niche rock band managed to reach number four in the British Singles Charts. Meanwhile, around the world, it hit number one in New Zealand, Australia and America.
What’s more, the bands made some scathing comments about one another in the press throughout the years.
Back in the 1960s, however, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles kickstarted a friendship that continued to last decades – and has been mutually beneficial for the artists ever since.
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In fact, The Beatles started giving away song content to help the Stones out. Eventually, one of the songs gifted to Jagger catapulted his band into stardom.
The Beatles’ primary songwriters Paul McCartney and Lennon wrote I Wanna Be Your Man for The Rolling Stones a year later in 1963. The song was the band’s first-ever top-20 hit in the UK, reaching number 12. It has become known as the Stones’ first breakout hit of their career.
Years later, Jagger recalled the moment he was gifted the song. He said: “We knew [The Beatles] by then and we were rehearsing and Andrew brought Paul and John down to the rehearsal. They said they had this tune, they were really hustlers then. I mean, the way they used to hustle tunes was great.”
79-year-old Jagger recalled Lennon and McCartney saying: “Hey Mick, we’ve got this great song for you.”
“So they played it,” he said. “And we thought it sounded pretty commercial – which is what we were looking for – so we did it like Elmore James or something.”
The singer noted how the song was “pretty freaky” because “nobody really produced it”. He continued: “It was completely crackers. But it was a hit and sounded great onstage.”