As Macca dismisses the Stones as 'a cover band', RAY CONNOLLY on why it's ...

As Macca dismisses the Stones as 'a cover band', RAY CONNOLLY on why it's ...
As Macca dismisses the Stones as 'a cover band', RAY CONNOLLY on why it's ...

Can you imagine it? Over half a century and hundreds of millions of pounds later, and now both knights of the realm, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger still can’t resist scoring points off each other.

‘I’m not sure I should say it,’ Sir Paul jibed this week in an interview in The New Yorker, but the Rolling Stones were ‘a blues cover band. That’s sort of what the Stones are. I think our [The Beatles’] net was cast a bit wider than theirs.’

Sir Mick has yet to respond, but earlier this year, after Paul claimed in a radio interview in the U.S. that ‘The Beatles were better [than the Stones]’ and that the Stones envied them because all four Beatles could sing, Jagger did hit back.

‘That’s so funny. He’s a sweetheart,’ he said of Paul. ‘There is obviously no competition . . . One band is unbelievably lucky to be still playing in stadiums, and the other band doesn’t exist.’

Miaow!

Of course, they’re both right . . . to an extent.

¿I¿m not sure I should say it,¿ Sir Paul McCartney (pictured during Paris Fashion Week in March 2016) jibed this week in an interview in The New Yorker, but the Rolling Stones were ¿a blues cover band. That¿s sort of what the Stones are'

‘I’m not sure I should say it,’ Sir Paul McCartney (pictured during Paris Fashion Week in March 2016) jibed this week in an interview in The New Yorker, but the Rolling Stones were ‘a blues cover band. That’s sort of what the Stones are'

Sir Mick (pictured in September 2019) has yet to respond, but earlier this year, after Paul claimed in a radio interview in the U.S. that ¿The Beatles were better [than the Stones]¿ and that the Stones envied them because all four Beatles could sing, Jagger did hit back

Sir Mick (pictured in September 2019) has yet to respond, but earlier this year, after Paul claimed in a radio interview in the U.S. that ‘The Beatles were better [than the Stones]’ and that the Stones envied them because all four Beatles could sing, Jagger did hit back

The Beatles did break up more than 50 years ago and the Stones are going strong, back on tour in America with a new drummer to replace Charlie Watts who died in August.

But the origins of both bands, though similar, had important differences. Before any of us had heard of either of them, they started out — like almost every other band in history — by emulating their heroes’ records.

So, they each did Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly songs — but while The Beatles also ventured as far as the Spanish romantic classic Besame Mucho, or the Sophie Tucker hit Till There Was You, and had a penchant for the records by the American all-girl group The Shirelles, the Stones were purists, sticking closely to the R&B classics of Little Walter and Muddy Waters.

It was a style that would lead them to develop their own biggest hits, all built around wonderful guitar licks — think only of The Last Time, Satisfaction and Honky Tonk Women.

But there was something else. Lennon and McCartney had seen themselves as songwriters since they had been boys, nipping off school to sit in the McCartneys’ kitchen eating toast and writing songs together, head to head.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards never had that early ambition. Indeed it wasn’t until their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, noted that the big money in rock was to be made from song publishing that they even considered it.

According to Stones’ legend, Oldham then locked the pair of them in a room and told them not to come out until they’d written something. The result was As Tears Go By, which became a hit for Marianne Faithfull, as she became Jagger’s girlfriend.

The Rolling Stones probably were, as they boasted, the best rock’n’roll band in the world, but they never wrote anything as musically accomplished as The Beatles’ Penny Lane or Eleanor Rigby.

The two groups first met after The Beatles had seen the Stones (pictured in 1964) at a small club in Richmond, South-West London, in 1963

The two groups first met after The Beatles had seen the Stones (pictured in 1964) at a small club in Richmond, South-West London, in 1963 

And, when they tried to copy The Beatles’ druggy, variety show of an album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, with Their Satanic Majesties Request it was a psychedelic mess, with, let’s face it, only one memorable song: She’s A Rainbow. They went back to rock’n’roll for their next album and got on with their careers. A wise choice.

Mick Jagger might claim now that the two groups weren’t in competition. In fact, each time they released a record they would check with each other precisely so as not to compete in the charts. That was about maximising their own sales, of course.

But, like a pair of small football clubs in the same town (and pop music in the 1960s was very much a cottage industry centred in London), it was natural that there was a rivalry between them — which was also inevitably exaggerated by the teenage music papers at the time.

There were the Stones, purposely fashioned as an unsmiling band of outlaws, with Jagger grimacing, gurning, skipping and jerking in stark visual contrast to The Beatles, who just stood and sang and played with their neat little office-boy suits and shiny hair: ‘Washed every day,’ said their publicist, ‘just like Brigitte Bardot.’

The two groups first met after The Beatles had seen the Stones at a small club in Richmond, South-West London, in 1963.

Then, a few months later, Lennon and McCartney accidentally bumped into worried Stones manager, Loog Oldham, in London. The Stones were doing a recording session just around the corner, they were told, but didn’t have any songs that sounded like a hit. 

Each time the two bands released a record they would check with each other precisely so as not to compete in the charts (pictured: The Beatles in 1963)

Each time the two bands released a record they would check with each other precisely so as not to compete in the charts (pictured: The Beatles in 1963)

Well, the two Beatles soon fixed that. Going back with Loog Oldham to the recording session, they immediately offered the Stones a throwaway song they hadn’t much liked.

It was called I Wanna Be Your Man. And that was how the Rolling Stones got their first big hit — with a helping hand from The Beatles’ offcuts.

Of course, from then on, the two bands scrutinised each other’s progress — John Lennon always envious because the Stones turned up on stage in whatever they felt like wearing, whereas manager Brian Epstein liked The Beatles to wear a kind of ‘business uniform’ for performances.

Inevitably, the bands became friends, with, perhaps, a little bit of jealousy on The Beatles’ side that some of the Stones could live a more louche 1960s lifestyle than they — with their greater fame, establishment approval and solid provincial attitudes — could allow themselves.

Lennon was later very amused when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards spent a night in jail for drug possession. And he was even more amused when he told me that ‘Mick wears a codpiece in his pants when he goes on stage’.

Whether or not that was true, I don’t know. Lennon probably didn’t know either. But it amused him to tell me, giving him a little victory.

…and from their waistlines to their wallets, who gets the satisfaction of being winner?

By Alison Boshoff for the Daily Mail

A WEIGH WE GO IN THE LIVES OF TWO TRIM ROCK LEGENDS

Jagger is famously slender and, at 5 ft 10 in, is said to weigh just 10 st. His jeans waist measurement is a slim 28 in. McCartney is rather more average, although still trim. He is said to weigh 13 st 7 lb with a 32 in waist and stands 5 ft 11 in tall.

HEART FLUTTERS AND HEADING TOWARDS 80 . . . BUT I FEEL FINE

Macca, 79, has recently had a hearing aid fitted. During an interview with the New Yorker magazine, the device sprang out of his ear before he re‑inserted it. While it’s not known if Jagger, 78, also wears one, he has actively participated in campaigns that raise awareness of hearing impairment.

Both men have had surgery for heart problems. During his divorce from Heather Mills in 2008, Macca had an angioplasty, where surgeons pass a fine tube into the aorta, inflate a balloon and leave a short wire mesh tube to prop the artery open.

Jagger had surgery on his heart in April 2019 and was back on stage two months later. He underwent a

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