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The Beatles Vs The Rolling Stones

by John Whye 12 days ago in bands
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Who Is Your Personal Favorite?

The Beatles Vs The Rolling Stones
Photo by Vale Arellano on Unsplash

The Beatles were the spearhead of the British Invasion and paved the way for the music of all the other English bands to follow. Their top rivals were the Rolling Stones. The Beatles, as we all know, were the loveable shaggy mop tops who captured America’s heart in the mid-1960s and beyond with their clean-cut, bouncy, irresistible pop rhythm songs.

They churned out hit after hit, and young Americans lined up at the record stores to snap up each new album as it arrived, freshly minted in its own distinctive artsy decorative album cover.

I have already written a blog here on Vocal: “The Impact Of the Beatles on American Culture” detailing just how they succeeded, and how they were in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

The Beatles were the spearhead of the British Invasion, the unquestioned leaders who opened the door for wave after wave of British bands, many of them just knockoff copy bands. But there was also a darker undercurrent lurking in the background of the English music scene.

The Rolling Stones were in many ways the anti-Beatles. They were scruffy, arrogant, sultry, raunchy, down and dirty, and sexually provocative, as opposed to the nearly irresistible innocence and clean, virtuous image the Beatles projected.

American mothers grudgingly accepted the Beatles as no real threat to their daughter’s virtue, even though they disliked what was considered back then their extremely long hair. But they hated the lurking, smirking, bad boy, lustful, boasting, bragging, and strutting image the Rolling Stones projected.

Which in a way, looking back, was laughable. The Beatles and the Stones were back then and even today all good friends and the Beatles honed their craft in the harsh environment of the German strip clubs and bars and dives of Hamburg for many years. They were just as arrogant, provocative, and scruffy as the Rolling Stones ever were in their formative German years.

The difference is that, right before their ultimate, incandescent breakthrough in America, the Beatles had their act cleaned up by their then manager, Brian Epstein. It was Brian Epstein, their combination manager and financial backer, who was the marketing genius who had the brilliant concept to “package” the Beatles for mainstream American consumption.

It was his idea and vision to dress them up in their natty, matching fashion-conscious suits. Epstein carefully and meticulously groomed them for maximum acceptance by American audiences, and it worked better than anybody could have thought. Americans were wowed by Beatlemania, and it changed the musical world and actually, eventually, the world in general.

When the Rolling Stones first burst upon the scene, their image was the exact opposite of the Beatles. They were a more traditional band, with a lead singer, and backup musicians. This was different than the unified harmonic group the Beatles projected. The Stones were definitely the “bad boys” type, they were rough and tough and raunchy, and the girls swooned over them and the guys wanted to be tough like them.

Mick Jagger was and still is a superb dancer and lead singer, and he projected his teasing, sexually ambiguous provocative image as the voice and frontman for the Stones. Mincing and prancing and strutting and playing with his microphone on center stage as the focal point of the band, Mick drove the girls crazy as a sex symbol and inspired the guys in the musical audience to want to be more like him. To get the girls’ attention.

The inimitable solid, gritty lead guitar riffs and power chords of Keith Richards, the inspirational and brilliant Brian Jones on rhythm guitar, keyboards, and harmonica, and the solid rhythm section of Bill Wyman on bass and Charlie Watts on drums all blended together to form a dark, driving, pounding style of music.

Like their first big song, released as a single in 1965 that really established the Stones as a major band, “ I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” which is still a rock anthem today. It was their breakthrough hit and the song that propelled them to international prominence and stardom. Written by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, like almost all of the Stones’ songs, the Stones were officially recognized now and forever after as an angry band!

They were rebellious, edgy, anti-establishment, defiant, and proud of it. Like it or not, take it or leave it, and all of their fans wanted more of it.

They were extreme, they were crude, they were lewd, they were profane, and the young people loved them for it! The slashing “19th Nervous Breakdown” or the driving pounding “It’s All Over Now” also expressed and addressed the frustration and angst many young people felt at the time.

In a sense, they predated the punk rock movement of the mid-1970s and 1980s. They were the punks of the 1960s and they just didn’t give a damn if you liked them or not, and of course, the young people loved them for it. They carried this same defiant attitude throughout the disco inferno burnout of the 1970s as well.

The Rolling Stones also idolized American black blues singers and guitarists like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and Willie Dixon. They played many American blues and r & b songs as cover hits, like “Route 66,” “King Bee,” “I Just Wanna Make Love To You,” “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,” and “Mona.” These were all catchy, hard-driving blues songs speeded up and delivered with the high-energy rock and roll sound the Stones had mastered.

As the 1960s progressed, the rolling Stones became the clear 2nd choice of many American fans, and although the Beatles always retained their lofty perch at the top of the charts, the Rolling Stones were right up there too, neck and neck and giving the Beatles a good run for their money.

Evolving with the times, the Beatles were producing ever more introspective albums like the breakthrough Rubber Soul, with classic poignant songs like “Nowhere Man,” “Norwegian Wood,” “Michelle,” “In My Life” and “I’m Looking Through You” while still retaining their pop sensibilities with catchy pop tunes like “Baby You Can Drive My Car,” and the jealous “Run For Your Life.”

After the breakthrough release of the single “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and instant pop classics like “She Loves You,” and “I Saw Her Standing There” “From Me To You” the hits just kept coming. From the very first Beatles album, “Meet the Beatles,” in no particular order came one smash hit after the other, all best-selling singles and albums.

They literally gushed out of the Beatles Lennon/McCartney songwriting team, albums like “Hard Day’s Night,” “Help,” and “Revolver. ” As they turned into more of a studio band, “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Abbey Road,” “The White Album,” and their 12th and final album “Let It Be” were all top-selling albums.

There were also countless releases of remixed and altered albums, but there is no arguing the fact the Beatles left a prodigious amount of music for their always adoring fans.

The Stones traveled a different route, always being rebellious, billing themselves as “The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” and turning out smash hits themselves like “Time Is On My Side,” “Heart of Stone,” “Get Off Of My Cloud,” Play With Fire” with an occasional sentimental song like “As Tears Go By.” The Stones, like the Beatles, always played to packed houses full of delirious, adoring fans and true believers anytime they chose to tour.

My favorite Stones album ever was “Beggar’s Banquet,” from the radical medieval feast album cover art design to the great songs inside. It was also ironically the last Stones album Brian Jones played on before his mysterious and untimely death at the age of 27.

From the classic “Sympathy For The Devil,” the raw, poignant intensity of “Jig Saw Puzzle,” the rowdy “Street Fighting Man,” the very provocative “Stray Cat Blues” to the whimsical “Dear Doctor” this album covered the whole gamut of rock music.

As we all know, the Beatles basically retired after “Let It Be” and there are only two survivors, Ringo Star and Paul McCartney still alive. McCartney particularly has had great commercial success with his band “Wings” and other releases over the years and until the present.

The Stones miraculously have survived their frantic death-defying, burn it up, tear it down, destructive rock and roll lifestyle, and have not only put out an amazing 30 studio albums and countless compilations of live music and compilation albums, but they are also still intact and still touring some 50 years later!

However you want to look at it, whoever you like the best, (I personally love them both) The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were the best and the brightest of the bands that comprised the original British Invasion of music that shocked, rocked, and changed America and the entire world from the 1960s to the present day.

It's Up to You, Pick Your Favorite Band!

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About the author

John Whye

Retired hippie blogger, Bay Area sports enthusiast, Pisces, music lover, songwriter...

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Comments (7)

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  • Muhammad Naeemabout 11 hours ago

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  • R M Matthew12 days ago

    What The Beatles produced in such a short space of time puts them above The Stones for me.

  • Mona Lazar12 days ago

    It's The Stones for me. I don't even like The Beatles, but don't tell anyone. Apparently, that's a crime against music 😂

  • Kendall Defoe12 days ago

    The Beatles were more subversive because everyone thought of them as just a lovable quartet; the fabulous Fab Four. They were the Trojan Horse that allowed all those other groups to swarm in and show their rebelliousness. I still love the Rolling Stones, but I give credit where it is due. #BeatlesForever

  • Ellie Scott12 days ago

    Great article! It's the Stones for me but I think that's mainly because my dad loved them and I grew up being assured by him that they were better than the Beatles... it would feel like a betrayal to change my tune now!

  • Dan Gee12 days ago

    I've only just "got" the Beatles. But while I appreciate the Stones, there's just not as many songs that I'll dig into. Obviously appreciate the impact but gimme one and it's Beatles.

  • Wow. Amazing! I'm a die-hard Beatles fan and always will be! :)

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