The Beatles vs The Rolling Stones

The Beatles were the spearhead of the British Invasion, and paved the way for the music of all the other English bands to follow, chief of which were the Rolling Stones…. The Beatles, as we all know, were the loveable shaggy mop tops who captured America’s heart in the mid 1960’s 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 it’s own distinctive artsy decorative album cover..I have already written a very well received blog here on Word Press: “The Impact Of the Beatles on American Culture” detailing just how they succeeded, how they were in exactly the right place at exactly the right time….

While 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, there was a darker undercurrent in the background… …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 near irresistible innocence and clean, virtuous image the Beatles projected….



American mothers grudgingly accepted the Beatles as no real threat to their daughters virtue, even though they disliked what was considered 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 club and bars and dives of Hamburg for many years, and 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 manager and financial backer, who was the genius who had the brilliant marketing concept to “package” the Beatles for maximum American consumption….It was his idea and vision to dress them up in their natty, matching fashion conscious suits, who carefully and meticulously groomed them for maximum acceptance by the 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…


Two girls attending the Beatles concert in Philadelphia, USA on August 16, 1966, display mixed emotions as the band performed before a crowd of about 21,000 people. Barricades were erected about 150 feet from the stage and police kept the lively set under control with an occasional fan trying to climb the barricades. (AP Photo)stones1

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, than the unified harmonic group the Beatles projected…They 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 the teasing, ambiguous sexually provocative image as the voice and image of the Stones…. Mincing and prancing and teasing and playing with his microphone on stage 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 be more like him…

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, the solid rhythm section of Bill Wyman on bass and Charlie Watts on drums all blended together to form a dark, driving, pounding kind of music, like in 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,” still today a rock anthem…



D 30908-08 The Rolling Stones. Obligatory Credit - CAMERA PRESS/Peter Shillingford. SPECIAL PRICE APPLIES - CONSULT CAMERA PRESS OR ITS LOCAL AGENT. British blues rockers The Rolling Stones, pictured in 1968. The Stones had pioneered the gritty, hard-driving blues-based rock & roll that came to define hard rock in the late 60's. With classic tunes such as 'Like a Rolling Stone', 'Ruby Tuesday' and 'You Got Me Rocking', the Stones continued to perform for another three decades, experimenting musically yet never losing sight of their blues influences. The Rolling Stones are still going strong, having embarked on their greatest hits sold-out 'Forty Licks World Tour' in 2003.*** USA ONLY *** Credit: Peter Shillingford/Camera Press/Retna

Members of the British rock band the Rolling Stones pose in Paris, 28 March 1966. Right to Left: Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. (Photo credit should read STAFF/AFP/Getty Images)

It was their breakthrough hit and the song that propelled them to international prominence… Written by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, like all 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, 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 1980’s…They were the punks of the 1960’s and they just didn’t give a damn if you liked them or not, and of course the young people loved them…..They carried this same defiant attitude though out the disco inferno burnout of the 1970’s as well….



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



As the 1960’s 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 giving the Beatles a good run for their money….Evolving with the times, the Beatles were producing ever more introspective songs 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 after the other, smash hit, best selling albums….

They literally gushed out of the Beatles Lennon/McCartney song writing team, albums like “Hard Day’s Night,” “Help,” “Revolver, ” and as they turned into more of a studio band, “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heats Club Band,” “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Abbey Road,” “The White Album,” and their 12th and final album “Let It Be”…There were also countless releases of re mixed 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 true believers anytime they chose to tour…

My favorite Stones album ever was “Beggar’s Banquet” from the radical medieval feast album cover design to the great songs…It was also ironically the last Stones album Brian Jones was 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….



Keith Richards leaning on Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones on stage at MSG, NYC. June 22, 1975. © Bob Gruen / Please contact Bob Gruen's studio to purchase a print or license this photo. email: phone: 212-691-0391stones33

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 life style and have not only put out an amazing 29 studio albums and countless compilations of live music and compilation albums, they are still intact and still touring after 51 years!

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 and shocked, rocked and changed America and the entire world from the 1960’s to the present day!

Just leave it like it is right now

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