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Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney exchange words on who’s the ‘better’ band — Beatles or Rolling Stones

(L-R) Paul McCartney, formerly of the Beatles, and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones.
(L-R) Paul McCartney, formerly of the Beatles, and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. CP Images Archive

Which band is better: the Beatles or the Stones? It’s an age-old question that’s been dividing passionate music fans all across the globe for years now.

After more than five decades, members of the bands themselves — Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger and former Beatles singer Paul McCartney — have weighed in on the puzzling conundrum.

Their opinions? Exactly what you’d expect.

During a phone interview on SiriusXM’s Howard Stern Show earlier this month, McCartney, 77, was asked his thoughts on the timeless debate.

“I’m not asking you to be pompous about this… the Beatles are better than the Rolling Stones, am I correct?” questioned host Howard Stern.

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McCartney quickly surrendered to the suggestion, acknowledging that regardless of his answer, Stern — notorious for provoking his guests — would somehow manage to persuade him into saying the Beatles are superior.

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“The thing is, the Stones are a fantastic group. I go see them every time they come out, ’cause they’re just a great, great band,” said the Yesterday singer.

McCartney then commended Jagger, 76, for his singing and dance moves, which he is known best for.

It seems Stern, 66, however, got the answer he wanted quicker than he thought.

“There’s a lot of differences and I love the Stones, but I’m with you, the Beatles were better,” said McCartney.

(L-R) Howard Stern and Paul McCartney.
(L-R) Howard Stern and Paul McCartney. CP Images Archive

“I love ’em,” he added. “But they’re just rooted in the blues, whereas we had a little more influences.”

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McCartney then brought up a conversation he once had with Stones guitarist Keith Richards where they compared each other’s bands.

McCartney said Richards, 76, told him, “‘You were lucky, man. You had four singers in your band; we’ve got one.'”

Comparing the artwork of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (May 1967) and the Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request (December 1967), Stern asked McCartney if he ever found it “annoying” that the Stones “copied” them.

“No, it wasn’t,” he responded, before admitting that the Beatles “started to notice” a trend.

Sir Paul McCartney performs live on stage at the O2 Arena during his Freshen Up tour, on Dec. 16, 2018 in London, England.
Sir Paul McCartney performs live on stage at the O2 Arena during his Freshen Up tour, on Dec. 16, 2018 in London, England. Jim Dyson/Getty Images

“Whatever we did, the Stones did it shortly thereafter,” said McCartney. “We went to America and we had huge success, and then the Stones went to America… We did Sgt. Pepper, then the Stones did a psychedelic album,” he said.

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“There was a lot of that, but we were great friends, and still are. We admire each other, it didn’t matter. It was kinda cool. It was like, ‘C’mon, here they go, c’mon, Stones.'”

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Completely unaware of what McCartney had said about the Stones, Mick Jagger told Apple Music’s Beats 1 host Zane Lowe last week that “there’s obviously no competition” when asked about the debate.

The Brown Sugar singer called into the show to promote the Stones’ newest single, Living in a Ghost Town — their first since 2012’s Doom and Gloom — however, it seems Lowe, 46, like Stern, wanted to “stir the pot” on the infamous question.

“I’m trying to tee it up here. This is the clash of the wars we’ve been waiting for,” joked the host.

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“The big difference is that the Rolling Stones have been quite a big concert band in other decades and eras, [whereas] the Beatles never even did an arena tour,” said Jagger.

“They broke up before the touring business even started for real. It didn’t start until the end of the ’60s.”

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Jagger then reflected on the Stones’ first stadium tour in 1969.

“There was your own sound systems, your own stage surface… The Beatles never experienced that.”

The Miss You hit-maker did, however, commend the Beatles for putting on a “great” one-off stadium show when he saw them perform at New York City’s Shea Stadium in 1965.

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones performs onstage at Hard Rock Stadium on Aug. 30, 2019 in Miami, Fla.
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones performs onstage at Hard Rock Stadium on Aug. 30, 2019 in Miami, Fla. Rich Fury/Getty Images

“But the Stones went on and we started doing stadium gigs in the ’70s and are still doing them now,” said Jagger.

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“That’s the real big difference between these two bands: one band is unbelievably [and] luckily still playing in stadiums, and then the other band doesn’t exist.”

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Jagger later pointed his finger towards Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd as other pioneers for touring in the music industry.

After hearing both McCartney’s and Jagger’s takes, many fans might still be wondering, “Beatles or the Stones?” Well, that’s just a matter of opinion.

Rolling Stones rock out in Ontario at what may be their last Canadian performance
Rolling Stones rock out in Ontario at what may be their last Canadian performance

You can hear McCartney’s most recent interview on The Howard Stern Show in full through SiriusXM. It can be streamed for free until May 15.

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Jagger’s Beats 1 interview is currently available via YouTube.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca