Both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones have said that the alleged feud between their bands has been largely fabricated. The individual members get along when they see each other and praise one another’s music. Still, they have swapped insults over the years, proving that their feud isn’t entirely fictional. Here are five times that members of either band have taken shots at the other.
Paul McCartney said The Rolling Stones copied The Beatles
The Beatles and The Rolling Stones rose to prominence in the early 1960s, and Paul McCartney isn’t sure if the Stones would have gotten there without The Beatles’ help. McCartney and John Lennon even brought the song “I Wanna Be Your Man” to the Stones.
“That is the truth,” he said, per Contact Music. “Look at the history: The Beatles go to America, a year later they come too. We wrote their first single (sic), ‘I Wanna Be Your Man.’ We go psychedelic, they go psychedelic. We dress as wizards, they dress as wizards ….”
John Lennon said Mick Jagger was a ‘joke’
Lennon also couldn’t help but insult the other band. While he admitted to liking some of their music, he didn’t think they were a serious group, referring to Jagger as “a joke.” He also shared McCartney’s belief that The Rolling Stones copied The Beatles.
“I would like to just list what we did and what the Stones did two months after on every f***in’ album,” he told Rolling Stone in 1971. “Every f***in’ thing we did, Mick does exactly the same — he imitates us. And I would like one of you f***in’ underground people to point it out, you know Satanic Majesties is Pepper, ‘We Love You,’ it’s the most f***in’ bulls***, that’s ‘All You Need Is Love.’”
He said that even though he admired the group, they would never be on the same level as The Beatles.
“I resent the implication that the Stones are like revolutionaries and that the Beatles weren’t,” he said. “If the Stones were or are, the Beatles really were too. But they are not in the same class, music-wise or power-wise, never were.”
Keith Richards called ‘Sgt. Pepper’ ‘rubbish’
Keith Richards seemed to fire back at Lennon’s assertion that Their Satanic Majesties Request was a ripoff of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He said that The Beatles allowed themselves to get carried away by the hype surrounding them. Richards also didn’t think Sgt. Pepper was very good. To be fair, though, he felt the same about Satanic Majesties.
“No, I understand — the Beatles sounded great when they were the Beatles,” he told Esquire in 2015. “But there’s not a lot of roots in that music. I think they got carried away. Why not? If you’re the Beatles in the ’60s, you just get carried away — you forget what it is you wanted to do. You’re starting to do Sgt. Pepper. Some people think it’s a genius album, but I think it’s a mishmash of rubbish, kind of like Satanic Majesties — ‘Oh, if you can make a load of s***, so can we.’”
Mick Jagger hinted that The Rolling Stones were a better band than The Beatles
When McCartney said The Beatles were a better band than The Rolling Stones, Jagger fired back.
“The big difference, though, is and sort of slightly seriously, is that The Rolling Stones is a big concert band in other decades and other areas when The Beatles never even did an arena tour, Madison Square Garden with a decent sound system,” Jagger told Zane Lowe, per NME. “They broke up before that business started, the touring business for real.”
He pointed to the fact that the Stones, unlike The Beatles, still existed.
“So that business started in 1969 and the Beatles never experienced that. They did a great gig, and I was there, at Shea stadium. They did that stadium gig. But the Stones went on, we started doing stadium gigs in the ’70s and [are] still doing them now,” he said. “That’s the real big difference between these two bands. One band is unbelievably luckily still playing in stadiums and then the other band doesn’t exist.”
Paul McCartney called The Rolling Stones a cover band
In 2021, McCartney kept the so-called feud alive when he said that The Beatles were a more inventive group than The Rolling Stones.
“I’m not sure I should say it, but they’re a blues cover band, that’s sort of what the Stones are,” he told The New Yorker. “I think our net was cast a bit wider than theirs.”