Beatles vs. Stones: The '60s Rivalry or PR Stunt?

Beatles vs. Stones By John McMillian Simon & Schuster, 288 pp., $25

"The Beatles want to hold your hand, but the Stones want to burn down your town"

-- Tom Wolfe

It was a simple question, really. But one that said (or supposedly said) a lot about your taste in music, sociological outlook, personality, and even dress: Were you a Beatles fan, or a Stones fan?

Though inherently absurd, the question was something of a musical line of demarcation. Purportedly, to show a preference for the Fabs meant you liked perfectly put-together melodic pop, clean-cut harmonies, and the status quo. To prefer the Glimmer Twins meant you were dangerous, rebellious, and preferred your music with a hard, bluesy edge.

After all, while the Beatles were accepting MBEs from the Queen in their smart suits, Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham (who, ironically, had done some earlier publicity work for the Beatles) was planting attention-grabbing stories in the press about his group's bad-boy behavior, with headlines like "Would You Let Your Daughter Marry a Rolling Stone?"

But such comparisons were fraught with inconsistencies, exaggerations, and PR stunts. In reality, it was the Beatles who had the tougher upbringings and sweaty, leather-clad past in Liverpool while the Stones grew up more posh in the suburbs of London. Mick Jagger went to the London School of Economics, fer chrissakes!

In this dual biography, McMillian (Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America) tells the stories of both bands amid their friendship, rivalries, appreciations, and jealousies with each other, along with how their music, fashion, and images would also influence each other like a back-and-forth game of hot potato.

Resale Concert Tickets

Powered By
powered by Seats For Everyone SEE MORE

  • Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019 / 6:30pm @ House Of Blues - Houston 1204 Caroline St Houston TX 77002
    1204 Caroline St, Houston TX 77002

  • Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019 / 7:00pm @ Jones Hall for the Performing Arts 615 Louisiana St Houston TX 77208
    615 Louisiana St, Houston TX 77208

  • Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019 / 8:00pm @ Revention Music Center 520 Texas Ave. Houston TX 77002
    520 Texas Ave., Houston TX 77002

After all, without Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, there would be no Their Satanic Majesty's Request. And without "Helter Skelter," there might not have been "Brown Sugar." And Allen Klein?

Much of the biographical detail will be familiar to even casual fans of either group. But where McMillian digs deeper is putting the groups and their music in the context of the '60s.

And while it's interesting to ponder how the groups might have continued to exist in each other's orbit had the Beatles' lasted longer (or the Stones less), ultimately, the book champions the thesis that one needn't be either "Beatles" or "Stones" exclusively. You can be both.


The Ask Willie D Archives Top 10 Bars, Clubs & Ice Houses On the Northside Top 10 Bars, Clubs & Ice Houses In the Galleria Area The 10 Lamest Bands of the '90s

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >