The two major Rock and Roll groups to emerge in the UK in the early 1960s were The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and both were essential to the development of the music genre. Since the bands had distinct attitudes, styles, and musical preferences much of the time, the fans kept a “rivalry” between them going for decades.
The media made up much of the competition between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in order to spark attention and increase newspaper sales. The Rolling Stones were suggested to Decca Records by The Beatles, although there was some foresight that the two bands would end up competing. The Rolling Stones had their share of hits and scandals even though The Beatles were more well-known and had more UK number-one songs. The Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, who shared his thoughts on The Beatles, especially the late guitarist and vocalist John Lennon, throughout the years, was one of the many members of the two bands who frequently discussed one another.
The members of both British bands were quite close, and The Beatles even assisted the Stones in obtaining their first success and a record deal, despite early attempts by the press and fans to incite some sort of rivalry between the two bands.
The Beatles have previously been named one of the greatest bands of all time by Keith Richards, who is also renowned for being a truthful guy and always offering his honest opinion on other bands. In 2008, Richards and Mick Jagger participated in a project called “Living Legends” with YouTube, in which they answered questions from fans. The guitarist identified the Fab Four as one of the four bands that, in his view, are the finest of all time. He said, “The Beatles, obviously. I mean, I sort of throw them in, obvious.”
Richards had a close friendship with John Lennon, who was a member of the renowned Liverpool band. In a 2004 interview for Ask Keith, a unique series of questions and answers he posted on his website, Richard shared his thoughts on the late Beatle.
He revealed, “I used to hang out with John quite a bit. He was outrageous. I mean, he was just a beautiful spirit, he certainly didn’t deserve that (being killed). I guess the older it gets, the more we are gonna go through of this saying like Gram Parsons, George and John, ‘What the hell am I doing here, you know what I mean?'”
“As I say, the good die young. John, I think he used to come and see me just to be sort of one of The Stones for a night and not be one of The Beatles. Like to get outrageous, you know (laughs). ‘Ok, so you just sleep in front of the toilet, John, and you will be alright!’ It was kind of like that, you know. We were just great mates and he is a free sprit”.
A year prior, he discussed The Beatles on his website as well, recalling how their connection had been in the beginning. He said that they always got along well and that both bands would communicate with one another before releasing new music so that their releases didn’t conflict.
Keith said, “John was a particular good friend of mine. Stories that cannot be told (laughs). George was a lovely guy, we got Paul (a great songwriter) and Ringo, what a guy, what a steady (beat). They came to see us play. We were playing in a pub, at Station Hotel in Richmond, that was our gig.”
“It was the only one we really had. Everybody was having a good time. I turn around and there is these four guys in black leather overcoats standing there. This was soon after ‘Love Me Do’.”
He also added, “I mean this was really early on and this is early 60s. From then on we’re always good mates. When George’s new single (was ready) we always made sure we didn’t clash because in those days was like every two months you had to have a new single.”
“We would collaborate with each other. So we didn’t go head to head, because otherwise it seemed like ‘you’re either Beatles or Stones’, bullshit. And we are so similar, that’s not true. We all recognized that and it was one of the great things about it. I mean, between the two bands there was never any sense of competition, was cooperation.”