Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham had worked with Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Together they had helped shape the Liverpudlians’ image, but Epstein fired Oldham after an argument. “We were the instrument of [Oldham’s] revenge on Epstein,” Keith Richards wrote in his autobiography Life.
Oldham didn’t understand right away. He tried to beat the Beatles at their own game by putting the Stones in costumes similar to those of the Fab Four. But the band hated them, so they took the opposite route: being the anti-Beatles. The credo, Richards said, was to “do it all wrong, at least from a showbiz, Fleet Street perspective.” As the guitarist said of the Stones’ own image, “You got the Beatles, moms love them and dads love them, but would you let your daughter marry that?” The Stones cultivated a ragged look, never smiling in photos, never dressing the same and never getting haircuts to match.
Then there was the music itself. In a 2015 interview with Esquire magazine, Richards called Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album “a hodgepodge of garbage” and argued that there were “not many roots” in the music. band music, which he and his bandmates considered more vaudevillian. . In 2021 — in an indication of how the rivalry still plays out — McCartney dubbed the Stones “a blues cover band.” He told The New Yorker that “our net was a little wider than theirs” when it came to music.
The Beatles also regularly complained that the Stones copied them. Being slightly behind the career curve meant the Stones could observe and then emulate the success of the Beatles, the argument goes. In a 1970 Rolling Stone interview, a clearly annoyed John Lennon accused Jagger and the boys of regularly doing what the Beatles had just done. He was particularly scathing about the Stones’ psychedelic 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request, which was released shortly after Sgt Pepper.
“I just want to list what we’ve done and what the Stones have done two months later on every f—— album. Every fucking thing we’ve done, Mick does the exact same thing – he imitates us … Satanic Majesties is Pepper,” Lennon said. He added that the Stones were “not in the same class, musically or powerfully” as the Beatles. In the track Let it Be Dig A Pony, Lennon seems to refer to “I roll a stoney / Well you can impersonate everybody you know,” he sang.
For his part, Jagger once complained that the Beatles were too willing to give their fans running commentary on their career. When the group ran into money troubles at their Apple business in 1969, Jagger told Village Voice reporter Howard Smith that they shared too much. “They go public with everything they do,” Jagger said. “They always – that’s their big problem.” The Stones singer also lambasted his rivals for the meanness that characterized their breakup. When asked if the Stones would ever break up, Jagger replied, “No. But if we did, we wouldn’t be so bitchy about it.