Paul McCartney stoked an old rivalry this week, describing the Rolling Stones as a mere “blues cover band”. “I’m not sure I should say it,” the former Beatle, 79, told The New Yorker. “But… that’s sort of what the Stones are. I think our net was cast a bit wider than theirs.” When McCartney said something similar last year – claiming the Beatles were a “better” band – Mick Jagger gave a withering response: “That’s so funny. He’s a sweetheart. There’s obviously no competition… One band is unbelievably luckily still playing in stadiums, and then the other band doesn’t exist.” That may be the case, but the Fab Four are far from forgotten – the recording sessions for their 1970 album Let It Be are the subject of a mammoth six-hour documentary, Get Back, the first part of which will be released on Disney+ next month.
The point-scoring goes back 60 years, says Ray Connolly in the Daily Mail. The first big hit for the Stones, 1963’s I Wanna Be Your Man, was a leftover Lennon and McCartney song. Yet the prim early Beatles – “washed every day like Brigitte Bardot”, according to their publicist – envied the louche Stones. The envy was reciprocal. When Jagger and co tried to ape Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with Their Satanic Majesties Request, it was “a psychedelic mess” and flopped.
In money terms, there’s no contest: McCartney is worth £820m, according to The Sunday Times Rich List, more than double Jagger’s £310m. But both are penny-pinchers. In 2001 McCartney threw a birthday party for his then wife, Heather Mills, but made guests pay for their own drinks. Jagger’s daughter, Georgia May, says her father stomps around the house turning off the lights, complaining about extravagance.