It was 52 years ago today (April 14th, 1963) that the Beatles and the Rolling Stones first met. The Beatles, who were new on the scene in London, had heard about the group through word of mouth, and were in the audience at the Stones’ show in Richmond at the Crawdaddy Club at the Station Hotel. Shortly thereafter, George Harrison personally recommended that Decca Records — the same label that had passed on the Beatles — sign a deal with the still-unknown Stones.
In 1988 when Mick Jagger inducted the Beatles into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he recalled first laying eyes on the group while on stage, remembering that, “We were playing a little club in Richmond and I saw right in front of me, there they were — THE FAB FOUR. The four-headed monster. They never went anywhere alone. And they had on the most beautiful long, black leather trench coats.” Jagger joked that, “I thought to myself, ‘If I have to learn to write songs to get one of those, I will.'”
The two bands, which were pegged as being rivals in the rock press, were actually very close. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the Stones’ second single, “I Wanna Be Your Man” — which the Stones chose as their opening number last December at the kick-off of their 50 & Counting shows. Throughout the ’60s, McCartney and Jagger coordinated their record release schedules and staggered their releases, so that they wouldn’t have overlapping hits which would force fans to pick one band over the other.
Keith Richards was an immediate fan and friend of The Beatles. He admits that following manager Andrew Loog Oldham’s brief that the Stones become the opposite of the lovable “Mop Tops” was ingenious and important in separating the Stones from all the other British beat groups that followed in the Beatles wake: “There was no competition between the bands, per se, y’know — but in the greater world, the Beatles were the “Fab Four,” y’know? As I say, that’s wearing the ‘white hat.’ So the only other (laughs) place to go is to wear the ‘black hat’ (laughs), y’know? And at the same time, we were pretty natural, and I think all we really did was, we didn’t ‘showbiz’ ourselves up.”
“Paperback Writer” was not included on Revolver, but released as the group’s spring single. It went on to top the charts for two weeks in the spring and early summer of 1966. It was the only song from their current set of sessions to be included on the 1966 tour, which proved to be their last.
McCartney resurrected the song in 1993 and played it on his New World Tour. It was eventually included on that year’s Paul Is Live album. “Paperback Writer” — now featuring McCartney on lead guitar and including an extended coda — is now in his current concert rotation and featured on the 2009 Good Evening New York City live album.
Photo Courtesy of Apple Corps Ltd.