The choice is an old one. I like both groups they are two of the greatest rock groups of all time. Keith Richards said without the Beatles there would be no Stones because the Beatles kicked the door in…in America for the Stones to follow. The soul of the two groups were John Lennon and Keith Richards. They were the honest ones…the ones that would tell you how it really was but sometimes offended…but who cares? Keith is “The Human Riff” and has more than earned that name. John also came up with some classic riffs… Day Tripper, I Feel Fine, I Dig a Pony, And Your Bird Can Sing… Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger were the PR of both bands.
George Harrison and Brian Jones were in similar positions… both were in bands with with two great songwriters. George finally broke through with some great songs but Brian’s tenure ended sadly.
The first statement from a Stones fan is…but The Beatles were a pop band and The Stones were a rock band through and through. Not really…. The Stones wrote alot of pop songs like Ruby Tuesday, Waiting on a Friend, Dandelion and We Love You. The Beatles wrote some rock songs Day Tripper, Come Together, Revolution and probably the hardest and raunchiest song of the two groups…Helter Skelter.
The Stones were not above copying the Beatles at times. The most blatant was after Sgt Peppers came out the Stones release Her Majesty’s Request. Take a look at the Beggars Banquet Cover and The White Album covers. Yes the Stones delay in release of that album was over a cover the record company rejected but it was released after the White Album… Let it Be and Let it Bleed…a little too much of a coincidence. Glyn Johns was involved with both albums and it’s been said that the Stones heard Let It Be before it was released. John and Paul even wrote the Stones first hit I Wanna to Be Your Man. It wasn’t a bad thing…most groups followed in the Beatles wake.
Arguably the Stones were much better after the Beatles broke up. They formed their own identity. Unless you like the Brian Jones era more than the Mick Taylor era. Personally I think the Mick Taylor era was superb. I did like the texture that Brian would add to the Stones but with Mick Taylor they were a great rock band. When Taylor quit they lost a lot. Ron Wood looks more like a Stone than Taylor but the group with Wood is not comparable to the Taylor version of the Stones. It’s not just the songwriting…the guitar playing Taylor did with them between 69-74 was great. The Beatles were much more flexible than the Stones…just listen to the White Album. They could bend to any genre better than any band. Popularity is not even comparable between the bands. Mick Jagger has admitted that the Stones were outshone by the Beatles.
It depends on taste but there is not a reason why you can’t like both…but the arguments are fun though. Personally The Beatles are my favorite of the two because they covered much more ground.
My thought on the dynamic of the groups is the Beatles truly loved each other like brothers and when they broke up…it was much more personal and more feelings were involved. The Stones were not as close. Keith and Mick were close for a little while until the drugs set in with Keith. I think that helped them stay together longer. I also thought they treated Bill Wyman terrible like not giving him credit on coming up with the riff on Jumping Jack Flash and he only got one of his songs on an album. John and Paul would write songs for Ringo and early on for even George. I can’t imagine Mick and Keith writing one for Brian…Brian didn’t do himself any favors because of the antics he pulled…but he did start the group and contributed a lot until around 67.
The argument will go on and on between fans of both groups. The images of both are really skewed. Supposedly to Stones fans the Beatles were soft and the Stones were hard men.. The Beatles were from Liverpool, a tough blue collar town and not soft at all. They were not to be messed with at all…After going to Hamburg and carousing with gangs, hit men and mobsters they were far from innocent but the Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham wanted the Stones to be the anti Beatles and it worked great but was far from the truth. The two bands were actually friends and would time their singles to come out at different times as to not compete with each other.
The Beatles live and The Stones live…The Beatles were excellent live but stopped playing live in 1966…one because of the constant screaming and inadequate equipment. The also had the time to devote to make some of the greatest albums ever…When the Stones hit their stride live the equipment improved greatly and the screaming was for the most part over. The Beatles only played live one more time just a few songs on top of their Apple building. This is interesting… both bands early on share a stage with each other and a lot of different acts including the Animals, Them and The Kinks.
The best live band ever? My choice would be neither the Stones or Beatles. That will come later.