Mick Jagger and Keith Richards recently talked about being “envious” of the legendary The Beatles early in their career when the latter band was putting out singles and records of all-original material.
Keith Richards and Mick Jagger opens up on The Beatles
Prior to the time when The Rolling Stones released their self-titled debut album in 1964, Mick Jagger & Co. already had the reputation of being one of the hottest blues bands in London. However, the landscape shifted magnificently in the early ’60s music industry and playing covers wasn’t good enough for super-stardom, especially given the massive success The Beatles had tasted by creating music of their own.
The first couple of Rolling Stones records mostly included covers of established rock and blues artists, partly due to the original bandleader and guitarist Brian Jones’s reluctance to move away from the band’s blues origins.
Speaking in Keith Richards’s episode of the new BBC documentary “My Life as a Rolling Stone”, Jagger and Richards admitted how witnessing Paul McCartney & Co. releasing their own music and being rewarded for it made them think about why they weren’t doing so as well. Keith Richards said (via Express):
“We were working the clubs in London and The Beatles just came out and had a hit, ‘Love Me Do’. And we said, ‘Oh man, what a great record.'”
Mick Jagger stated:
“The Beatles suddenly explode and there you are going, ‘Oh, yeah. But we’re a blues band. The Beatles changed this whole thing.”
“Our job was to be like the premier rhythm and blues band in London and we managed that! But we had no idea of progressing beyond that stage… We were just envious, too, man, y’know? I mean, they’re doing what we want, y’know, they got it. They could make records. The Holy Grail was to make records, to be able to get into a studio. It was like diamonds. Y’know, you’d think it was a gold mine, which in a way it was, y’know what I mean? But you’d think you were invading Fort Knox just to make a record.”
Mick Jagger concluded, looking back on Keith Richards’s developing Beatles “obsession”:
“Keith, he’d play The Beatles all the time. It’d drive me absolutely batty! And why he was playing The Beatles wasn’t because he didn’t want to listen to anything else. Keith wanted to write these pop songs cos we’re undeniably the blues band. But we knew we had to be a pop band.”