Mick Jagger said the biggest difference between the Stones and the Beatles is that "one band is still playing in stadiums and the other doesn't exist"

By Brianne Tracy
Updated April 24, 2020 03:25 PM
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Credit: Fiona Goodall/Getty; Getty

Mick Jagger is making his position known on a longstanding debate among music fans: Beatles or Stones?

On Friday, the 76-year-old Rolling Stones frontman appeared on Apple's New Music Daily on Beats 1, where host Zane Lowe brought up how the Beatles' Paul McCartney said on The Howard Stern Show last week that "the Beatles were better" than the Stones. 

"That's so funny," Jagger told Lowe in response. "[Paul's] a sweetheart. There's obviously no competition. He's a sweetheart."

When Lowe, 46, prompted Jagger to clarify what he meant by "no competition," Jagger called himself a "politician" before explaining that the "big difference" between the two iconic English rock bands "is that  the Rolling Stones have been a big concert band in other decades and other eras when the Beatles never even did an arena tour — Madison Square Garden — with a decent sound system."

"They broke up before that business started, the touring business for real," he said. "It didn't start until the end of the '60s. The first tour like that for us was 1969, so that was real sound, your own sound systems, your own stage, your own stage surface. Touring that around America, going to hockey, basketball arenas, looking all the same size."

"So that business started in 1969, and the Beatles never experienced that, yet they played and did a great gig — I was there — at Shea stadium," he continued. "They did that stadium gig. But the Stones went on. We started doing stadium gigs in the '70s and are still doing them now. That's the real big difference between these two bands: One band is unbelievably, luckily still playing in stadiums and then the other band doesn't exist." 

On Howard Stern's show last week, McCartney, 77, opened up about why he, once John Lennon left the Beatles, decided not to move forward with remaining members George Harrison and Ringo Starr and instead decided to pursue a solo career.

"You know, we’d been through too much, and we were just fed up with the whole thing,” he said.

Jagger was on Apple's New Music Daily to promote the Stones' new song, "Living in a Ghost Town," the band's first original track since 2012. The song was recorded in Los Angeles and completed in London amid the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

"So the Stones were in the studio recording some new material before the lockdown and there was one song we thought would resonate through the times that we’re living in right now," Jagger wrote on Twitter Thursday. We’ve worked on it in isolation. And here it is – It’s called 'Living in a Ghost Town' - I hope you like it.”

While speaking with Lowe, Jagger said he's been the feeling the pressure to put out a new Stones album, which would be their first in 15 years.

"I don't want it to just be a good album, I want it to be great," he said. "So I'm very hard on myself if I write something or do something with Keith [Richards], it's gotta be great ... it can't just be good. We've been recording, and we've got some really great stuff, but don't hold your breath."