RAY CONNOLLY: When will Macca let it be with Mick?

When will Macca let it be with Mick? As the Beatle dismisses the Rolling Stones as ‘a cover band’, RAY CONNOLLY on why it’s the latest chapter in one of rock’s greatest rivalries

  • Sir Paul said Rolling Stones were a ‘a blues cover band’ in an interview this week
  • Earlier this year, after Paul claimed the Beatles were better, Jagger did hit back
  • Two groups first met after The Beatles had seen the Stones at small club in 1963
  • Like a pair of small football clubs in same town, it was natural there was a rivalry

Can you imagine it? Over half a century and hundreds of millions of pounds later, and now both knights of the realm, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger still can’t resist scoring points off each other.

‘I’m not sure I should say it,’ Sir Paul jibed this week in an interview in The New Yorker, but the Rolling Stones were ‘a blues cover band. That’s sort of what the Stones are. I think our [The Beatles’] net was cast a bit wider than theirs.’

Sir Mick has yet to respond, but earlier this year, after Paul claimed in a radio interview in the U.S. that ‘The Beatles were better [than the Stones]’ and that the Stones envied them because all four Beatles could sing, Jagger did hit back.

‘That’s so funny. He’s a sweetheart,’ he said of Paul. ‘There is obviously no competition . . . One band is unbelievably lucky to be still playing in stadiums, and the other band doesn’t exist.’


Of course, they’re both right . . . to an extent.

‘I’m not sure I should say it,’ Sir Paul McCartney (pictured during Paris Fashion Week in March 2016) jibed this week in an interview in The New Yorker, but the Rolling Stones were ‘a blues cover band. That’s sort of what the Stones are’

Sir Mick (pictured in September 2019) has yet to respond, but earlier this year, after Paul claimed in a radio interview in the U.S. that ‘The Beatles were better [than the Stones]’ and that the Stones envied them because all four Beatles could sing, Jagger did hit back

The Beatles did break up more than 50 years ago and the Stones are going strong, back on tour in America with a new drummer to replace Charlie Watts who died in August.

But the origins of both bands, though similar, had important differences. Before any of us had heard of either of them, they started out — like almost every other band in history — by emulating their heroes’ records.

So, they each did Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly songs — but while The Beatles also ventured as far as the Spanish romantic classic Besame Mucho, or the Sophie Tucker hit Till There Was You, and had a penchant for the records by the American all-girl group The Shirelles, the Stones were purists, sticking closely to the R&B classics of Little Walter and Muddy Waters.

It was a style that would lead them to develop their own biggest hits, all built around wonderful guitar licks — think only of The Last Time, Satisfaction and Honky Tonk Women.

But there was something else. Lennon and McCartney had seen themselves as songwriters since they had been boys, nipping off school to sit in the McCartneys’ kitchen eating toast and writing songs together, head to head.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards never had that early ambition. Indeed it wasn’t until their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, noted that the big money in rock was to be made from song publishing that they even considered it.

According to Stones’ legend, Oldham then locked the pair of them in a room and told them not to come out until they’d written something. The result was As Tears Go By, which became a hit for Marianne Faithfull, as she became Jagger’s girlfriend.

The Rolling Stones probably were, as they boasted, the best rock’n’roll band in the world, but they never wrote anything as musically accomplished as The Beatles’ Penny Lane or Eleanor Rigby.

The two groups first met after The Beatles had seen the Stones (pictured in 1964) at a small club in Richmond, South-West London, in 1963 

And, when they tried to copy The Beatles’ druggy, variety show of an album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, with Their Satanic Majesties Request it was a psychedelic mess, with, let’s face it, only one memorable song: She’s A Rainbow. They went back to rock’n’roll for their next album and got on with their careers. A wise choice.

Mick Jagger might claim now that the two groups weren’t in competition. In fact, each time they released a record they would check with each other precisely so as not to compete in the charts. That was about maximising their own sales, of course.

But, like a pair of small football clubs in the same town (and pop music in the 1960s was very much a cottage industry centred in London), it was natural that there was a rivalry between them — which was also inevitably exaggerated by the teenage music papers at the time.

There were the Stones, purposely fashioned as an unsmiling band of outlaws, with Jagger grimacing, gurning, skipping and jerking in stark visual contrast to The Beatles, who just stood and sang and played with their neat little office-boy suits and shiny hair: ‘Washed every day,’ said their publicist, ‘just like Brigitte Bardot.’

The two groups first met after The Beatles had seen the Stones at a small club in Richmond, South-West London, in 1963.

Then, a few months later, Lennon and McCartney accidentally bumped into worried Stones manager, Loog Oldham, in London. The Stones were doing a recording session just around the corner, they were told, but didn’t have any songs that sounded like a hit. 

Each time the two bands released a record they would check with each other precisely so as not to compete in the charts (pictured: The Beatles in 1963)

Well, the two Beatles soon fixed that. Going back with Loog Oldham to the recording session, they immediately offered the Stones a throwaway song they hadn’t much liked.

It was called I Wanna Be Your Man. And that was how the Rolling Stones got their first big hit — with a helping hand from The Beatles’ offcuts.

Of course, from then on, the two bands scrutinised each other’s progress — John Lennon always envious because the Stones turned up on stage in whatever they felt like wearing, whereas manager Brian Epstein liked The Beatles to wear a kind of ‘business uniform’ for performances.

Inevitably, the bands became friends, with, perhaps, a little bit of jealousy on The Beatles’ side that some of the Stones could live a more louche 1960s lifestyle than they — with their greater fame, establishment approval and solid provincial attitudes — could allow themselves.

Lennon was later very amused when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards spent a night in jail for drug possession. And he was even more amused when he told me that ‘Mick wears a codpiece in his pants when he goes on stage’.

Whether or not that was true, I don’t know. Lennon probably didn’t know either. But it amused him to tell me, giving him a little victory.

…and from their waistlines to their wallets, who gets the satisfaction of being winner?

By Alison Boshoff for the Daily Mail


Jagger is famously slender and, at 5 ft 10 in, is said to weigh just 10 st. His jeans waist measurement is a slim 28 in. McCartney is rather more average, although still trim. He is said to weigh 13 st 7 lb with a 32 in waist and stands 5 ft 11 in tall.


Macca, 79, has recently had a hearing aid fitted. During an interview with the New Yorker magazine, the device sprang out of his ear before he re‑inserted it. While it’s not known if Jagger, 78, also wears one, he has actively participated in campaigns that raise awareness of hearing impairment.

Both men have had surgery for heart problems. During his divorce from Heather Mills in 2008, Macca had an angioplasty, where surgeons pass a fine tube into the aorta, inflate a balloon and leave a short wire mesh tube to prop the artery open.

Jagger had surgery on his heart in April 2019 and was back on stage two months later. He underwent a minimally invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement in New York.

To dye or not to dye? It’s a grey area

Jagger’s chestnut mullet is quite a conundrum. Nobody admits to styling or dyeing it.

Some assert that he is visited once a fortnight by a personal technician who keeps the grey at bay. Others say he is wearing a rather brilliant wig.

McCartney was a great fan of hair dye and said he started using it relatively young, during his marriage to Linda. He’s now allowed himself to go grey.


The Stones singer has long been a health nut, much in the mould of his father Joe, a PE teacher and athletics enthusiast, who lived to be 93.

Sex, sleep and ballet all play a part and he’s said to exercise for three hours a day, six days a week. He has a Norwegian personal trainer, Torke Eike, who has looked after him for nearly 30 years.

He will run for up to eight miles in a session, is devoted to yoga, takes ballet classes to help with balance and does aerial aerobics.

He barely drinks alcohol and eats healthily. ‘It’s debilitating to drink a lot,’ he said. His diet includes lots of sushi and small portions of protein. Before a performance he will have a big plate of plain pasta for energy.

No personal trainer for Sir Paul, although he does visit a gym near his home in St John’s Wood. Friends say he is an ‘outdoorsy, active’ kind of person. He rides horses when he’s on his estate in Peasmarsh, East Sussex, and likes to cycle where he can.

He also sails and has done yoga with third wife Nancy Shevell for several years. He said: ‘I feel pretty fit. I do a bit of the cross-trainer, a bit of running, a bit of cardio and then I do some weights, some abs on the Swiss ball, before ending up on the mat doing a few stretches. Then standing on my head. I learned it in the Sixties — it was a yoga thing.’

He has been a vegetarian for more than 40 years. These days he drinks wine and beer ‘in moderation only’.

To dye or not to dye? Nobody admits to styling or dyeing Jagger’s chestnut mullet (right), while McCartney (left), who was a great fan of hair dye, has now allowed himself to go grey


There’s no doubt about which man is ahead in terms of money — Macca, by a mile. The Sunday Times Rich List suggests that he is worth £820 million to Jagger’s £310 million.

Why such a huge difference? The Beatles have sold far more music globally, and Macca is also the holder of 25,000 copyrights, so money streams in from thousands of songs by other artists. According to the Guinness World Records, Yesterday is the most covered song, and Macca as its co-writer collects money every time a version is released, performed, streamed or broadcast.

She loves you . . . yeah yeah yeah

One is a serial monogamist, the other a womaniser on a monumental scale.

Macca married Linda Eastman in 1969 and they were together until her death from breast cancer in 1998. Linda had a daughter, Heather, from a previous relationship whom Paul adopted. The couple went on to have children Mary, Stella and James.

Paul with first wife Linda

A year after Linda’s death he was introduced to model, Heather Mills, at a charity event. They were married in 2002, had a daughter, Beatrice, and split in 2006.

In 2007 he started dating family friend Nancy Shevell, a businesswoman. She became the third Mrs Paul McCartney in 2011.

Jagger has only married once, to Bianca Pérez-Mora Macias from 1971 to 1978. His longest romance was with Texan model Jerry Hall, whom he met in New York in 1977, stole from Bryan Ferry and ‘married’ on a beach in Bali in 1990. They split in 1999 after it emerged that Mick had got Brazilian model Luciana Morad pregnant.

Mick went on to date fashion designer L’Wren Scott, who took her own life in 2014. He had a son with ballerina Melanie Hamrick in 2016.

Mick Jagger and L’Wren Scott

Not that Sir Mick is a slouch when it comes to money. Jagger, who studied accounting at the London School of Economics and insisted on the whole band becoming tax exiles in 1971, is said to have personally made £3.5 million when their song Satisfaction was licensed for use in a Snickers commercial.

Both men are penny-pinching by reputation. Mick’s daughter Georgia complains that he goes around the house turning off lights complaining about extravagance, while Jerry Hall said in an interview that her former husband was ‘tight’ and ‘made me pay for everything’.

Stella McCartney said her father was a ‘tight b*****d’ for sending her to a comprehensive school. During his marriage to Heather Mills he threw her a birthday party and guests were surprised to find that they had to pay for their own drinks at the bar.


The Rolling Stones have sold around 240 million albums, The Beatles some 600 million.

The Fab Four have had 17 UK No 1s, The Stones eight. It’s a similar story in America where The Beatles have had 20 No 1 singles and the Stones eight.


Both men are ‘Sirs’. McCartney was knighted in 1997, Mick Jagger only caught up in 2003. Sir Paul is also a Companion of Honour — one of just 65 — alongside national treasures such as Sir David Attenborough.


Macca has five children including fashion designer Stella. The oldest is Linda’s daughter Heather, 58, while the youngest is daughter Beatrice (with Heather Mills) who is 17. He has eight grandchildren whom he says call him ‘grandude’.

Jagger has eight children. The oldest is Karis, 50, by actress Marsha Hunt, while the youngest, Deveraux, is four. He has four grandchildren, including baby Eugene, born to daughter Lizzy last year.


Both men were formerly enthusiastic drug takers who have kicked the habit. In 2012 Macca said that he was going to give up smoking marijuana. ‘I smoked my share,’ he told Rolling Stone magazine.

‘When you’re bringing up a youngster, your sense of responsibility does kick in at some point.’

In 1980, Paul was held in custody for nine days after he was found with half a pound of cannabis trying to enter Japan.

After protests from fans and visits from his lawyers, he was eventually released without charge. 

Mick was famously busted for drugs in 1967 at Keith Richards’ house, Redlands.

He was accused of illegally possessing four tablets containing amphetamine sulphate and methylamphetamine hydrochloride and Richards was charged with ‘allowing his house to be used for the purpose of smoking cannabis’. 

There was another drugs raid — this time at Mick’s house in Chelsea, where he lived with Marianne Faithfull in 1969. Jagger was found guilty of cannabis posession, fined £200 and ordered to pay 50 guineas in costs.

Jerry Hall said that when she met Mick in 1977 he admitted that there was a year in the 1960s when he took LSD every day and that he had smoked cigarettes laced with heroin. She said he gave it all up for her.

In 1980, Paul (pictured in September 2019) was held in custody for nine days after he was found with half a pound of cannabis trying to enter Japan

Mick (pictured in 1967) was famously busted for drugs in 1967 at Keith Richards’ house


The two rock legends have houses in London. Sir Paul has a £10 million home in St John’s Wood (which he bought in the 1960s for £400,000) while Sir Mick has an equally enormous home in Chelsea, also worth £10 million.

Mick also has a 16th-century castle in the Loire Valley, worth around £5 million and an estate in Mustique where there is an annual Jagger family holiday over New Year. There is also at least one £5 million ‘brownstone’ in New York and a new £1million house in Sarasota, Florida, where he has been preparing for the current Stones tour of America.

Macca has his estate in East Sussex, a Fifth Avenue duplex in New York worth £15 million, and a holiday house on Long Island.

Picture research: Claire Cisotti 

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