There was a time when the Rolling Stones were also deadly. In the London of sixty years ago, Charlie Watts having already joined the band in the place of Mick Avory, the later drummer of The Kinks, the record companies showed no interest in them.
Brian Jones, who then led the group, although he would soon succumb to drugs and be found dead in his pool, had set out to find an agent who would procure a record label for them. This turned out to be Andrew Loog Oldham, the publicist who would make up the myth of the Beatles-Stones confrontation, good guys versus bad guys, and who launched the campaign “Would you let your daughter go out with one of the Rolling Stones?” accompanied by a photo in which they made a bad face.
Actually the members of both groups were very close friends. To the point of carefully planning when to throw the discs so as not to step on yourself. Proof of that friendship that has made rivers of ink flow – this 2021 has been published BeatleStones. A duel, a winner (Millennium), an analysis of both careers made by businessmen Charles Gancel and Yves Delmas, president of Seur – was the collaboration they maintained at that time.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney did backing vocals on a couple of Stones songs, We love you and Dandelion , and Brian Jones was invited to record You know my name , in which with a brief letter the Beatles chain musical styles. The Stone showed up with a sax instead of the expected guitar and recorded, half drunk, a solo that they thought was great.
Beatles and Stones met through the publicist who would later invent the rivalry between the two
But the true test of friendship was prior to all this, when indeed the Stones were still mere mortals. While the band was in the apartment they shared, Brian Jones heard the first Liverpool single on the radio, Love me do , and quickly called his colleagues. “When I heard that harmonica bluesie I got sick, ”Mick Jagger would say. And Keith Richards said something like “Wow, we who thought we were the best of the best and now they are attacking us from the north” (an expression that for Londoners would be equivalent to talking about people from the provinces).
The point is that it was paradoxically through Loog Oldham that they went out of their way to get to know each other, going to the clubs where the others were performing or the pubs that pop royalty frequented until the late hours. This is how George Harrison made the effusive recommendation to Decca to hire them, precisely the record company that had covered itself with glory months before by rejecting the goose that lays the golden eggs that would be the Beatles.
The label’s director, Dick Rowe, and producer Mike Smith went down in the universal history of blunders. But they reconciled with the Beatles and, after listening to Harrison’s advice, with whom Rowe agreed on a contest jury, they agreed to release the Stones’ first single, Come on, the Chuck Berry theme. It didn’t take long for Loog Oldham to see the need to record an original song. And he asked the Beatles for it. Would I wanna be your man.
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To which pop idol do the Rolling Stones owe their first record deal?