The former Beatle, 79, uncorked the longtime debate about which of the British acts were the greatest during a new interview in The New Yorker.
Discussing The Beatles’ development and evolution with editor David Remnick, McCartney suggested he and his bandmates worked with a more expansive musical palette. “I’m not sure I should say it, but they’re a blues cover band, that’s sort of what the Stones are,” McCartney told Remnick. “I think our net was cast a bit wider than theirs.”
While most will agree the Beatles were the most successful rock band of all time, The Rolling Stones dubbed themselves the “World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band,” in the late ’60s, just prior to the Beatles dissolving.
The Stones initially did cover songs by other writers including “It’s All Over Now,” written by Bobby Womack (and sister-in-law Shirley Womack) and even “I Wanna Be Your Man,” written by John Lennon and McCartney.
But by 1965, with songs such as “The Last Time” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were writing most of the Stones’ material.
Beatles & Stones can’t let it be
This friendly (?) back-and-forth between the Beatles and the Stones has gone on for decades. In a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon said, “they are not in the same class, music-wise or power-wise, never were.”
Jagger and McCartney sparred a year ago, too, after McCartney told Howard Stern, “There’s a lot of differences, and I love the Stones, but I’m with you. The Beatles were better.”
In response, Jagger said, “That’s so funny,” he said. “He’s a sweetheart. There’s obviously no competition.”
However, he went on to say on “The Zane Lowe Show” on Apple Music that there was a difference between the bands. “The Rolling Stones is a big concert band in other decades and other areas, when the Beatles never even did an arena tour, Madison Square Garden with a decent sound system,” he said.
“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.”
This latest slam from Sir Paul comes ahead of McCartney’s “The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present,” a book due out Nov. 2, which collects the lyrics of 154 of his songs including “Eleanor Rigby” and “Band on the Run” and the release of “The Beatles: Get Back,” the documentary series directed by Peter Jackson, coming to Disney+ in three parts on November 25, 26, and 27.
The Rolling Stones had no comment on McCartney’s recent statements and Jagger and Richards’ Twitter feeds have not addressed them.
In an upcoming interview on an episode of BBC Radio 4’s “This Cultural Life” set to air Oct. 23, McCartney said it was John Lennon who wanted to disband The Beatles, The Associated Press reported. “I didn’t instigate the split,” he said. “That was our Johnny.”
McCartney also had a few words for Lennon in the expansive New Yorker interview. The topic was raised about the time of the breakup and accusations Lennon had about the “Let it Be” cameras being orchestrated to highlight McCartney and that the other Beatles “got fed up with being sidemen for Paul.”
Remnick wrote that McCartney laughed at that and said. “John talked a lot of bull****.”