George Harrison and the Rolling Stones 1963
The myth that The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, iconic legendary rock bands from the 1960's, were competitors is not true. It was only true in the eyes of the fans and public because the radio and TV teen stations created it. These were the most prominent rock bands then and now. But the reality is they were great friends, for the most part. John Lennon and Mick Jagger often chilled with one another off stage or when not performing.
Back in May, 1963, The Beatles and Beatlemania was gaining momentum. The Beatles already and a few #1 songs in England (but nowhere else). They had been on England's top teen show, Thank Your Lucky Stars, which basically started the Beatlemania and the hysteria simply increased. The Rolling Stones were much farther below them. They had a mostly male fan base playing in clubs that had mostly blues music. They mostly did American blues covers of songs and really had no originals. Many of their songs did not improve on the cover, they just put a British sound to black music. Compare this to The Beatles covers that were totally rearranged and many were better than the original artists because it was very much improved upon.
George Harrison first heard them in one of these clubs and liked them back in March. So, one night, he convinced the others to go to the club to check them out. The Stones were playing at a hotel in Richmond and the Beatles incognito, were standing in the small crowd observing. Bill Wyman, a Rolling Stone member, looked up as he played and noticed them in the back dressed in leather jackets and not dancing. Wyman signaled to Jagger that someone was in the crowd and during the instrumental part of the song, Wyman exclaims to Jagger, "That's the bloody Beatles!"
The Rolling Stones finished their gig and the two bands decided to go back to a flat rented by Jagger, Brian Jones and Keith Richards. The two bands jammed and talked music for the rest of the night. Wyman mentioned that John told them they were going to play at the Albert Hall (this would be one of the early epic events for the Beatles) and invited the Stones to watch the show. During that Beatle performance, the Stones experienced Beatlemania first hand being in the crowd- the frenzy, emotion, hysteria.
That experience inspired them and it was after that the Stones decided to do the more commercial songs kids were listening to- Chuck Berry fast rockers. The two bands worked together on a few gigs. The Rolling Stones, a lesser band, opened for The Beatles many times in London.
Then, in May, 1963, George Harrison and Dick Rowe (an agent for Decca looking for a new band. He had turned down the Beatles!), were judges in a music contest at Philharmonic Hall, London. The Stones were not there, but during the contest, George and Dick were chatting and Harrison mentioned to Dick about the Stones and how he thought they were very good but different than the Beatle sound. Dick Rowe had never heard of them.
A few months passed, and The Stones were still playing the gig at the hotel in Richmond. Dick and his wife attended. Most of the audience were boys or men, no girls. Dick thought it was weird. AS the Stones played their set, nobody danced. Some watched them play, to others, it was just background music. Dick liked the bluesy, earthy sound. His wife thought Jagger was nice looking. They only stayed 15 minutes.
A few days later, Dick got a hold of the Stones manager and signed the group to Decca records. The Stones can thank their lucky stars for a Beatle, George Harrison, for the great referral!
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