Friday, October 17, 2014

Beatles vs. Stones by John McMillian

How could I not read Beatles vs. Stones by John McMillian? I was in fourth grade when I first heard the Beatles singing "She Loves You" and "I Saw Her Standing There." In fifth grade I saw A Hard Days Night. I have had Beatles recordings in my possession ever since.

I did not pay much attention to the Rolling Stones until their single "Ruby Tuesday." I considered them as just part of the wave of British bands that included Herman's Hermits, the Animals, the Dave Clark Five, the Who, and the Hollies. Just a music fan, not a critic, I did not rank them in any way. I also liked the Stones' "Get Off of My Cloud" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash," but I never bought another of their records until middle age.

Growing up in the middle of nowhere, not reading rock magazines, I was never aware of a rivalry between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Even as an adult reader, not seeking gossipy publications, I rarely found stories of a conflict, so a whole book on the topic caught me by surprise. Its cover suggests a boxing match or sporting event, which in the end seems an appropriate suggestion. The story of Beatles vs. Stones is that of competitors, not enemies.

In the beginning, the Beatles helped the Rolling Stones with advice, contacts, publicity, and songs. There might never have been much conflict if it were not for journalists asking leading questions. Young men with inflated egos and desiring attention often then responded to sensational negative reporting with trash talk. Friendships between members of the bands warmed and cooled throughout the active phases of their careers. The disputes were relatively juvenile until Mick Jagger recommended a crooked manager to John Lennon.

Beatles vs. Stones is an interesting and entertaining account of the bands and their times that will appeal to Baby Boomers and their children who have heard so much about the good old days. It does not take long to read and may nudge some readers to get out the old albums.

MacMillian, John. Beatles vs. Stones. Simon and Schuster, 2013. 303p. ISBN 9781439159699.

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