Quite possibly the most debated subject in classic rock history, the feud between Beatles and Rolling Stones fans continues to resonate to this day. In “20 Reasons The Rolling Stones Smash The Beatles,” Martin Appleby gives his readers nineteen reasons—misleading title, I agree—why he thinks The Rolling Stones top their number one competition, The Beatles. At times, it seems as though the author loses track of what he is arguing for but ultimately sticks to writing about his admiration of The Stones. Martin does well at thinking up nineteen reasons to support his band, but the majority of his reasons lack the rationale required to be considered of any value.
Out of the hundreds of songs published by The Beatles, there are a select few that still manage to get onto the radio multiple times a day. Even a Beatles fan like myself can be a bit irritated with the frequency of certain songs over the air. In his first point, Martin writes that The Stones are—and always have been—cooler than The Beatles (Appleby). Appleby displays this by pointing out how over-played the song “Hey Jude” is, and then adds how Mick Jagger—the lead singer of The Rolling Stones—has always secretly wanted to be a Beatle. The reason Martin finds himself unable to support his ‘claim of coolness’ is that his claim is incredibly weak. A band does not become better than another simply by being ‘cool’. For the sake of argument, let’s pretend coolness does matter. However overplayed The Beatles song “Hey Jude” is—which it is—does not contribute to the cool of The Rolling Stones; if anything, it contributes to the popularity of The Beatles. Lastly, how is it relevant to Appleby’s argument to mention Mick Jagger wanting to be a Beatle? It plainly is not.
No matter what, there is always something to be appreciated in a piece of music and I see there no reason to belittle an artist or group based on their sounds. To say something insulting about an individual’s music is downright disrespectful—especially when it is John Lennon being insulted. The author of this article writes that “Imagine”—a song John Lennon wrote after the disassembly of The Beatles—can be compared to “The Birdie Song” (Appleby). The prior is a remarkable tune regarding world peace and the latter a lyric-less children’s song usually associated with ‘the chicken dance’. This digression away from comparing the two bands has turned into bashing John Lennon; and sure, Lennon was a Beatle, but when this song was recorded and published, he was a solo artist. In “Imagine”, Lennon’s dream-like tone and lyrics on the subject of world peace make the song very popular; it invokes feelings of optimism and “what if” in its listeners. These types of songs, which Lennon is known for, are what makes him such a revolutionary in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, Appleby goes out of the way of his initial argument just to insult Mr. Lennon’s musical talents and subversive efforts.
Certainly, bands have to brand themselves in order to look different from one another; but a different brand does not always amount to one being better than another, it depends on preference. No better in his next point, Appleby explains how The Beatles ruined their “street cred” by allowing LSD—a popular hallucinogenic drug amongst musicians at the time—to influence some of their music. More so, it is explained that The Stones also used LSD, but it did not have as much influence musically as it did for The Beatles. Again, The Beatles lose more “street cred” due to drummer Ringo Starr’s writing of a children’s book many years after the ‘Fab Four’ had disassembled (Appleby). In a third instance, “street cred” is sacrificed from the Beatles since they were generally more peaceful than The Stones and did not get in to fights, as the author explains (Appleby). Lastly, as far as “street cred” goes, Appleby writes that “The Stones have Keith, who to face facts, is the living embodiment of all things Rock n’ Roll”—referring to Keith Richards, whom I have mentioned earlier. This idea of “street cred” is largely where the author goes wrong throughout the article. Specifically, Appleby’s thoughts that this “street cred” means anything—in terms of which band is better—are completely false. Let it be known that “street cred” does not make one a more skilled musician; create original material; invoke creativity; or give band members harmony. Though Appleby uses it as evidence throughout his writing, “street cred” is nothing but an image; and an image does not make one group better than another.
Very common among rock-stars is the image of a masculine, flirty, and philandering man with a sea of female fans waiting to be noticed. One thing that sets The Beatles aside from many classic rock groups is their lack of said image. Regarding The Rolling Stones, Martin brings up sex and explains how Mick Jagger slept with many people he should not have in places he should not have; including “shagging” band mate Keith Richards’ girlfriend of the time on the set of a film. A result of this was heavy drug use on Keith’s part and the recording of an exceptionally good album. The author points out Beatles drummer Ringo Starr being with Barbara Bach, but ultimately, “in terms of chick quality The Stones thrash the mop tops” (Appleby). Why do I feel like I am in a boys high school locker room all of the sudden? Martin adds that “people weren’t clamoring to go and stay with Paul or George, ever,” which is a rather erroneous statement. Having watched plenty of filmed Beatles performances over the years, I can describe what a typical Beatles fan is like at a performance. The majority of the audience is female, and they become absolutely ruthless to do so much as to lay their eyes on any one Beatle. These girls would oftentimes faint and have to be carried out of the venue—due to overwhelming feelings is all I can amount it to. Go ahead and watch a filmed performance of The Beatles and tell me not one of those girls wanted to stay with George or Paul. This argument of Appleby’s goes hand-in-hand with the previous one; it amounts to image and nothing more. Essentially, Martin Appleby is perpetuating the act of womanizing by deeming the act as a characteristic which makes one group better than another. Martin’s ‘proofs’ of The Rolling Stones “smashing” The Beatles have turned quite immoral.
Martin Appleby brought up many interesting points throughout his argument; some of which were thought invoking and others thought provoking. From the authors ‘claim of coolness’ to his ideology that “chick quality” and drug abuse make The Stones a better band, I most found myself disagreeing with Appleby based on his lack of support. Furthermore, Martin’s belief that one band is better than the other really limits what can be argued upon. As a counterargument, I could have easily showed record sales data and blown The Stones out of the water; but popularity does not always set one group in front of another. The single biggest mistake made by Appleby in this article was his attempt to compare two very different bands. It is similar to comparing vanilla and chocolate ice cream; they are two very popular flavors and each will have its own following, but a person cannot reason why one is better than the other—they are of the same texture, but taste very different.
Appleby, Martin. “20 Reasons The Rolling Stones Smash The Beatles.” Sabotagetimes. N.p., 8 Sept. 2013. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.