the rolling stones vs the beatles

i do not listen to a lot of rock as a genre. jimi hendrix is my favorite guitarist (stevie ray vaughan is 1b) and there are certain rock songs over the years that i like– mostly from the classic rock era. i am no musicologist, but here is my perspective on the stones as compared to the beatles.

for me, the rolling stones are the greatest rock band in history. i am biased though– they are my all time favorite. but there are a few reasons i argue that the stones are the GOAT rock group of all time: captivativing front man, consistently good live shows, driving lead guitarist, and unbelievable longevity.

although most folks probably would name the beatles as the greatest, i always thought of them as a pop band because of their vibe. of course the 60s were a different era and rock was just evolving. bands just wanted to get play time on the radio or a tv appearance. the distinction among genres are very different as we know today. in my mind, a rock group needs a driving guitarist with “soul.” to me, george harrison was a folk guitarist as the lead for the beatles. although keith richards was not the greatest lead guitarist, he was a good fit with the stones vibe. his riffs had a soulful feel. perhaps it’s my hendrix-as-guitarist framework that influences me in this area.

mick jagger had swag before the word swag existed. he is one of the those guys that– even before he became famous– at a party, all eyes would be on him because of his charisma/glow/energy. even more after the stones found some fame! at 77 years of age, he is still captivating on stage. most people his age have difficulties getting up and down the stairs. jagger as a frontman for a rock group is unparalleled in rock history.

to my mind, we are now seeing the polar extreme of the relationship of music with technology. all a person needs to make music today is a laptop. while there are skills needed for this tech generation of music, they are very different skills than pre-computer music. there is a grittiness to live rock music . so one of my litmus tests for a music group is: how does a group do on stage with a live audience?

there are many groups that can do well inside a studio that can minimize flaws; most groups cannot hold the interest on stage with a live audience. also, music changed as entertainment in a different medium with the advent of music videos. this changed how touring is done– the addition of on screen visuals. while most famous groups have faithful followers, after a time, the best they can do for live shows may be a smaller venue joining with other back-in-the-day bands. or at a casino. the stones are in a different category in this regard. the last (three year) tour for the stones ended with last year’s sell out 65,000 seat stadium in miami. which brings me to the last category

the stones have done over 2000 concerts that has been continuous since 1962. i was born in 1962! i leave it to the experts to talk about influences trends etc but longevity to me plays into any comparison. in their ten years as a band, the beatles still have a lasting influence today. this cannot be denied and is notable. but the lasting nature of the stones at such a high level is very special in the rock world (ANY genre for that matter!) countless fans enjoying the live music of the stones’ that cut across generations is at very least admirable if not mind blowing.

so there ya have it. these are my categories from which to judge two rock bands: a mesmerizing frontman, driving guitarist, rockin’ live performances, and an unbelievable longevity. perhaps you have different categories to see the comparison? i didn’t even mention any songs! or the bad boy vibe that adds spice to rock and roll! maybe next time…

so i give a respectful nod to the beatles but i bow to the stones as the greatest rock group of all time– at least for me! if you disagree, that’s okay because “you can’t always get what you want” =)


  1. 100% agree! And just as video killed the radio star, the laptop killed the real musicians!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. frarthurcmf says:

      cutting music programs in schools contributed to the decline too
      but electronic music is just a new genre. many people like it a lot
      i hope YOU are singing often in your life

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I miss the days of an 80’s song with a great saxaphone solo!


  2. frarthurcmf says:

    kenny g went to franklin hs in seattle with my brother!


  3. frarthurcmf says:

    btw, hall and oates are very underrated by most


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