Keith Richards’ Beatles Obsession Drove Mick Jagger ‘Batty’
The Stones were still a blues covers band as the Fab Four began their ascendancy to fame by writing and recording original material.
“We were working the clubs in London, and the Beatles just came out and had a hit, ‘Love Me Do’,” Richards said in his episode of the BBC’s four-part documentary My Life as a Rolling Stone. “And we said, ‘Oh, man, what a great record!’”
He noted that "our job was to be like the premier rhythm and blues band in London, and we managed that! But we had no idea of progressing beyond that stage. We were just envious, too, man, you know? I mean, they're doing what we want. … They could make records. The holy grail was to make records, to be able to get into a studio … you’d think you were invading Fort Knox just to make a record.”
Jagger agreed, adding that "the Beatles suddenly explode … but we’re a blues band. The Beatles changed this whole thing. Keith, he’d play the Beatles all the time. It would drive me absolutely batty! And why he was playing the Beatles wasn’t because he didn’t want to listen to anything else. Keith wanted to write these pop songs because we were undeniably the blues band … we knew we had to be a pop band.”
In a separate interview with Apple Music, Ronnie Wood remembered first watching the Stones perform around that time. “I saw them in 1963 at the Richmond Jazz and Blues Festival,” he said. “The extension of the blues – and the crossover from jazz into blues and rock ’n’ roll – was just at the pivotal point where I saw the band. I saw the band that I wanted to be a part of, and I thought, ‘They’re doing what I want to hear, what I want to do! Look at the presence of these guys and look at the girls!’ I said, ‘That looks like a good job,’ and it was fantastic.”