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Paul McCartney Just Dissed the Rolling Stones by Calling Them This

The former Beatle lobbed an insult at the other biggest band of all time.

Beatles or Stones? The question as to whether you prefer John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr to Mick Jagger and the rest of the Rolling Stones has long been a sort of cultural shorthand for how traditional or rebellious you are. Both bands are wildly successful (even though the Beatles broke up in 1970) and have two of the most enduring musical legacies to come out of the '60s. They've even recorded each other's music in the past. But the constant comparison doesn't mean that they're always willing to play nice. In a recent interview, Paul McCartney slammed the Rolling Stones—and it wasn't the first time he's ever done so.

Read on to find out what McCartney said and how Jagger has responded to his critical comments in the past.

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McCartney called The Rolling Stones a "cover band" in a new interview.

Paul McCartney
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Speaking to The New Yorker writer David Remnick, McCartney was clear about who he thinks is the more artistically adventurous band.

"I'm not sure I should say it, but they're a blues cover band. That's sort of what the Stones are," he said. "I think our net was cast a bit wider than theirs."

This isn't the first time McCartney made such a comparison.

During a 2020 McCartney interview with Howard Stern, as reported by Rolling Stone, the radio host admitted he prefers the Beatles to the Stones.

"You know you're going to persuade me to agree with that one," McCartney said in response. "They are rooted in the blues. When they are writing stuff, it has to do with the blues. We had a little more influences. … There's a lot of differences, and I love the Stones, but I'm with you. The Beatles were better."

The 79-year-old musician also told Stern that he thinks the Rolling Stones regularly copied the Beatles.

"We started to notice that whatever we did, the Stones sort of did it shortly thereafter," McCartney said. "We went to America, and we had huge success, then the Stones went to America… There was a lot of that, but we were great friends, you know, we still are. We admire each other."

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Jagger hit back at McCartney's comments.

rolling stones songs turning 50
Everett Collection /

Jagger had a cheeky comeback to McCartney's Stern interview.

"That's so funny. He's a sweetheart. There's obviously no competition," Jagger told Zane Lowe during an interview Apple Music interview in April 2020, as reported by ET Canada.

He went on to say that he thinks the Stones have surpassed the Beatles because the Beatles never became a band that toured arenas—and because they're no longer a band at all.

"So that business started in 1969, and the Beatles never experienced that," he said. "They did a great gig, and I was there, at Shea Stadium. They did that stadium gig. But the Stones went on. We started doing stadium gigs in the '70s and [are] still doing them now. That's the real big difference between these two bands. One band is unbelievably luckily still playing in stadiums, and then the other band doesn't exist."

The feud between the bands goes way back.

john lennon and paul mccartney performing on the ed sullivan show
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In a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon, who was killed in 1980, reminisced about the band's early days together before lobbing an insult at Jagger.

"That was a great period," Lennon said. "We were like kings of the jungle then, and we were very close to the Stones. I don't know how close the others were but I spent a lot of time with Brian [Jones] and Mick. I admire them, you know…It was really a good time, that was the best period, fame-wise. We didn't get mobbed so much. It was like a men's smoking club, just a very good scene."

But eventually, Lennon got over the Stones and apparently wasn't impressed by them musically.

"I think it's a lot of hype," he told the magazine. "I like 'Honky Tonk Woman,' but I think Mick's a joke."

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The rift may have started because of some professional jealousy.

brian jones, yoko ono, john lennon, julian lennon, eric clapton, and roger daltrey at rock n roll circus
Michael Webb / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Given that they both hail from the U.K. and became wildly famous during the same decade, the Stones and Beatles inevitably spent a good deal of time together. And at one time, they even shared personnel.

After the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein died of a drug overdose in 1967, the band hired Allen Klein, who was also the Rolling Stones' manager (though McCartney told The New Yorker that he never trusted Klein). One manager splitting time between two of the biggest bands in the world inevitably led to conflict.

"[Mick and I] saw a bit of each other around when Allen was first coming in–I think Mick got jealous," Lennon told Rolling Stone. "I was always very respectful about Mick and the Stones, but he said a lot of sort of tarty things about the Beatles, which I am hurt by, because you know, I can knock the Beatles, but don't let Mick Jagger knock them."

Yet, despite the occasional harsh words, the surviving members of the Beatles and the Stones remain on (mostly) decent terms. Jagger even helped induct the Beatles into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

"We had a sort of—a lot of rivalry in those early years, and a little bit of friction, but we always ended up friends," he said at the ceremony. "And I like to think we still are, 'cause they were some of the greatest times of our lives, and I'm really proud to be the one that leads them into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame."

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