Glastonbury: Paul McCartney virtually duets with John Lennon
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In the early 1960s, Paul McCartney and John Lennon were on a roll. They were writing some of their best songs to date, and even had some to spare. Before long, some other rockers began asking them for help with their careers. Eventually, The Beatles obliged, but only because they didn’t believe in the song they had written.
The Fab Four’s primary songwriters became close pals with their “rival” band, The Rolling Stones in the early 1960s.
The extremely successful Beatles were from Liverpool, while the Stones came from London. So naturally, they had a professional rivalry that spanned the entire country. But once The Beatles broke America, The Rolling Stones asked for some assistance.
The Stones’ singer, Mick Jagger, recalled: “We knew [The Beatles] by then and we were rehearsing and [the band’s manager] Andrew [Oldham] brought Paul and John down to the rehearsal. They said they had this tune. They were really hustlers then. I mean the way they used to hustle tunes was great.”
Jagger recalled Lennon and McCartney saying to him: “Hey Mick, we’ve got this great song!”
Jagger went on in 1968: “So they played it and we thought it sounded pretty commercial, which is what we were looking for, so we did it like Elmore James or something. I haven’t heard it for ages but it must be pretty freaky ’cause nobody really produced it. It was completely crackers, but it was a hit and sounded great onstage.”
The song in question was their November 1963 hit I Wanna Be Your Man.
While it was a massive success for the band, Lennon and McCartney didn’t think the track was worth recording.
The Fab Four eventually released their own version of the hit, but it was sung by their drummer, Ringo Starr.
Lennon later berated the song.
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Lennon said in 1980: “It was a throwaway. The only two versions of the song were Ringo and the Rolling Stones. That shows how much importance we put on it.”
He cruelly added: “We weren’t going to give them anything great, right?”
Despite his opinion of the song, I Wanna Be Your Man was released as The Rolling Stones’ second-ever single. It was an instant success, and marked the band’s first-ever top-20 single in the UK. After that, their singles were extremely successful, with their next hit Not Fade Away, reaching number three in the charts.
It was also the first song to ever be played on the BBC chart show Top of the Pops.
McCartney later spoke candidly about giving the band his “throwaway” song.
He said: “We were friends with them, and I just thought I Wanna Be Your Man would be good for them. I knew they did Bo Diddley stuff. And they made a good job of it.”
Decades later, in 1988, Jagger inducted The Beatles into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where he thanked them profusely for gifting them I Wanna Be Your Man.
He told the live audience: “We were very grateful for that ’cause that really broke us in England.”
Jagger added: “The example of the way they wrote, and the original way that they crafted their songs wasn’t lost on us. And later on their success in America broke down a lot of doors that helped everyone else from England that followed.”
He went on to say: “I thank them very much for all those things.”
The song has even been referenced by other artists in the past, including Bob Dylan.
Dylan wrote his own song titled I Wanna Be Your Lover in 1971. His track included the lyrics: “I wanna be your lover, baby, I wanna be your man.”
The Saints also used the same lyric in their 1977 song Erotic Neurotic.
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