The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones

Human beings are very good at two things:  Checking to ensure the cashier has given you the correct change when you make a purchase, and offering an opinion on any topic they choose. Since self checkouts are taking over many retail outlets, we now share our own math mistakes with ourselves, as we struggle to remember if we round up or down in our penniless society. Opinions on this new checkout option are much easier to share.  My education on forming an opinion began while listening to my father’s orations as I ate food.  Observing my father at the supper table it became very clear to me, that expressing your strong, outrageous views on any subject was a great way to get out of being invited to all family functions.

It became painfully clear to Dad’s offspring that arguing on a subject, without requisite information was effective, as long as you spoke louder than others at the table.  He spoke effortlessly on the incompetent local government, or the fine acting on the TV show, Marcus Welby M.D., as his thoughts and feelings eliminated the need for any factual evidence to support his bold claims.

At my high school the ubiquitous musical argument was Musical Superiority:  The Rolling Stones or The Beatles.   For some unexplained reason you had to pick one band and support your choice.  Nobody won this 4-year debate as it continued until graduation.  Some students would soon enter law school, and in preparation for this career, started using facts and research to support their argument. We would carefully avoid talking to those students, as they ruined all the fun.

A little time has passed since I attended high school. I did not attend law school, though I have gone to court to share my opinion on a speeding ticket.  I have slowly matured as an adult, and employment at large Global Companies has taught me that the use of an occasional fact contributes significantly to a persuasive presentation. In desperate times I did use the winning formula: The smaller the facts, the louder the voice.  With this new “evidence based” approach, I have had an overwhelming feeling to return to this Beatles vs. Rolling Stones debate, as the sense of unresolved conflict with my high school buddies is keeping me up at night.  The neighbour’s dog also keeps me up at night barking about The Eagles being a better band than The Beatles.  The Beagles would be a fair compromise to any dog’s musical argument.

Before addressing this important topic, I feel it fair to share perhaps what some might call a personal bias.  I believe that The Rolling Stones are the most overrated band in the history of music.  This includes not only the monks who sang Gregorian Chants for Pope Gregory during that wild 9thCentury, but also The Partridge Family. I am hoping this slight prejudice does not distort my impartial, neutral approach to the subject.

In 1964, with Beatlemania at its height, record producers scoured Britain, to fine any band with long hair and long accents to duplicate the financial success of the Beatles.  This “British Invasion” lasted for years.  The Kinks, The Zombies, The Rolling Stones, The Dave Clark Five, The Animals and many other bands benefited from North America’s Foreign curiosity. Yes The Rolling Stones got swept up as part of an international shift of  1960s Rock and Roll.

To help cure my recurring high school flashback driven insomnia, let’s review some of the important, fundamental statistics of The Beatles versus The Rolling Stones

                                           The Beatles      The Rolling Stones

Years together                     8 years           50 years and counting

Years of Recording             7 years           50 years and counting

Studio Albums Recorded  13                   30

Number 1 Songs                 26                   8

Band Members                    4                     8 and counting

Records Sold                      600 million    30 million 

Movies                                  4                    1 (live concert)

Touring Years                      3                     50 years and counting

Grammy Awards                 28                   3 ( 1 was a lifetime achievement award)

Songs Recorded                 211                 439

Members From Liverpool   4                     0

Members named Ringo      1                     0

Songs about a Walrus        1                     0

Cirque du Soleil shows      1                     0

There are many other statistics available for comparison, but why should I do all the work!  Though not really a statistic, the most striking fact I uncovered is that George Harrison was 27 year old when The Beatles last recorded a song.  At the age of 27 he had finished his first real job.  Most of us are barely 27 when we start are first serious job.  So what does all pf this mean in the never ending Beatles \ Rolling Stones debate?

Well if you measure greatness by longevity, The Rolling Stones win the argument.  If touring endurance is your measure for great bands, once again The Stones dominate.  Funny how we can all find statistics to support any argument we choose. Excuse me while I go find my calculator as math is not my strength, and I never use the self checkout lines.

The Beatles had 13 albums and 26 number 1 songs! = 2 hits per album.

The Rolling Stones had 30 albums and 8 number 1 hits which my calculator concludes that every 4 albums they wrote a hit song.

The Rolling Stones sold 30 million records and The Beatles sold 600 million records.  (Some sources say over 1 billion records).  For those non business people reading this data, popularity is leaning slightly towards the lads from Liverpool.

The Rolling Stones are still touring so if I used concert revenue as a statistic The Beatles would lose. They would lose because their last concert was in 1966.  Bullets and cancer made any Beatle reunion tour an impossibility, however to the Rolling Stones credit, Keith Richard’s death has never stopped them from touring.

I would like to offer more sophisticated analysis but my calculator refuses to calculate trigonometry or calculus, I think this adding machine is a Stones fan.  I will simply conclude if longevity, durability and Keith Richard’s jokes are your markers for a great band, The Rolling Stones are the better band.

If record sales, memorable songs your kids know, changing the world, creating musical masterpieces, revolutionizing record concepts, elevating the art of songwriting, and doing all of this in less than 8 years of recording music, then there really is no debate. If you Get No Satisfaction from my conclusion, Let it Be!

If I could return to my high school days, I would proudly wear my bell bottom pants, and join the debate team on the off chance the topic would change from “World Peace” to “Musical Band Superiority”.  If the stubborn debate adjudicator maintained “World Peace” as the topic, I would IMAGINE, I could GIVE PEACE A CHANCE, in my well researched argument.  To my high school friends reading this, next week we will compete for the greatest number of kids you hid in the trunk of your car when visiting the Drive In Theatre.

Cue the Blong.  For the more classical music fans, I offer this Beethoven \ Mozart debate…




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