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Beatles or Stones?
Dr. Spin receives his first questions.

by Dr. Spin
May 6, 2002

Beatles or Stones?_Dr. Spin-Dr. Spin receives his first questions. The following letter to Dr. Spin was possibly shortened in a temporary malfunction of the mail system.

Beatles or Stones?


Dear BoS,

Thanks for the first letter! I’m not sure what you’re asking by “Beatles or Stones?”

If your asking which band is larger, that would be the Rolling Stones. The Beatles were always a quartet, whereas the Rolling Stones have been traditionally a quintet. Also, the Rolling Stones have had more members; the Beatles consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. The Rolling Stones started with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and Brian Jones. Brian Jones was replaced by Mick Taylor, who was then replaced by Ron Wood. Bill Wyman quit recently, and although they replaced him with another bassist on tour, that other bassist is not considered a member of the Rolling Stones as of yet.

An interesting footnote to that: the Beatles have more former members who have passed away. John Lennon was killed in 1980, and of course, George Harrison passed away last year. Brian Jones, who drowned in his pool in 1969, is the only member (current or former) of the Rolling Stones that has died, although some people think Keith Richards has been brain-dead for years, and only has the capacity to smoke and play “Satisfaction,” which is why the Stones keep touring.

As to which band recorded more, that would be also the Stones. The Beatles recording career lasted only from 1962 to 1970. The Stones started recording in 1963 and still cut an album every now and then. I believe the Beatles have more number one hits than the Stones, though the Stones certainly have been recording long enough to have caught them by now.

The Beatles however made more films during their career as a band. Other than a few concert movies, I don’t think the Rolling Stones have ever made a film proper, although Mick Jagger has probably acted in more films than any member of the Beatles.

Now, if you’re asking which band is better, that is always a matter of taste, and my taste tends to lead towards the Beatles. Both bands are considered part of the “Big Three” of ‘60’s Rock bands, with the Who being the third. Debate as to which band is best ranges from musicianship, to popularity, to influence, to which band is just more cool. While one can argue that Keith Richards seems to display better craftsmanship over the guitar than George Harrison, for the type of songs they’re playing, each is perfect. Would a George Harrison solo work in “Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown?” Would Keith Richards find the right hook for “Day Tripper?” It all depends on how you like your Rock ‘n’ Roll.

For me it comes down to listenability (yes, it’s a word! We Rockology PhDs use it all the time!). If I feel like listening to music, any music, the Beatles almost always come to mind. Their ability to diversify their sound and yet keep it essentially Beatles makes the Beatles almost always listenable. The Stones are always at the heart a rockabilly/blues band. They can waver into the soft (“As Time Goes By,” “Ruby Tuesday”), and even the psychedelic (“She’s Like a Rainbow,” “2000 Light Years from Home”), but they’re at their best with songs like “Midnight Rambler,” “Brown Sugar,” and “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

Thanks for your question, and keep ‘em coming!

Dear "Doctor,"

If you were a big fan, you would realize that there is space on the PO for just ONE know-it-all. I know what you and the Webmaster are doing. It's like ABC with the whole Ted Koppel/David Letterman thing. Well, revenge is a dish best served cold.

In Time,
Dear Jon

Dear DJ

Hey! Your initials make you a deejay! In an article about music! What a coincidence!

Despite that you’ve violated my primary rules about my column, A) letters are to be of a musical nature, and B) letters are supposed to ask questions, not give statements, I will answer your letter by stating the following.

The Webmaster warned me about this, but I figured his assessment was a simple editor/staff member feud. Now I realize you truly are a paranoid, delusional man with a misplaced sense of grandeur and a control freak! Threaten me in my own column, will you! Just remember two can play at your game. In time, indeed…

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