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The Rolling Stones were another massively popular band to come out of England in the 1960s, so The Beatles’ John Lennon spent a good deal of time around them. While he liked the band members, he had some problems with their music. He believed they were, in some ways, knock-offs of The Beatles. He didn’t think their music was strong enough to survive the fan reaction to Mick Jagger’s wedding. 

John Lennon thought The Rolling Stones’ success relied on Mick Jagger’s relationship status

Early in The Beatles’ career, Lennon married his girlfriend Cynthia. For a while, he kept the relationship quiet because of the concern that fans would turn on the band if they found out Lennon was taken. Ultimately, though, the news leaked out, and The Beatles didn’t suffer a hit to their popularity.

“I don’t think the two of us being married has had any bad effects on our popularity,” Lennon said, per the book Lennon: The Definitive Biography by Ray Coleman. “Remember, when it got out that both Ringo and I were married, there hadn’t been anybody in such a position as we were in, who had got married. It was Silver Disc, as opposed to Gold Disc, people who’d got married before us!”

A black and white picture of John Lennon wearing a tuxedo and talking to Mick Jagger, who wears a white suit and holds a cigarette.
John Lennon and Mick Jagger | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Lennon didn’t think every band could survive this. He thought the strength of The Beatles’ music carried them through it. Flashier groups like The Rolling Stones might collapse if their lead singer got married.

“People who relied on the fact that they wiggled, sexily, in their stage acts. We didn’t rely on wiggling, we still don’t, and we won’t,” he said. “We were never dependent on fans being in love with us so much as others are. Not like Jagger. He’s the Charlie Chaplin of rock’ n’ roll. Now he can’t afford to get married! The Stones would be all over.”

The Beatles’ relationships did irritate their fans

Lennon said that they didn’t depend on their fans being in love with them. Still, they weren’t exactly excited about The Beatles’ relationships. Cynthia, Maureen Starkey, and Pattie Boyd, who married members of the band at the height of their popularity, reported aggressive behavior from fans

“Living in London with George [Harrison], there were so many fans every day, it became impossible to leave the flat,” Boyd said in a conversation with Taylor Swift for Harper’s Bazaar. “Brian Epstein thought there might be an idea that John, Ringo, and George move to the country, have little houses about an hour out of London.”

Boyd left a Beatles concert early to avoid fans, but they spotted her.

“In my first experience, I found it absolutely terrifying,” she said. “I got to see the Beatles play at a theater in London, and George told me that I should leave with my friends before the last number. So before the last song, we got up from our seats and walked toward the nearest exit door, and there were these girls behind me. They followed us out, and they were kicking me and pulling my hair and pushing us all the way down this long passageway.”

Boyd said that the fans shouted, “We hate you,” as they followed her out. 

John Lennon often spoke badly about The Rolling Stones

Lennon’s assertion that the Stones would fall apart as soon as Jagger married didn’t come true. He married Bianca Jagger in 1971, and 50 years later, the band is still successfully touring. Lennon’s words may have had more to do with his vague sense of distaste for the competing band.

A black and white picture of Bianca Jagger holding a bouquet and sitting at a church pew next to Mick Jagger, who laughs.
Bianca Jagger and Mick Jagger | Reg Lancaster/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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“Although John and Mick got on well superficially, there was a distinct impression that Lennon thought Jagger was trying, through the Stones, to overtake the Beatles, and John regarded that as pathetic,” Coleman wrote. “Later, John slammed the Stones’ Satanic Majesties Request album as an imitation of Sgt. Pepper, and loathed the Stones’ record ‘We Love You’ which John said was ‘She Loves You’ backwards. Coincidentally, both John and Paul had sung on the record which Lennon blasted so forcefully. John had very little artistic respect for the Rolling Stones.”

In the 1970s, Lennon and Jagger grew closer. Perhaps this was because The Beatles had broken up and were no longer in competition with the Rolling Stones.