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Decades after The Beatles broke up, Mick Jagger is still captivating audiences as the lead singer of The Rolling Stones. The Stones have been performing together for 60 years and are still releasing music. While they’ve taken a short break before, they’ve never announced a permanent split like The Beatles did. Jagger once said that if The Rolling Stones did break up, they wouldn’t do it as dramatically as The Beatles had.

Mick Jagger said a Rolling Stones breakup wouldn’t look like The Beatles’ split

In 1969, John Lennon told his bandmates he no longer wanted to be in The Beatles, effectively breaking up the band. Paul McCartney broke the news to the public in 1970, and from there, the former bandmates began airing their dirty laundry. 

They spoke negatively about one another in interviews and wrote songs about one another. McCartney even sued his former bandmates to ensure he could protect their catalog of music. While the bandmates were able to improve their relationships over the years, the immediate aftermath of the breakup got nasty.

A black and white picture of Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Bill Wyman standing with their arms around each other.
Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Bill Wyman | J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images

Shortly after The Beatles broke up, an interviewer brought up the fact that Lennon had often accused The Rolling Stones of copying the band. The interviewer asked if the Stones would follow The Beatles’ lead on the breakup. Jagger denied this and said that if they did break up, they wouldn’t be nearly as messy about it as The Beatles had been.

“Nah, we’re not breaking up,” Jagger said, per the book Mick Jagger by Philip Norman. “And if we did, we wouldn’t be as b****y as them … We’ll remain a functioning group, a touring group, a happy group.”

Mick Jagger tried to warn The Beatles against a move that pushed them toward a breakup

While The Beatles’ problems had been mounting over the years, their decision to hire Allen Klein as a manager delivered a punishing blow to the group. McCartney vehemently disagreed with the decision to hire him. Soon, the band fought constantly over business decisions, and shortly after hiring Klein, they broke up.

Klein had also worked with The Rolling Stones. By the time The Beatles hired him, Jagger had grown suspicious of the way he handled the band’s affairs. He tried to warn the other band, even calling Lennon to tell him he was about to make “the biggest mistake of your life.” He also wrote a letter to McCartney.

“Jagger gave me a note in an envelope to take over to Apple addressed to Paul,” Jagger’s assistant Peter Swales said, per the book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles. “It was a warning, maybe in solidarity with him. It was to the effect of ‘Don’t go near him, he’s a dog. He’s a crook.'”

John Lennon said The Beatles were better off quitting while they were ahead

Though the news of the Beatles’ breakup devastated fans, Lennon said it was best to have gone out while they were on top.

“I don’t know, it would have probably gone down the tubes and then been resurrected like everything else,” he told the LA Times in 1980. “I always thought it was best to go out when you’re flying high.”

George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr lean against a white wall. McCartney and Starr smile.
George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr | Bettmann/Contributor via Getty

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He even pointed to a comment by Mick Jagger when sharing why breaking up was the best move.

“We could split in 1970 because we were on top,” he said. “In fact, it was probably the best thing that ever happened to the Beatles myth. I read this book about Mick Jagger where he said after the breakup, ‘At last, we’re No. 1.’ What he didn’t realize was that when we split, we created a bigger thing than if we had stayed. He could never catch up with that.”