During the British Invasion, some rabid fans naturally fought over the perceived superiority of either of Britain’s two biggest groups: the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. That fight subsided after the Beatles broke up and the Stones rolled on, but it’s revived here by author John McMillian in Beatles vs. Stones (Simon & Schuster, $25, due Oct. 29, 2013).
How much of this contention is justified, and how much is mere hype? McMillian makes a steady case for the former in his detailed survey of each band’s emergence as rock royalty. But he’s more persuasive citing ways the bands differed or were mirror images than fostering feuds beyond understandable artistic and commercial rivalries.
For me, comparisons of the bands are more intriguing than substantiations of the book’s premise. McMillian paints a potent portrait of how the Beatles scrambled their way to “overnight” fame by paying dues for years, unlike the Stones, who quickly ascended in their wake, and how the Beatles’ solidarity as a foursome (after adding Ringo Starr) contrasted with the bickering, splintered Stones, whose Brian Jones was a trouble-making monster. (more…)