A scruffy lil R&B combo from the Deep South…of London

Everybody knows how The Beatles made the Rolling Stones stars so I’ll…tell the story again!

The Stones’ debut single, a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On” had narrowly missed the Top 20. A proposed follow up of “Poison Ivy”/”Fortune Teller” was cancelled at the last minute, perhaps because both songs were far too popular amongst the beat groups now popping up everywhere. Or perhaps just because the Stones’ versions were lame. Their second single had to be more powerful, more original, more commercial yet more uncompromising.

Luckily Andrew “Loog” Oldham, the Stones’ manager and a former employee of Brian Epstein, bumped into John & Paul one day in the street. The two promised to help and took a taxi to a Stones rehearsal. Lennon tried to sell his own “One After 909”, a number harking back to the skiffle days of the Quarry Men and one that The Beatles had somewhat unsuccesfully attempted to record in March (see Anthology 1 for that version.) It was met with little enthusiasm though. Luckily Paul’s unfinished R&B number “I Wanna Be Your Man” was deemed suitable so the song writing Beatles disappeared into another room to finish the number. The two returned moments later and astonished everyone by declaring the song finished.


“I Wanna Be Your Man” would become the Rollling Stones’ first Top 20 hit (#12 to be ptecise) when released in November. Even more importantly John and Paul’s seemingly effortless song writing demonstration assure the group -or at least manager Oldham!- that writing your own material was the way to go. Literally locking Mick & Keef in the same room to write songs was probably the brightest decision of his career playing paving way for their rise to the second biggest group of the 60’s.

(These stories usually fail to mention that The Beatles themselves started recording their own version of the song merely days after they’d “donated” it to the Stones. The Beatles version featuring Ringo Starr was released three weeks after the Stones’ version, on the group’s second LP “With The Beatles”.)

The Stones’ version is available on a number of places, like the Singles Collection – The London Years.

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Published in: on June 8, 2007 at 1:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

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