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Many artists made music that sounds like The Rolling Stones’ work, including David Bowie, at least in Mick Jagger’s estimation. Specifically,  Jagger said one of Bowie’s 1970s hits sounded like The Rolling Stones. Here’s what Bowie thought about the comparison — and how the public reacted to the song.

David Bowie | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

How Mick Jagger reacted when David Bowie played him a song that sounded like The Rolling Stones

Bowie crossed paths with Jagger artistically in multiple ways. For example, Bowie covered The Rolling Stone’s “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and he recorded “Dancing in the Street” as a duet with Jagger. In addition, the singers used to hang out with each other.

Jagger wrote about Bowie in Rolling Stone not long after Bowie’s death. “I can’t remember how I met David — which is weird — but we used to hang out in London a lot in the early days of the Seventies; we were at a lot of parties together,” Jagger recalled. “He would come around my house and play me all his music — I remember him playing me different mixes of ‘Jean Genie,’ which was really kind of Stones-y, in a way. That’s what I enjoyed: watching him develop as an artist.” 

“The Jean Genie”

Was ‘The Jean Genie’ Mick Jagger’s favorite David Bowie song?

Interestingly, Jagger cited “Let’s Dance” as his favorite Bowie song and not “The Jean Genie” even though he noticed similarities between “The Jean Genie” and The Rolling Stones’ music. Jagger enjoyed “Let’s Dance” because of its rhythm. In addition, the song reminded him of a time in the 1980s when his friendship with Bowie was very close.

Did David Bowie want ‘The Jean Genie’ to sound like Mick Jagger or The Rolling Stones?

According to Rolling Stone, Bowie intended “The Jean Genie” to sound like The Rolling Stone’s early work. Bowie said “I wanted to get the same sound as the Stones had on their first album on the harmonica.” The album in question was The Rolling Stone’s self-titled album from 1964. “I didn’t get that near to it but it had a feel that I wanted – that ‘60s thing.” However, The Rolling Stones weren’t the only influence on the song, as its instrumentation was inspired by Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man.”

Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man”

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How did the public react to David Bowie’s ‘The Jean Genie?’

Bowie took inspiration from one of the most popular bands ever when he wrote “The Jean Genie.” Fittingly, the song found success — at least in the United Kingdom. According to The Official Charts Company, the track reached No. 2 in the United Kingdom. The track didn’t catch on in the United States as much, merely reaching No. 71 on the Billboard Hot 100. Jagger thought “The Jean Genie” had some elements of The Rolling Stones’ music — and that’s exactly what Bowie intended.