Skip to main content

While The Beatles and Rolling Stones usually shrugged off talk of a “rivalry,” the bands certainly kept track of what each other was doing. That came out in their choice of material. From 1964 on, the two bands never recorded the same song — not even a Chuck Berry cover.

With such prolific songwriters in both bands, neither had trouble coming up with material, so covers weren’t a major issue. By ’64, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were in the sort of groove that few songwriters have matched. (On A Hard Day’s Night, every track was a Lennon-McCartney.)

The Stones’ team of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wasn’t far behind. After scoring their second Billboard top-20 hit with “Heart of Stone,” the Jagger-Richards alliance really got on a roll with “Satisfaction,” the band’s first U.S. No. 1.

From that point on, the Beatles and Stones were world famous, and they filled their records with original compositions. That meant two 1963 recordings were the only times both bands released versions of the same songs.

The Beatles and Rolling Stones both covered ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’

The Rolling Stones in '64
1964: “The Rolling Stones” pose for a portrait. | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In 1959, Barrett Strong recorded the Berry Gordy song “Money (That’s What I Want)” for the Tamla label, and the following year it became Motown’s first hit record. All four Beatles were fans of the track, and they recorded a version for the group’s second U.K. album.

The session took place in July ’63, and Lennon delivered a powerhouse vocal that nearly matched his “Twist and Shout” performance from the first album. A few months later (Nov. ’63), the LP hit record stores in the U.K.

By that point, the Stones had recorded the same song for their debut EP. While that record never reached the U.S., listeners in the U.K. found “Money (That’s What I Want)” on side 1 when it hit record stores in Jan. ’64.

If you compare the two versions, you can’t help noting the studio polish of the Beatles’ version. It’s much cleaner, and Lennon seemed to invest a good deal more in his vocal than Jagger. But the Stones were only getting started.

The Rolling Stones and Beatles both recorded ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’

The Beatles in 1965
The Beatles congratulate John Lennon on passing his driving test, 16 February 1965. | Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

During that summer of ’63, The Beatles established themselves as one of England’s biggest bands, and the Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham wanted to know if Lennon and McCartney had a track for his band to record.

As Lennon recalled it in an interview with Dennis Elsas, he and McCartney taught the Stones “I Wanna Be Your Man” on the spot one day. In fact, Lennon said they “virtually finished [the song] off in front of” the Stones.


Paul McCartney Thought The Beatles ‘Would Look Silly’ if They Were Still Touring at 35

The Stones recorded it shortly after that meeting and released it as a single on the first of November. As for The Beatles, Lennon and McCartney gave the track to Ringo for his singing spotlight. (Lennon never thought much of the track.)

Recalling that day years later, Jagger recalled thinking of Lennon and McCartney as “hustlers” peddling their wares (i.e., their original songs). But it worked out for everyone: The Stones scored a No. 12 U.K. hit with “I Wanna Be Your Man.” That was it for songs recorded by both groups.