The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger Dissed Kenny Ball at The Beatles’ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction

The Rolling Stones‘ Mick Jagger inducted The Beatles into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. During his induction speech, he criticized jazz musician Kenny Ball. Notably, Jagger revealed he wasn’t a fan of Ball’s most famous song.

The Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger with a microphone
The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger | Evening Standard/Getty Images

The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger said The Beatles had a significant impact on English pop music

When Jagger inducted The Beatles into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, he thanked members of the band for writing “I Wanna Be Your Man,” which became one of The Rolling Stones’ early hits. Furthermore, Jagger praised their effect on English music. “But the example of the way they wrote, and the original way that they — they crafted their songs wasn’t lost on us,” Jagger said. “And later on their success in America broke down a lot of doors that helped everyone else from England that followed. And I thank them very much for all those things.”

The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger felt English pop music was bad before The Beatles

During his speech, Jagger said English pop music wasn’t stellar before The Beatles broke through. “When I got here tonight, I saw George [Harrison] and he said, ‘You aren’t going to say anything bad about me, are you?'” Jagger recalled. “I couldn’t think of anything, really — on the spur of the moment — bad to say about — because in England during those very early days, just while The Beatles were recording their first songs, it was a real wasteland.”

Jagger decided to call out specific artists. “England had nothing really to offer as far as pop music was concerned,” he said. “The big hits here that came from England were things like Acker Bilk, ‘Stranger on the Shore.’ This is what they thought of in England. ‘A Midnight in Moscow’ by Kenny Ball — now we all remember that one.”


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The way the world reacted to Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen’s ‘Midnight in Moscow’

The song Jagger mentioned was initially called “Moscow Nights.” Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen recorded a version of the song under the name “Midnight in Moscow.” Their cover of the tune reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 14 weeks. None of the group’s other songs charted as highly.

“Midnight in Moscow” was even more popular in the United Kingdom. According to The Official Charts Company, the song peaked at No. 2 there and remained on the chart for 21 weeks. “Midnight in Moscow” became Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen’s biggest hit in the U.K.

The group included it on the album The Best of Barber, Ball Ball & Bilk. The Best of Barber, Ball Ball & Bilk peaked at No. 1 for two weeks in the U.K. It spent 24 total weeks on the chart. While Jagger wasn’t a fan of “Midnight in Moscow,” the song seemed to resonate with listeners in the U.S. and the U.K.