The Beatles and the Rolling Stones are two bands that have always been compared to each other. Sometimes, fans fueled the comparisons. Sometimes John Lennon himself compared the Fab Four to Mick Jagger’s band.
Over the years, certain people have accused the Rolling Stones of mimicking the Beatles. John was one of those people. He felt one of the Stones’ classic hits was too similar to the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love.”
Is a popular Rolling Stones song a rip-off of a Beatles song?
In an interview with Jann S. Wenner of Rolling Stone, Wenner asked John if he saw Jagger much. John answered in the negative. He also had harsh critiques of the Stones.
John said he got upset when Jagger insulted the Beatles “I can knock the Beatles, but don’t let Mick Jagger knock them. I would like to just list what we did and what the Stones did two months after on every f*ckin’ album…And I would like one of you f*ckin’ underground people to point it out, you know [Their Satanic Majesties Request] is [Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band], ‘We Love You,’ it’s the most f*ckin’ b*llshit, that’s ‘All You Need Is Love.’”
John’s comments are surprising for a few reasons. First, “We Love You” and “All You Need Is Love” aren’t even in the same genre. “We Love You” is a rock song with prominent drums while “All You Need Is Love” remains one of the most famous baroque pop songs ever. In addition, the lyrics of the two songs aren’t too similar other than being about the general concept of love — which is perhaps the most common song topic of all time! John never explained exactly why he thought “We Love You” was a rip-off of “All You Need Is Love.”
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On top of that, the book The Rolling Stones – All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track says John worked on “We Love You” with Paul McCartney! On a summer day in 1967, Keith Richards went to the studio to work on music, only to find John, Paul, and beat poet Allan Ginsberg in the studio. Ginsberg saw John, Paul, and Jagger sing together to create the song. He later described the trio as looking like both angels and the musical deities in Sandro Botticelli’s paintings.
This raises a question: If John was so opposed to “We Love You,” why didn’t he say so as the song was coming together? John never explained his actions. The biography The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones says “We Love You” reached No. 1 in the United States faster than any earlier Rolling Stones single. The song clearly resonated with people even if John wasn’t a fan.