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The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones: A Live Smackdown Rematch

Two all-star teams, including actor Mike Myers and NPR host Ophira Eisenberg, throw down over the two legendary bands at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Monday, March 03, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Paul Myers and Mike Myers, on stage at the Beatles vs. Stones Soundcheck Smackdown. Paul Myers and Mike Myers, on stage at the Beatles vs. Stones Soundcheck Smackdown. (Michael Katzif / WNYC)

On Thursday, Feb. 27, Soundcheck hosted an all-star Beatles vs. Rolling Stones Smackdown at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. In front of a crowd of more than 200 people, two teams fiercely battled over which band is better -- pitting album versus album, guitarist versus guitarist, song versus song -- and, of course, debating the sex appeal of each band. 

Take a listen to this excerpt: 

Beatles vs. Stones Smackdown Highlights

Arguing for The Beatles were comedian, actor, and director Mike Myers (Wayne's WorldAustin Powers, and Shrek); and writer and musician Paul Myers, author of the acclaimed biographies A Wizard A True Star: Todd Rundgren In The Studio, and It Ain't Easy: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues.

And taking on the Myers brothers on behalf of The Rolling Stones: Ophira Eisenberg, comedian, writer and host of NPR and WNYC’s Ask Me Another; and Bill Janovitz, frontman of the alt-rock band Buffalo Tom, and author of Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell The Story of The Rolling Stones, and the 33 1/3 series' book about Exile On Main Street.

<p>Arguing for The Beatles were comedian, actor, and director&nbsp;<strong>Mike Myers</strong>&nbsp;(<em>Wayne's World</em>,&nbsp;<em>Austin Powers</em>, and&nbsp;<em>Shrek</em>); and writer and musician&nbsp;<strong>Paul Myers</strong>, author of the acclaimed biographies&nbsp;<em>A Wizard A True Star: Todd Rundgren In The Studio</em>, and&nbsp;<em>It Ain't Easy: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues</em>.</p>
<p>And taking on the Myers brothers on behalf of The Rolling Stones:&nbsp;<strong>Ophira Eisenberg</strong>, comedian, writer and&nbsp;host of NPR and WNYC&rsquo;s&nbsp;<em>Ask Me Another</em>; and&nbsp;<strong>Bill Janovitz</strong>, frontman of the alt-rock band Buffalo Tom, and author of&nbsp;<em>Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell The Story of The Rolling Stones</em>, and the 33 1/3 series' book about&nbsp;<em>Exile On Main Street</em>.</p>

We'll air the entire debate on Thursday, March 6 at 9 pm E.T. -- or you can listen at Soundcheck.org. 

 

The debaters, clockwise from top left: Bill Janovitz, Ophira Eisenberg, Mike Myers and Paul Myers.

 

Tell us which side you're on! Leave a comment below, or call us up at 866.939.1612.

 

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Comments [22]

maikehasi2014 from Dhaka

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May. 03 2014 03:05 AM
ralph from New York

We're comparing apples to oranges. The Beatles were a vocal band first and foremost. The Stones were/are a performance band whose emphasis was less on vocals and more abut the playing of the music. When I saw Keith being interviewed a few years ago at NYPL, he explicitly said the same thing.

Apr. 29 2014 07:48 AM
Steve from New York

I think the Beatles are superior. One of the Stone's earliest hits was a Beatles song, "I wanna be your man." And the Stones completely ripped off the Beatles with "we love you," just silly. Did the Beatles ever try to rip the stones off? Of course not! The Beatles were simply better songwriters. I think the Beatles could easily write a Stones song, but I'm not so sure the Stones could write a Beatles song. And as for the drummer, I think Ringo was an excellent drummer with excellent taste, and his drum parts are often add a lot to the song instead of just providing a beat, like in Ticket to Ride, the beautiful fills on Day In The Life and Rain, the drum solo on Dear Prudence (but I've read that might've been Paul). Also the Beatles were the first to put feedback on a song in I Feel Fine. They revolutionized recording and using the studio as an instrument. Not sure if the Beatles can really take credit for it but the engineers were the first to close mic a drum a drum set. I should say I haven't listened to as much Stones as the Beatles, but I have heard all their hits I think and it's really the same things repeated over and over, which are really great things, extremely catchy, great party music, but better than the Beatles? I think no way. Plus the Beatles influence is enormous, no question greater than the Stones. Kurt Cobain listened to Beatles for like 4 hours before writing About A Girl. Oasis, one of the biggest bands of the 90s, so many Beatles references. Big Star, Beach Boys. They even had a mockumentary made based on them, the Rutles. George Harrison funded Monty Python's Life of Brian! I am sure I am missing some contributions by the Stones, but I am pretty confident they dont match the Beatles.

Mar. 10 2014 02:01 PM
Janine from Manhattan

Stones all the way!

Mar. 06 2014 05:04 PM
Paul Tapogna from North Port, Florida

This is great! When do we debate apples vs. oranges? I can't wait.

Mar. 04 2014 08:21 PM
Stanley Telega

Simply subjective reality. I love them both but 10 albums on an island? 6 Beatles 1 Stones, Schuberts Trout, Beethoven's Fifth
Beethovens ode to Joy

Mar. 04 2014 07:13 PM

The Stones.

Mar. 04 2014 12:22 PM
Paul Tapogna from North Port, Florida

This is great! When do we debate apples vs. oranges? I can't wait.

Mar. 04 2014 08:19 AM
Scott Parker from Pennsylvania

I know the Beatles were first and Bill Janovitz put it perfectly in his book Rocks Off. He said you can write a book about the Beatles without mentioning the Stones but you can never write a book about the Stones without mentioning the Beatles. The Stones took it so much further though. When things got tough in their personal lives and not being able to play live anymore, The Beatles folded. That's when the Stones really took off. So the Beatles weren't leading the way anywhere after about 68. STILL ROCKING AFTER 50 YEARS IS THE GREATEST ROCK & ROLL BAND IN THE WORLD........

Mar. 01 2014 06:47 PM
Claude Barnes from Toronto

For me it's The Beatles.
Many bands today are still influenced by The Beatles. I can't think of one band today trying to imitate The Stones.
BUT
if you go DRUMMER VS DRUMMER, I have to pick Charlie over Ringo. I've always been a big fan of Ringo's but Mr Watts out drums the pants off of Ringo.

Mar. 01 2014 05:41 PM
Jack from NYC

If you think rock is anthemic you can have the Beatles (All You Need is Love)
If you think rock is playful and childlike, you can have the Beatles (Yellow Submarine)you can have the Beatles
If you think rock is a pretty man-child crooning Broadway tunes, (Till There Was You)
If you think rock owes a debt to the English music hall, then the Beatles are for you (Your Mother Should Know)
If you think rock is about the soft side of Motown, or a girl group like the Marvelettes, then the Beatles are for you (You've Really Got a Hold on Me/Please Mr. Postman)
or pretty harmonies (We Can Work It Out)

But if you think rock and roll is the Bo Diddley Beat and Robert Johnson's slide guitar, and selling your soul (Their Satanic Majesties' Requet) and then getting it back (Beggar's Banquet). If you believe in the verb "chooglin'" and the sound of the train in Keith Richards' guitar as it inexorably delivers the Midnight Rambler. If you believe in the menace of "Gimme Shelter" and the group that blew up the 60s at Altamont. If you believe in the band that believed in only one thing: rythm n' blues. Then it's the Stones

Mar. 01 2014 05:07 PM
Alex de Bordes from New York

For me, a teenager at the time of The British Invasion, it was all much too exciting to pit one band against the other. The Stones called attention to the Blues, but so did The Paul Butterfield Blues Band ! The Beatles were more influenced by an amalgam of Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly and Elvis, and forged something entirely new. "Satisfaction" was an anthem of our time, but just listen to the musical invention in "Please Please Me" or "I Want to Hold Your Hand". The sweet spot for me is the "Revolver" / "Rubber Soul" period, but who am I to pontificate ! When the Stones opted for originality, they produced "Their Satanic Majesty's Request", an odd work indeed; they were at their best keeping to their adaptation of hart-hitting blues

Feb. 26 2014 10:05 PM
Susan Thames from NYC

The Beatles did everything the Stones did and a whole lot more. Funny, I had this conversation with a guy in 1974. He taught film theory at Brandeis. I was dating a film editor. I took the Beatles then and I take them now.

My godson, 19 and a student at Oberlin, has allowed me to revisit just how important music is to so many of us as adolescent. A privileged white boy who loves rap, hip hop and dub step, his music is his heartbeat.

But the KINKS! Bring 'em on!

Feb. 24 2014 04:41 PM
Thommy H from Dana Point, CA

Good point that while not initially making much of a splash here, but they grew on us.
I will say for them that seeing Brian introduce Howlin Wolf on Shindig in 1965 was very
significant. The Beatles really made the biggest splash ever! It was a freakin
Tidal Wave! From music to fashion and defining what we now call
'Popular Culture' they innovated and inspired in so many ways,
and this cannot be underestimated. Really can't imagine the Stones making
any inroads here without the Beatles kicking the doors down first! :-)

Feb. 23 2014 12:04 AM
Loki Cuffari from Metro NYC

My parents though the Beatles were cute, but my mom threw out my older sister's Stones records. That sealed it for me. Plus, my dad was a guitarist and taught me to play blues pretty young... the Stones' music always resonated so much more for me. (As far as embracing their roots, here's some hard core recent authenticity that I just can't picture Macca pulling off http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE7JIPAynOs) And I always thought that if just about any set of talented kids had the unlimited studio time and budgets (and timing!) that the Beatles did they may very well have had the same success. As far as longevity: Mick's songs are often tedious after teh late '80's, but Keith is still my man. Case in point: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xv9y7q_the-rolling-stones-doom-and-gloom-full-version-official-video-hd-1080p_music

Feb. 22 2014 04:32 PM
Eric from New Brunswick, NJ

I've always felt that this debate is directly tied to growing up and experiencing the world.

When you're young and naive, you tend to lean closer to the Beatles. Then when you grow up, have some experiences, and get a little jaded, you learn to really appreciate the Rolling Stones. At least that's how it was for me. Anyone else?

Feb. 21 2014 01:13 PM
Hank Gilman from Wetschester


The Mick Taylor Stones. But personally: 1. Kinks 2. The Who. 3. The Stones. 4. The Beatles. 5. The Zombies (Colin Blunstone performing at City Winery in May! Get him in the studio for an interview!!!)

hg

Feb. 20 2014 10:25 PM
Gary Matson

- wayne cotter makes an important point in reminding us that the stones helped america rediscover its musical roots in the blues -- the stones by themselves did more to bring the blues to people, and people to the blues, than the whole folk/blues scene of the early 60s --
- howlin' wolf, jimmy reed, muddy waters, slim harpo, robert wilkins, robert johnson, are just the first names that come to mind in a long list of artists that many fans learned about via the stones --
- that the stones still honor the blues was shown vividly in "shine a light", when keith took off his guitar and presented it to buddy guy --
- and the bluesiness of the stones accounts for one of the main differences between them and the beatles: when you want to dance, pick the stones --

Feb. 20 2014 04:35 PM
Silvia Betzer from New York City

The Beatles! No question, the greatest band ever!
Their legacy goes beyond the music, as they gave the world a new way of thinking, with the recurring themes of love and peace.

Feb. 20 2014 01:57 PM
Gary Matso

- i noted that the beatles were great "together or apart" -- their greatness as a band is indisputable -- there's no need for me to try to prove that -- i was not judging the band's impact based on its members' solo careers, but making the point that beyond their group success, they had individual successes unmatched by any stones -- the beatles' solo careers are more evidence (if any were needed) of the depth of their talent --

Feb. 19 2014 06:04 PM
Wayne Cotter

Not sure I would judge the impact of each group based on the respective solo careers of the group's members as Gary Matson has done. We are looking at the groups here, not the careers of indvidual members. Nevertheless, I would have to agree with Mr. Matson and cast my vote for the Beatles over the Stones. The Beatles set the bar for all other performers - they influenced Motown, Brian Wilson, even the Stones tried to match Sgt. Pepper with Their Satanic Majesties Request. It should be noted that the Stones were far more blues-oriented than the Beatles and, as such, helped America re-discover its blues roots. In addition, the Stones were grittier, sexier, more outrageous than the fab four, but the Beatles were the better song-writers and visionaries. No question about it, the Beatles win!

Feb. 19 2014 05:20 PM
Gary Matson

- the stones make great music as a band, but the beatles were great together or apart --
- consider the respective solo careers of these groups -- each of the individual beatles has had well-known hits on the charts -- ringo & paul continue to tour, george did sold-out concerts, and if john did not rack up similar big audience numbers, it was only because he chose to avoid the spotlight --
- on the other hand, most people would be hard put to name hits (or maybe any songs at all) done by individual rolling stones -- nor do solo stones have impressive touring histories --

Feb. 19 2014 02:20 PM

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