50 Years Ago: The Beatles Write a Song for the Rolling Stones
In the early days of the Beatles, John Lennon and Paul McCartney often gave songs to their friends. They wrote one of them, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man,’ for the Rolling Stones at London’s De Lane Lea Studio on Sept. 10, 1963.
The meeting of the two groups was arranged by Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who had also been the Beatles publicist. “Oldham had almost literally bumped into Lennon and McCartney as they stepped out of a cab,” writes Bill Janovitz in ‘Rocks Off: 50 Tracks that Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones. “He invited them to the studio where the Stones were rehearsing, and right then and there, the two finished off what had been a McCartney sketch of an idea, handing it the Stones for their single.”
At the time, the Stones had only released one single, a cover of Chuck Berry‘s ‘Come On,’ which had been released in June, and their repertoire consisted exclusively of R&B covers. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards would later credit being able to watch Lennon and McCartney that day with giving them a greater understanding of how to write a song. Which came in handy later, when Oldham famously locked them in the kitchen until they composed something. The result? ‘As Tears Go By.’
Meanwhile, Lennon and McCartney had become a prolific songwriting team, frequently giving cast-offs to friends like Gerry and the Pacemakers (‘Do You Want to Know a Secret’), Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (‘Bad to Me’) and Cilla Black (‘Step Inside Love’).
Naturally, a few changes needed to be made. The Stones put a tougher R&B beat behind the song and Brian Jones contributed its distinctive slide guitar part. They recorded the song it a month later, and it was released on Nov. 1. ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ reached No. 12 on the U.K. charts. The Beatles’ version came out three weeks later on ‘With the Beatles,’ with Ringo Starr taking the lead vocal.