The Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones was one of the great musical rivalries of the Sixties.
So it was “strange,” as Mick Jagger himself said, to see the Stones pay tribute to the Fab Four at the Desert Trip festival by performing their 1969 Abbey Road song “Come Together.” The Rolling Stones kicked off the inaugural Desert Trip festival on Friday, October 7.
Mick Jagger told the crowd of 75,000 the band was going to do “something strange” by performing “a cover song of some sort of unknown…beat group that you might remember,” he said, pausing meaningfully before “beat group.” “We’re gonna try a cover of one of their tunes.”
It’s unknown what prompted the performance of the John Lennon composition. It might have been Lennon’s birthday, which was Sunday, October 9, or it could have been the festival’s inclusion of Paul McCartney, who played on Saturday. Yahoo reports that McCartney watched the Stones’ performance from a private VIP box and pumped his fist approvingly as they played “Come Together.”
McCartney, for his part, returned the favor when he performed “I Wanna Be Your Man” at his Saturday night concert. McCartney and Lennon wrote the song for the Rolling Stones in the summer of 1963, a time when the Beatles were climbing up the British pop charts while the Stones were still struggling to have a hit. “I Wanna Be Your Man” became a hit for the group. Shortly afterward, the Beatles recorded their own version of the song, which appeared on their 1963 sophomore album, With the Beatles, sung by drummer Ringo Starr.
“Last night the Stones did us a tribute and played one of the Beatles songs,” McCartney announced at his show. “We’re gonna play one of theirs now. It’s actually their first hit in England, and it’s one that me and John wrote for them.”
You can watch both clips below.
The Desert Trip festival, which ran from October 7 through 9, also featured appearances by Bob Dylan, who opened the event, Neil Young, who opened for McCartney, and Sunday’s performance tandem of the Who and Roger Waters.