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‘I Wanna Be Your Man’: When The Beatles Wrote For The Rolling Stones

‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, The Rolling Stones second 45 was released in November 1963, but it was not what Decca Records had originally planned.

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The Rolling Stones I Wanna Be Your Man

The Stones released their second 45 on the first day of November 1963, but it was not what Decca Records had originally planned it to be. The Stones recorded a cover of The Coasters, ‘Poison Ivy ‘ in July as the follow up to ‘Come On’ at Decca studios in West Hampstead with a staff Producer named Michael Barclay. They didn’t get on with Barclay, who was also Eden Kane’s producer, and when it was finished the Stones all hated the record, which is why Decca were eventually persuaded to cancel its release.

One afternoon in early September, prior to beginning their first package tour with the Everly Brothers, Little Richard and Bo Diddley, the Stones were at Studio 51 in London’s Soho trying to come up with another song to record – it needed to be a cover, Mick and Keith hadn’t got into writing things at this point.

Midway through the afternoon their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, left the rehearsal and while walking along Charing Cross Road he spotted Paul McCartney and John Lennon getting out of a cab. The two Beatles had been to a Variety Club luncheon; Paul and John may even have had a drink or two. Oldham hurried over to talk to them and soon all three were on their way back to basement club – less than half an hour after John and Paul’s arrival the Rolling Stones had their new single.

John and Paul played, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ and then the Stones adapted it for themselves, with Brian playing slide guitar. A little under a month later, on 7 October during a day off from their package tour, the Stones returned to London to record at De Lane Lea Studios in Soho. According to Keith around the time the record was released, “I dig that steel solo, Brian made that record with that bottleneck.”

“Paul, being left-handed, amazed me by playing my bass backwards. The Beatles were number one on the chart with She Loves You and we went off that night to play the Ricky Tick Club in Windsor, for £67!” – Bill Wyman

Two weeks after ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ came out it made the UK singles chart on 16 November 1963, eventually climbing to No.12 in January 1964. This despite the New Musical Express offering the opinion that it was, “Not one of Lennon and McCartney’s best numbers. Accent on beat, to the total exclusion of melody.”

Although the NME’s criticism was nothing when compared with a man named Albert Hand who just happened to be President of the UK branch of the Elvis Presley Fan Club. “How many more seemingly untuneful, inharmonious, badly played cacophonies of sound are to be released. If ever a composition was murdered, unmercifully and without parallel, this is it”

The B-side was a mostly instrumental number they called ‘Stoned’, credited to Nanker Phelge, the collective name for a group composition. ‘Stoned’ is an inversion of Green Onions by Booker T and The MG’s; some early pressings of the single had the B-side as ‘Stones’.

The 15LP Rolling stones box set The Studio Albums Vinyl Collection 1971-2016 can be bought here.

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