It’s been more than half a century since The Beatles and Rolling Stones reinvented the idea of rock and roll in their own unique styles. And while they have always remained cordial, there is one thing the British icons have never done: collaborate in the studio.
That streak looks to end on the Stones’ upcoming studio album. A spokesperson for the Stones confirmed to Billboard in an email on Thursday (Feb. 23) that Sir Paul McCartney is “playing bass on a song” on the Mick Jagger-led group’s upcoming album; CNN was first in an on-the-record confirmation of the collaboration.
The exciting news came as the rep also threw cold water on a previous Variety report that cited unnamed sources claiming fellow surviving Beatle drummer Ringo Starr might make the long-awaited superstar summit as well.
“Ringo isn’t appearing,” the rep tells Billboard.
At press time there was no additional information on the album the Stones have reportedly been wrapping work on in Los Angeles with Grammy-winning producer Andrew Watt (Ozzy Osbourne, Justin Bieber); the untitled collection will be the veteran band’s first new studio album of new songs since 2005’s A Bigger Bang.
In addition to McCartney, the Stones album is likely to feature drumming from the group’s late timekeeper Charlie Watts, who died in 2021 at 80. Longtime group friend and touring drummer Steve Jordan told the L.A. Times that Watts had recorded his drum parts for a handful of songs before his passing. At press time neither the Stones nor McCartney had responded to the reports of their collaboration and a spokesperson for Sir Paul had no comment.
The debate about rock supremacy and friendly rivalry between the bands continues to this day, with McCartney telling Howard Stern in a 2020 interview that, “The Stones are a fantastic group, I go to see them every time they come out because they’re a great, great band and Mick can really do it, the singing and the moves, and Keith and now Ronnie and Charlie. They’re great.”
But, as “really, really” great as McCartney thinks they are, he confidently added, “I love ’em… I love The Stones, but I’m with you: The Beatles are better.” Jagger responded a week later in an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe that, “[Paul’s] a sweetheart. There’s obviously no competition. He’s a sweetheart.” Jagger noted that the Stones have continued to tour consistently into their sixth decade, while the Beatles quit the road in 1966.
“One band is a… unbelievably luckily still playing in stadiums and then the other band doesn’t exist,” Jagger said. The decadeslong back-and-forth continued a year later when McCartney took a polite swipe at the Stones in a New Yorker profile, describing them as a “blues cover band.”
Though the groups never collaborated on any studio recordings in their prime — or since — McCartney and late Beatle John Lennon wrote the Stones’ first hit, 1963’s “I Wanna Be Your Man” and Jagger was in the studio when the Beatles tracked 1967’s “All You Need Is Love.”