Who Was It? The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?


By: Zoe Samuel

7 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons by ingen uppgift / Wiki Commons by Iberia Airlines

About This Quiz

The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were both British Invasion bands, but that is not where the similarities end. Both groups appeared on television, pushing the boundaries of the medium. Both appeared in films, making movies that were very much of the same school as their music. Both bands took part in political activism. Both groups remain popular to this day.

Still, there is a wide gulf between the still-active Rolling Stones and The Beatles, who broke up decades ago. It could be argued that one band's song catalog contributed more to their success, while the other's knack for showmanship provided them with the lift they needed. One group achieved all their success in a very short period, while the other's success is due in large part to its consistent work over time. Either way, the most significant difference between the two bands is their music itself. While The Beatles broke new ground, The Rolling Stones had musicians with superior technical ability and perhaps the greatest frontman of all time in Mick Jagger. While The Beatles' albums are all amazing, The Rolling Stones' records aren't always fantastic. On the other hand, The Stones were dynamic concert performers in ways The Beatles weren't.

How well can you tell the two bands apart if we take the labels off? It's time to test that knowledge with this quiz!

Of The Beatles and The Stones, which originally went by the very geological name "The Quarrymen"?

While quarries and stones may have a natural association, it was Lennon's original creation of The Quarrymen that evolved into what would later go by The Beatles. The name came from the name of Lennon's high school: Quarry Bank High School.


Was it The Stones or The Beatles who had one band member who was once in a band with Rod Stewart?

Before joining The Stones in 1974, Ron Wood was a member of many bands, one of which was called Faces. Faces were short-lived, but just imagine what it must have been like to have The Stones' lead guitarist playing with Rod Stewart singing! Imagine no more, because you can just listen to their music.


Was it The Stones or The Fab Four who saw a major backlash from the religious community in the wake of a 1966 interview?

There are only a few rules people learn when in media training. Keep answers short and answer the question you wish you'd been asked, regardless of what was actually asked. Then there's the "don't compare yourself to Jesus" rule. In 1966, John Lennon did an interview with The Evening Standard in which he said the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus," and explicitly taking Christianity to task. The religious community was not amused.


Who has more former band members, assuming one considers the final Beatles lineup to be "current"?

The Stones notch a numerical victory of sorts, as they had far more band members over the years than their peers from Liverpool. The Beatles only really had one "fifth Beatle:" Pete Best, the band's original drummer. The Rolling Stones, however, count four former band members in Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor, Ian Stewart and Brian Jones.


Going with just the core members, which band produced the most children?

It's Stones 20, Beatles 11. Mick Jagger has eight children (with five women, the most recent one 44 years his junior), Ronnie Wood has six (one adopted), Charlie Watts has one, Bill Wyman (the band's longtime bassist) has four, and Keith Richards has had five children. John Lennon had only two children, Paul had five, George had one, and Ringo has three.


Was it The Beatles or The Stones whose record producer pushed a backup singer so hard that she miscarried?

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," or at least that's the saying from the namesake of record producer Jack Nitzsche, who recorded the Stones' "Gimme Shelter." Deciding that the track needed a female voice, he summoned soul singer Merry Clayton, pushing her to exhaustion even though she was pregnant at the time. When the recording session was over, Clayton went home to rest, only to miscarry.


Which band was crowned the greatest of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine, in 2004?

Yes, "Rolling Stone" Magazine preferred The Beatles to The Rolling Stones. It sounds insane, but much of the declaration was due to popular demand by readership; the magazine polled its readers about which bands were the best, which albums, etc. The top three albums on their "Greatest of All Time" list were all Beatles albums.


Who had the number one album for 30 weeks?

Both bands have had some unexpected successes, but The Beatles hold the distinction of having their debut album "Please Please Me" lock into the number one spot for 30 weeks! Of course, since there were no other Beatles albums to buy at that time, it rather concentrates sales on itself.


Which band had more number-one Billboard hits in the U.S.?

The Beatles have The Stones beat in this area with a total of 20 number one hits. The Stones "only" notched 10 number ones with Billboard. Of course, The Beatles' accomplishment is even more impressive when you consider that despite both bands forming around the same time, The Beatles broke up decades ago, while The Stones have kept recording and touring.


Both bands had their share of fights. Was it a member of The Beatles or The Rolling Stones who had a fight in a hotel involving a drummer, who prepared for it by shaving and shining his shoes?

According to The Stones' fanzine's author Bill German, who followed The Stones from 1978 to 1994, the band had a meeting in a hotel in Amsterdam about the future of the group in which Jagger referred to Watts in the diminutive as "my drummer"; treating him as a hired gun. That night, Watts shaved, shined his shoes, put on a suit, and visited Jagger's room. When Jagger answered the door, Watts decked him and walked away.


Who didn't write an original song until forced to do so by a manager?

The Rolling Stones were once a cover band, as is the wont of many groups who fall in love with the art of their role models. Having run out of songs to cover, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were locked in a room by their manager, who said he would not let them out until they wrote something original. The song they wrote ended up on their first album.


Which band sold the most albums, as of 2016?

The Beatles' success is orders of magnitude larger than The Stones' when it comes to album sales. While, if one includes digital downloads, the Rolling Stones sold 269,226,000 by 2016, the Beatles sold more than two billion albums by 2012.


Which band had a logo designed for them, allegedly drawing on inspiration from Hindu mythology?

While The Beatles' adventures in spirituality are well documented, it was The Rolling Stones who ended up with a logo invoking the Hindu goddess of creation, Kali, or at least that's the lore. When John Pasche, the graphic designer who penned the logo was asked about its origins, he said he was thinking about Mick Jagger's mouth, and sticking one's tongue out at oppressive culture.


Which of the two greatest British rock bands had their first hit become public domain in 2012?

"Love Me Do" was The Beatles' first hit, way back in 1962. Due to the way copyright laws work in Europe, the song became public domain in 2012, 50 years after it was published. Of course, in the land of Disney, where copyright law is high art, this isn't so.


Between the two, which band had the highest-grossing tour?

When it comes to sheer money, The Rolling Stones' success with concert tours buries The Beatles. The Stones own the fourth all-time slot for highest-grossing concerts, with their "A Bigger Bang Tour," back in 2005-2007, if you go by the unaltered gross of $558,255,524. Adjusting for inflation, they're at number three.


Which band is said to have invented the term "groupie"?

Myth and legend are inextricably tied to rock and roll, and especially to rock and roll legends. Such legends have it that while on tour in Australia, then-bandmate Bill Wyman coined the term "groupie" to describe the women who followed the band.


Who lead the first musical tour with corporate sponsors?

The Rolling Stones' 1981 "Tattoo You" tour was sponsored by Jovan Perfume, a major brand at the time. While this doesn't sound very remarkable today, it was a massive deal at the time because it was the first time a concert tour was used as a sort of branded content.


Did the Stones or Beatles collaborate with Run-D.M.C.?

The Stones are often confused with Aerosmith because of similarities between the two bands' genres and their frontmen, both of whom are flamboyant, skinny men with big lips. It was Aerosmith who collaborated with Run-D.M.C. on "Walk This Way," not The Rolling Stones or, of course, The Beatles.


Of The Beatles and The Stones, who sued Steve Jobs?

Technically, neither band sued Steve Jobs. Apple Records, the label started by The Beatles, sued Apple Computer for copyright infringement, obtaining a ruling in 1981 prohibiting Apple Computer from entering the music business. When Apple Computer opened iTunes in 2003, Apple Records sued again, losing despite the past ruling.


Which awesome rock band pioneered the practice of having the lyrics of all songs printed on the album's liner notes?

People have always read meaning into the lyrics of great musicians, but until "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band" came out, no one could actually read all of the lyrics. With this milestone album, The Beatles began the practice of having every lyric for every song printed with the physical album, making it possible to read along while listening. It sounds simple, but it was a revelation.


Who wrote "I Wanna Be Your Man"?

The Rolling Stones may have performed it, but John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote it. The early Stones hit was written by The Beatles because they were actually pretty close, and any perceived rivalry was purely friendly.


Whose music nearly won a Grammy in 1999, for which they didn't get credit?

The Stones didn't sing or play on the track. Still, The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony," which was nominated for a Grammy in 1999 in the "Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal" category, sampled an orchestral version of "The Last Time" by The Rolling Stones. The Stones sued. While they didn't get what they asked for in the suit (namely 100% of the revenue from the song), they were added to the songwriting credits.


Of The Beatles and The Stones, who had a percussionist who designed their album art?

Charlie Watts, the drummer in The Rolling Stones, had a backup career ready to go in case music didn't work out; he was trained as a graphic designer. Of course, no one gets into art because it's anything less than a calling, so he put his visual skills to work for the band, designing their concert posters, stages, and even album covers.


Which all-time great rock band was pelted with a much loved sweet, prompting one band member to beg for it to stop?

Many Beatles fans were young, and while they wanted to throw something nice onto the stage to thank their idols, the shape this often took early on was that of Jelly Babies, a kind of sweet candy common in the UK and familiar to OG fans of "Doctor Who." A 1964 letter by Harrison begging a fan to stop throwing candy was sold at auction in 2012.


Was it The Stones or The Fab Four who played their first gig during the World's Fair?

The Rolling Stones' first concert was on July 12, 1962, at The Marquee Club in London. That concert took place right in the middle of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, better known as The Century 21 Exposition, which featured the architectural wonder that is The Space Needle.


Was it The Stones or The Beatles who could not read music?

You'd think that being the greatest band of all time, the most successful music act ever, and the fulcrum around which 20th-century popular culture pivoted might involve knowing how to read music since music was their raison d'être, but it was beyond the scope of what The Beatles could do. The Stones, especially since they have had so many replacements over the years, know how to read music.


Was it John, Paul, and the boys, or The Stones who recently saw a record (in the sense of achievement) fall, due to the way streaming works?

Drake recently broke The Beatles' record of having all top five slots in the Billboard Hot 100, a feat he accomplished via streaming services. Part of the reason for this is that when one listens to a track via a streaming service but does not switch to another album, the service will play all successive songs from that album, registering with Billboard as if one had requested them on the radio. Drake's songs in the top five were in the order they appear on his album.


Municipal property in Los Angeles is regularly stolen due to a song by either The Beatles or The Stones. Who wrote that song?

1967 saw the release of The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" album, which featured the song "Blue Jay Way," a reference to the location of a recording studio where the band worked on the album. Rock fans being who they were in the 1960s, this resulted in the repeated theft of signs for Blue Jay Way, a strange case of souvenir hunters and a municipality locking horns.


Which band had members who were the subjects of FBI files?

J. Edgar Hoover famously had files on John Lennon due to Lennon's involvement in anti-Vietnam War groups in the early 1970s. Given that the FBI was involved in at least one drug bust involving the Stones, he would have had one on at least one of them as well. Of course, he also had dossiers on The Grateful Dead, the TV show "Laugh-In" and even Albert Einstein.


Both bands are in the top 20 artists in the Billboard Hot 100's all time champions, but who holds the lowest spot in the top 20?

Indeed, The Rolling Stones don't quite make it into the top 10 for Billboard's Hot 100 all-time hottest artists, coming in at just 11, which is still amazing, but not quite as hot as Rihanna or Whitney Houston. Paul McCartney comes in just under The Stones, at 12.


Was it The Beatles or The Stones who invented a fictional name for themselves, as songwriters?

Have you ever heard of Nanker and Phelge? This dynamic duo wrote two songs on The Rolling Stones' first album. The names were actually a pseudonym for the whole band when a song was by more than just Jagger and Richards, or an outside songwriter. Some songs, it's said, are erroneously credited to just a couple of The Stones when, in fact, they should be credited to "Nanker/Phelge."


Was it The Stones or The Beatles who produced the longest single?

The Beatles' longest single was "Hey, Jude," which comes in at seven minutes and 15 seconds, which is long by any standard ... except for the standard set by "Going Home" by The Rolling Stones. The Stones' track is 11 minutes and 19 seconds long, daring radio managers to try playing it at risk of not playing anything else between commercial breaks.


Who had a higher total number of wives?

When it comes to the sheer number of marriages, The Beatles totally dominate the numbers. Collectively, The Beatles have had nine wives, though of course not all of them are ex-wives in the sense of divorce, since not all the marriages ended due to divorce. The Rolling Stones total on six wives, assuming you count Mick Jagger's marriage to Jerry Hall, which a British court declared invalid because it hadn't followed proper legal procedure.


Was it The Beatles or The Rolling Stones who pushed for an appearance in a film version of "The Lord of The Rings"?

Not only would having The Beatles appear in "The Lord of The Rings" be amazing, but the way they wanted it to go down would have been even more amazing. Like many boomers, The Beatles grew up on Tolkein and loved the "Rings" series. They also had a thing for Stanley Kubrick, director of "The Shining" and "2001: A Space Odyssey," and wanted him to direct it. Just imagine that.


Was it the boys from Liverpool or the Stones who were published by the fewest record labels?

The Beatles' work was published by 10 record labels. Just imagine how much money a single record label would have made if they'd published all of The Beatles' catalog. The Rolling Stones, on the other hand, only released albums with six record labels: Decca, Virgin, ABKCO, Interscope, Polydor and their own Rolling Stones label.


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