Beatles vs. Stones
By John McMillian
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781439159699, 288pp.)
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
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Boasting the intellectual rigor of a historian and the passion of a diehard fan—a groundbreaking narrative account of the biggest and most misconstrued rivalry in the annals of rock and roll.
In the 1960s an epic battle was waged between the two biggest bands in the world—the clean-cut, mop-topped Beatles and the badboy Rolling Stones. Both groups liked to maintain that they weren’t really “rivals”—that was just a media myth, they politely said—and yet they plainly competed for commercial success and aesthetic credibility. On both sides of the Atlantic, fans often aligned themselves with one group or the other. In Beatles vs. Stones, John McMillian gets to the truth behind the ultimate rock and roll debate.
Painting an eye-opening portrait of a generation dragged into an ideological battle between Flower Power and New Left militance, McMillian reveals how the Beatles-Stones rivalry was created by music managers intent on engineering a moneymaking empire. He describes how the Beatles were marketed as cute and amiable, when in fact they came from hardscrabble backgrounds in Liverpool. By contrast, the Stones were cast as an edgy, dangerous group, even though they mostly hailed from the chic London suburbs. For many years, writers and historians have associated the Beatles with the gauzy idealism of the “good” sixties, placing the Stones as representatives of the dangerous and nihilistic “bad” sixties. Beatles vs. Stones explodes that split, ultimately revealing unseen realities about America’s most turbulent decade through its most potent personalities and its most unforgettable music.
John McMillian is assistant professor of history at Georgia State University and author of the critically acclaimed Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America. His writing has appeared in scholarly journals, magazines, and major newspapers. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Praise for Smoking Typewriters:
"The story that John McMillian tells in Smoking Typewriters and the lessons he implies are at once admonitory and inspirational; this is a work of serious scholarship that suggests both a call to resurgent action and a demand that people do better next time."
—Roz Kaveney, Times Literary Supplement
“McMillian turns the clock back to the college radicals who shaped the influential underground press to give voice to the disfranchised, in his highly detailed book. Not only does he show the rich yet erratic contribution of the publications and their founders, but he reveals FBI Director Hoover's plots against them, employing infiltrators, wiretaps, forged documents, and smear campaigns… McMillian has contributed a solid and informed commentary on the New Left's independent press.” —Publishers Weekly
"Readable, richly detailed study of the hundreds of anti-establishment 1960s newspapers . . . A welcome book on the '60s--a nostalgia trip for those who were there and a vivid work of history for anyone curious about the journalism that jolted a decade."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Meticulously researched and richly written with humor, tragedy, and grace." —Library Journal
“A lively chronicle of the dedication, ecstasies, nuttiness, pathologies, and generational cockiness of the 1960s left that the decade's underground press reported and embodied." —The American Prospect