The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger and The Beach Boys have never seen eye to eye, which comes as a surprise considering they were the leading lights of the thrilling cultural uprising of the 1960s on the different sides of the Atlantic. Then in 1988, the pair came to blows in the most public of settings.
Jagger has kept his opinions on The Beach Boys to himself over the last half a century and only criticised the band on record once. Still, that is one time too many in the eyes of the bitter Mike Love. Love bizarrely made it his prerogative to get his own back on The Stones singer, who was sitting in the audience at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
Rather than use his speech to deliver the rock ‘n’ roll classic moment he envisaged it in his head, Love instead made himself appear jealous of Jagger, and he managed to drench the whole arena in a sea of crippling awkward tension
Back in the ’60s, Jagger opened up about his disdain for The Beach Boys when he told Melody Maker: “I hate The Beach Boys but I like Brian Wilson. He’s very nice and sort of different to them. If you saw The Beach Boys perform live you wouldn’t believe it. The drummer can’t seem to keep time to save his life.”
While his comments were disparaging, surely it can’t have stayed fresh in the memory of Mick Love for 20 years? Nevertheless, after Brian Wilson passed the microphone to him in 1988 at the ceremony, Love descended into a bizarre tirade slamming Mick Jagger and labelling the Stones singer as “chickenshit”.
“The Beach Boys did about 180 performances last year,” he told the dumbstruck audience. “I’d like to see the Mop Tops match that! I’d like to see Mick Jagger get out on this stage and do ‘I Get Around’ versus ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ any day now.”
“I’d like to see us in the Coliseum and he at Wembley Stadium because he’s always been chicken shit to get on stage with The Beach Boys,” he continued, despite Mick Jagger watching on.
Seemingly, his reason for calling out The Stones was that they were too frightened to share a bill with The Beach Boys – in a supposed fear of being outplayed – which would have more credibility if they didn’t start their respective journeys on different corners of the world. Additionally, The Stones didn’t need to share a bill with The Beach Boys as they were selling out stadiums with their star-power alone and didn’t need to seek assistance to fill seats.
Love later recounted the incident when he saw Jagger later that evening. He said: “Well, it’s funny, he threw one of my tuxedo shoes off the stage during the jam session and I threw one of his off and we were acting like idiots and juveniles,” Love told Rockcellar Magazine. “So I told him, ‘The reason [l] said some of that stuff on stage is if we ever fight by satellite it’ll be worth a lot of money’ and he laughed and said, ‘That’s good, that’s good.'”
Jagger almost certainly didn’t think it was ‘good’ on the inside. Still, he feigned finding humour in Love’s strange rant and his splendid lack of emotion towards the remarks likely infuriated The Beach Boys singer even further.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last 33 years and somehow never seen Love’s speech before, then take some time out, grab some popcorn, and drop a cushion on the floor for your jaw to hit.