The Beatles and The Rolling Stones famously shared a fractious relationship if you believed everything that was being printed by the tabloids at the height of their fame. In truth, however, a lot of that ‘rivalry’ wasn’t real and, on one occasion, Beatles duo John Lennon and Paul McCartney even shared their vocals to a track by their so-called competitors in 1967.
The collaboration came about a few months after Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones were arrested on drug charges. They then penned ‘We Love You’, a number which was written as a thank you note to the people who stuck by them as they saw their reputation tarnished. On top of that, they were forever thankful to those who didn’t try to villainize the trio through these ardent times.
The legendary poet Allen Ginsberg was in London at the time of The Stones going into the studio to record the track as he came to the English capital for a pro-marijuana rally at Hyde Park. Ginsberg enjoyed a strong friendship with The Beatles and, during his stay, he met Mick Jagger at Paul McCartney’s house.
Jagger then invited Ginsberg, Lennon and McCartney to the session that evening for the recording of ‘We Love You’ and, although Ginsberg did not take part in the recording session, it was a moment that he would remember fondly. “They looked like little angels,” he later wrote of the groups, “like Botticelli Graces singing together for the first time.”
1967 was the apex of the two legendary groups collaborating with one another with Jagger also lending a hand on backing vocals on the mercurial ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man’. Despite, the two groups clearly being friendly, John Lennon was never convinced on a professional level.
When asked what he thought of The Rolling Stones by Jann Wenner from Rolling Stone in 1970, Lennon infamously replied: “I think it is a lot of hype. I like ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ but I think Mick’s a joke, with all that fag dancing, I always did. I enjoy it, I’ll probably go and see his films and all, like everybody else, but really, I think it’s a joke.”
Taking things a step further, Lennon made the not-so-subtle hint that Jagger and the Stones regularly copied the Beatles: “I would like to just list what we did and what the Stones did two months after on every fuckin’ album,” he said. “Every fuckin’ thing we did, Mick does exactly the same – he imitates us.
“And I would like one of you fuckin’ underground people to point it out, you know Satanic Majesties is Pepper, ‘We Love You’, it’s the most fuckin’ bullshit, that’s ‘All You Need Is Love’,” Lennon brutally added.
Of all the songs for Lennon to have singled out as epitomising his disdain for the music of The Rolling Stones, it is somewhat peculiar that he mentioned the one song that he helped provide vocals for.
‘We Love You’ was designed to be a playful spoof of ‘All You Need Is Love’ hence why The Stones invited The Beatles down to the studio to give the track their seal of approval but obviously Lennon didn’t see the funny side to the number.