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52 Years Ago: The Beatles Write a Song for the Rolling Stones

In the Beatles‘ early days, John Lennon and Paul McCartney often gave songs to their friends. That’s exactly what happened when they wrote “I Wanna Be Your Man” for the Rolling Stones at London’s De Lane Lea Studio on Sept. 10, 1963.

The meeting of the two groups was arranged by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who had also been the Beatles publicist. “Oldham had almost literally bumped into Lennon and McCartney as they stepped out of a cab,” Bill Janovitz writes in Rocks Off: 50 Tracks that Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones. “He invited them to the studio where the Stones were rehearsing and, right then and there, the two finished off what had been a McCartney sketch of an idea, handing it the Stones for their single.”

At the time, the Rolling Stones had only released one single, a cover of Chuck Berry‘s “Come On,” which had been released in June. Their repertoire consisted exclusively of R&B covers. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards would later credit being able to watch Lennon and McCartney that day with giving them a greater understanding of how to write a song.

That certainly came in handy later, when Oldham famously locked them in the kitchen until they composed something. The result? “As Tears Go By.”

Meanwhile, Lennon and McCartney had become a prolific songwriting team, frequently giving cast-off tracks to friends like Gerry and the Pacemakers (“Do You Want to Know a Secret”), Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (“Bad to Me”) and Cilla Black (“Step Inside Love”).

In the case of “I Wanna Be Your Man,” a few changes needed to be made. The Rolling Stones put a tougher R&B beat behind the song and Brian Jones contributed its distinctive slide guitar part. They recorded the song a month later, and it was released on Nov. 1. “I Wanna Be Your Man” reached No. 12 on the U.K. charts. The Beatles’ version came out three weeks later on With the Beatles, with Ringo Starr taking the lead vocal.

The Beatles and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Albums of the ’60s

Today in Rock History

Next: Top 10 Unique Beatles Cover Versions

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