During the 1960s, three of the biggest musicians in the world were The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. While the three were music rivals, they all greatly respected each other. The Beatles and the Stones both considered Dylan to be a significant influence. Dylan also enjoyed the two British bands and, at one point, suggested uniting the bands to make a mega album. However, it wasn’t meant to be.
Bob Dylan almost made an album with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones
Dylan was an influential figure among the members of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. John Lennon credited the “Like a Rolling Stone” singer as a key figure behind his songwriting style on songs such as “In My Life”, “I’m a Loser”, and “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”. While Dylan kept his feelings close to his chest, he was privately a massive admirer of the two bands.
Studio engineer Glyn Johns worked with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and said Dylan once praised the two bands. In John’s book Sound Man, he recalled when the American singer told him about his plans to make a record with the two bands.
“[Dylan] asked me about the Beatles album I had just finished and was very complimentary about my work with the Stones over the years,” Johns wrote. “In turn, I babbled about how much we had all been influenced by his work. He said he had this idea to make a record with the Beatles and the Stones. And he asked me if I would find out whether the others would be interested. I was completely bowled over. Can you imagine the three greatest influences on popular music in the previous decade making an album together?”
This was quite the change of pace for Dylan, who made a career working alone. However, even he knew how successful a team-up with these artists would be, and it could have happened if everyone had been on board.
Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger had no interest in making the album
Supposedly, there were talks about making this album a reality. A few of The Beatles’ and The Rolling Stones’ members were thrilled to make an album with Bob Dylan. However, the band’s leaders, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger, had no interest in the idea, killing it before it got off the ground.
“Keith [Richards] and George [Harrison] thought it was fantastic,” John shared, “But they would since they were both huge Dylan fans. Ringo [Starr], Charlie [Watts] and Bill [Wyman] were amicable to the idea as long as everyone else was interested. John [Lennon] didn’t say a flat no, but he wasn’t that interested. Paul [McCartney] and Mick [Jagger] both said absolutely not.”
Johns acknowledged that McCartney and Jagger were probably correct to reject it, but Johns was eager to make it and even had some ideas on how it would have worked.
“We would pool the best material from Mick and Keith, Paul and John, Bob and George, and then select the best rhythm section from the two bands to suit whichever songs we were cutting,” Johns added. “Paul and Mick were probably, right. However, I would have given anything to have given it a go.”
It’s unclear why Jagger and McCartney rejected this idea so quickly, but maybe they knew it could not have worked. A few members worked together individually, but the bands never got together fully to make anything. It’s a shame they couldn’t make this work, but it could have been a gigantic mess of creative differences.