The Greatest Band of All Time: The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?


Today I am going to discuss one of the biggest debates in the history of music, namely who is the greatest band of all time: the Beatles or the Rolling Stones? There are many facts to support either one as being the best of the best. I intend to argue that the Beatles are the greatest band to ever step on the stage.

The Beatles are the top-selling band of all time, with 600 million record sales worldwide—more than lapping the Rolling Stones, who are at only 240 million records. When you consider that the Beatles were only together for ten years, this difference tells you how they rocked the world with their great music. Meanwhile, the Rolling Stones have been together for 56 years (which is much longer than the Beatles) and they have released many more albums over that time, with 30 studio albums released to the Beatles’ mere dozen. Even with both of those advantages, the Beatles crush the Stones in record sales anyway.

Of course, since the Beatles had such a short time together and it was back in the sixties, the Stones’ touring revenue is far higher, standing at a whopping $1.5 billion. (On the other hand, Paul McCartney has made almost $1 billion touring by himself, so . . .)

More importantly, the Beatles changed music as we know it, revolutionizing rock and roll forever. They changed how people recorded music by embracing new production techniques, made music that all age groups could vibe with, and more than anything, inspired people through their songs. The Beatles were one of the first British rock bands; their success inspired plenty of successors, like the similarly-competitive Oasis and Blur—and, in fact, the Rolling Stones, which weren’t formed until 1962. Before the British Invasion that started with the Beatles, the rock and roll genre was centered on American artists.

That difference is even more obvious when you look at the relative accolades each band has received over its career. In terms of #1 hits, the Beatles thoroughly outclass the Rolling Stones, with 20 (seriously, think of a well-known Beatles song and it probably hit #1) to the Stones’ eight—and the Beatles also have more #1 albums than the Stones, even though the Stones have a much longer discography due to their longevity. Of those twelve albums the Beatles released, eleven made it to #1 in the United Kingdom, and nine of those had enough crossover power to do the same on this side of the Atlantic.

Plus, while the Grammies are not always an objective metric, here the Beatles have the edge, too: seven to the Rolling Stones’ three (plus their Lifetime Achievement Award). Arguably, the Beatles achieved more in their ten years as a band than the Rolling Stones have in their nearly sixty.

While the Beatles are legends, none of this is to say that the Rolling Stones are a bad band: they are a great band that has stuck together for a very long time. However, even though the Rolling Stones have made more total money than the Beatles and have managed to stick together longer, the accolades the Beatles received speak for themselves. This is a band that revolutionized music as we know it today, to the point that it’s likely there will never be a band like them ever again. Not only have they won more awards than any band in history, and not only are they the best-selling artist of all time, but there’s a reason that if you look at any list of the best bands or artists of all time, you’ll find two names right at the top: the Beatles, and at some point below them, the Rolling Stones. That’s because even more than their album sales or their accolades, what makes the Beatles the best band of all time is the way they have influenced nearly every artist recording music today, whether they’re their natural successors in the rock and roll genre or artists inspired by the Beatles’ approach to songwriting. We live in a world of music that just wouldn’t exist without them, and that’s why they’re the greatest group to ever grace the stage.

[Ed. Note—If we’re doing music recommendations: oh, seriously? You’re gonna make mistakes, you’re young.]