Mick Jagger inducts The Beatles, 3rd Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, NYC, Jan. 20 1988
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Mick Jagger’s induction speech (from American Rhetoric):
When I got here tonight, I saw George [Harrison] and he said, “You aren’t going to say anything bad about me are you?”
I couldn’t think of anything, really — on the spur of the moment — bad to say about — because in England during those very early days, just while The Beatles were recording their first songs, it was a real wasteland.
England had nothing really to offer as far as pop music was concerned.
The big hits here that came from England were things like Acker Bilk, “Stranger on the Shore” — this is what they thought of in England.
“A Midnight in Moscow” by Kenny Ball — now we all remember that one.
So, at that point The [Rolling] Stones were playing in these little clubs in London, doing Chuck Berry songs, and blues and things. And we loved doing that. And we — pretty scruffy lot. And we thought that we were totally unique animals. I mean there was no one like us.
And then we heard there was a group from Liverpool. Now — Now everyone talks about, you know, Syosset and Levittown, but I can tell you Liverpool, this is really —
Anyway, this group…they had long hair, scruffy clothes, but they had a record contract, and they had a record in the charts with a bluesy harmonica on it called “Love me do.”
When I heard the combination of all these things, I was almost sick.
So, a little later on, you know, we were playing a little club in Richmond [London], and I was doing this song, and suddenly I saw — there they were, right in front of me — The “Fab Four”: John, Paul, George, and Ringo, the four-headed monster. They never went anywhere alone at his point.
And they had on these beautiful long, black leather trench coats. I could really die for one of those, and I — I thought even if I have to learn to write songs, I’m going to — I’m going to get this.
Later on, they gave us our first big hit in England, which was a song they wrote called “I Wanna Be Your Man.”
And we were very grateful for that ’cause that really broke us in England. And — But the example of the way they wrote, and the original way that they — they crafted their songs wasn’t lost on us. And later on their success in America broke down a lot of doors that helped everyone else from England that followed. And I thank them very much for all those things.
The one thing I never appreciated during those early years was, every time I’d come to New York they would say to me, “Hey, are you a Beatle or are you a goil?” But, you know, I learned to live with that.
Well, we went through some pretty strange times. We had a sort of — a lot of rivalry in those early years, and a little bit of friction; but we always ended up friends. And I like to think we still are, ’cause they were some of the greatest times of our lives, and I’m — I’m really proud to be the one that leads them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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