It is a debate that has raged since the sixties. For over 50 years, generations of music fans have gone back and forth and head to head over one of the most divisive subjects the industry has ever known.
No, I’m not referring to who would win in a fight, Simon or Garfunkel (I’d fancy Simon though. Lacks height but could be scrappier and could probably also get some decent power behind a swing of that guitar), but rather something altogether more passionately argued about.
Beatles or Stones?
Now, of course, there’s really no need to debate who is better in some sort of mind-melting, brain cell battering ‘Messi or Ronaldo’ style discourse. But it is often interesting to hear why people prefer one to the other.
And most recently, an icon with one foot in the rock and roll business and another in the equally charismatic and bombastic world of professional wrestling, has had his say on the matter.
A couple of months ago, I sat down, via Zoom, with Chris Jericho – eight-time World Champion across tenures with WWE and AEW, and frontman with heavy metal outfit Fozzy. And while our 20-minute conversation was heavily centred around Jericho’s in-ring career and AEW’s upcoming, record-breaking All In Pay-Per-View event at Wembley Stadium this Sunday (27th August), we still found time to talk a little rock and roll.
But for Le Champion, a man who once referred to himself as the Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah, it’s not an easy choice and it is one that he has changed his mind over across the past decade.
“It’s hard to say, man” Jericho begins when posed the question.
“I think if you had asked me this 10 years ago I’d have said The Beatles but the more I get into the Stones and the more I see them, they’re the greatest rock and roll band of all time.
“I saw them in Hyde Park last June or July and they still kicked total ass, so I’m gonna have to say the Stones for sure, hands down.”
But the man who will go one-on-one with Essex’s own Will Ospreay at Wembley this weekend didn’t just want to chat Lennon, McCartney, Mick and Keith during our interview. He also referenced another seminal, shapeshifting British musical entity when describing the evolution of his own career and the different character changes he has portrayed across his three decades inside the squared circle.
“When it comes to me it comes to me. I always know when it’s time to change things up and when it’s time I’ll do it right away. It’s the David Bowie concept where you always want to keep things fresh so that people never get bored of you and you always keep them on their toes. They never know what’s coming next.”
When looking across Jericho’s mesmeric, Hall of Fame worthy career and every transformation he has undertaken; from his fresh-faced few months as a Golden Lion in Mexico, to his Thrillseeking days with Lance Storm, onwards to becoming The Man of 1,004 Holds in WCW before evolving into Y2J and twisting and turning through a kaleidoscopic range of character developments and alignments in WWE over a legendary 20-year spell to, finally, the bubbly swilling, Painmaking Le Champion in AEW, it is nigh on impossible to argue against his Bowie-based analogy.
And, even at 52 years of age and with over 30 years of wear and tear in the ring and on the road and stage ravaging his body, Jericho’s future still feels oddly compelling. Which of his procession of characters will be the next to fall to earth?