Has rock ‘n’ roll seen a better, more prosperous era than the 1960s? That decade alone brought countless classic albums from legends such as Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground, The Beach Boys, The Who, and David Bowie. Perhaps, the only masterpiece missing from that period was a collaborative album featuring music’s greats, a tour de force, if you will, of rock’s best and brightest.
Turns out, such an epic project almost came to fruition: According to a new book by renowned producer and engineer Glyn Johns (Abbey Road, Beggars Banquet, Quadrophenia), Bob Dylan wanted to make an album with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
As Johns recounts in the forthcoming memoir Sound Man (via Rolling Stone), during a brief, late ’60s encounter with the “Mr. Tambourine Man” troubadour himself, Dylan expressed interest in the Fab Four and the Stones’ music. “[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 noted. “In turn, I babbled about how much we had all been influenced by his work.”
And that’s when Dylan dropped a whopping bombshell of a revelation. “He said he had this idea to make a record with the Beatles and the Stones,” wrote Johns. “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?”
Stunned and excited by the news, Johns immediately reached out to both acts to gauge their interest. “Keith [Richards] and George [Harrison] thought it was fantastic,” he noted in Sound Man. “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.”
Unfortunately, not everyone was on board with the project. “John [Lennon] didn’t say a flat no, but he wasn’t that interested. Paul [McCartney] and Mick [Jagger] both said absolutely not.”
The epic collaboration that could have been was dead in the water before it had technically even begun, much to the disappointment of the super-producer. “I had it all figured out,” he wrote. “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. Paul and Mick were probably, right, however I would have given anything to have given it a go.”
As Rolling Stone notes, the conversation between Johns and Dylan likely took place around 1969. Although the three music legends never joinced forces, it was still a mighty year for rock with the release of the Stones’ Let It Bleed, The Beatles’ one-two punch of Yellow Submarine and Abbey Road, and Dylan’s Nashville Skyline.