By the late ’70s, John had taken a break from recording to raise his son Sean (born October ’75). But the Rolling Stones continued to soldier on as a band, and in summer ’78 released Some Girls. “Miss You,” that LP’s lead single, topped the Billboard charts in August. When Lennon heard it, he thought it sounded familiar.
“I think Mick Jagger took ‘Bless You’ and turned it into ‘Miss You,’” John told David Sheff in 1980. “The engineer kept wanting me to speed that up. He said, ‘This is a hit song if you’d just do it fast.’ He was right. ’Cause as ‘Miss You’ it turned into a hit. I like Mick’s record better.”
John made it clear he didn’t hold anything against Jagger and the Stones for what he believed was a swipe. “I have no ill feelings about it. I think it’s a great Stones track, and I really love it,” he told Sheff. “But I do hear that lick in it. Could be subconscious or conscious. It’s irrelevant. Music is everybody’s possession. It’s only publishers who think people own it.”
John walked the walk on that front after he heard Rod Stewart’s ‘The Killing of Georgie,” which sounded an awful lot like “Don’t Let Me Down.” In that case, Stewart’s track came a lot closer to John’s work than “Miss You” did to “Bless You.” But no legal action took place in either case.
Though the Stones continued scoring top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the ’80s, “Miss You” remains the last No. 1 hit the group had in America. The song seemed to strike just the right chord at the moment disco was nearing its peak in popularity.
Ironically, Stones bassist Bill Wyman thought people in turn borrowed from his band’s work. “I did the [bass] riff for ‘Miss You,’ which made the song,” Wyman said in a 2002 interview with Ian Fortnam (via Rock’s Backpages). “Every band in the world copied it for the next year — Rod Stewart, all of them.”
As for Stewart, whose name popped up twice in this discussion of songs that resemble other songs. Rod used to think Led Zeppelin copied the Jeff Beck Group’s concept. But Zeppelin’s members laughed it off.