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Rolling Stone is a United Statesmarker-based magazine devoted to music, politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Franciscomarker in 1967 by Jann Wenner (who is still editor and publisher) and music critic Ralph J. Gleason.

The magazine was named after the 1948 Muddy Waters song of the same name. The magazine was known for its political coverage beginning in the 1970s, with the enigmatic and controversial gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Rolling Stone Magazine changed its format in the 1990s to appeal to younger readers, often focusing on young television or film actors and pop music. This led to criticism that the magazine was emphasizing style over substance. In recent years, the magazine has resumed its traditional mix of content, including in-depth political stories, and has seen its circulation increase.


To get the magazine off the ground, Wenner borrowed $7,500 from his family members and from the family of his soon-to-be wife, Jane Schindelheim. Rolling Stone Magazine was initially identified with and reported on the hippie counterculture of the era. However, the magazine distanced itself from the underground newspapers of the time, such as Berkeley Barb, embracing more traditional journalistic standards and avoiding the radical politics of the underground press. In the very first edition of the magazine, Wenner wrote that Rolling Stone "is not just about the music, but about the things and attitudes that music embraces." This has become the de facto motto of the magazine.

In the 1970s, Rolling Stone began to make a mark for its political coverage, with the likes of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson writing for the magazine's political section. Thompson would first publish his most famous work Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas within the pages of Rolling Stone, where he remained a contributing editor until his death in 2005. In the 1970s, the magazine also helped launch the careers of many prominent authors, such as Cameron Crowe, Joe Klein, Joe Eszterhas, Patti Smith and P. J. O'Rourke. It was at this point that the magazine ran some of its most famous stories, including that of the Patty Hearst abduction odyssey. One interviewer, speaking for large numbers of his peers, in saying that upon arriving at his college campus as a beginning student, he bought his first copy of the magazine, which he described as a "rite of passage".


In the 1990s, facing competition from men's magazines such as FHM, Rolling Stone reinvented itself, hiring former FHM editor Ed Needham. The magazine started targeting younger readers and offering more sex-oriented content, which often focused on sexy young television or film actors as well as pop music. Some longtime readers denounced the publication, claiming it had declined from astute musical and countercultural observer to a sleek, superficial tabloid, emphasizing style over substance. The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time appeared in 2003, followed by 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock & Roll and The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004. It also published The Rolling Stone Immortals, a list of The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

On May 7 2006, Rolling Stone published its 1,000th issue. The cover, which was influenced by the cover art of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, featured some of the most influential celebrities whom RS had covered.

Rolling Stone has evolved over the years, but certain features regarded as the hallmarks of the magazine have remained intact. Features such as "National Affairs," which has been around since the likes of Hunter S. Thompson and Joe Klein, and "Rock and Roll" are still published in the magazine today. In a bid to react to the advent of the Internet, these two features have been made available in the forms of blogs. Rolling Stone also publishes "Random Notes," a section which mixes photos with tabloid like headlines. Another regular feature printed next to "Random Notes" is the "Smoking Section" which is written by Austin Scaggs.

Today, four decades since its founding by Jann Wenner, the Rolling Stone record reviews section is regarded by many sources as still one of the most influential around.

Beginning with issue No. 1,064, Oct. 30, 2008, Rolling Stone Magazine abandoned its large 10" x 12" format for a "classic magazine" shape that features glossy paper and "perfect binding". A self-adhesive mailing address label replaces the large white box previously on a bottom corner of the cover. Rolling Stone Magazine is printed on 100 percent carbon-neutral paper.

A four DVD-ROM box set, Rolling Stone Cover to Cover: The First 40 Years, which contains all published issues from November 1967 to spring 2007, is available.


One major criticism of Rolling Stone Magazine involves its apparent generational bias toward the 1960s and 1970s. One critic referred to the Rolling Stone list of the "99 Greatest Songs" as an example of "unrepentant rockist fogeyism." In further response to this issue, rock critic Jim DeRogatis, a former Rolling Stone editor, published a thorough critique of the magazine's lists in a book called Kill Your Idols: A New Generation of Rock Writers Reconsiders the Classics (ISBN 1-56980-276-9), which featured differing opinions from many younger critics. Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg criticised the magazine saying that "Rolling Stone has essentially become the house organ of the Democratic National Committee." In fact, Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner has made all of his political donations to Democrats.

Hunter S Thompson, in an article that can be found in his book Generation Of Swine, criticized the magazine for turning on marijuana even though the magazine embraced it in the 60s and 70s when Thompson was a frequent contributor.

Rolling Stone Magazine has been criticized for reconsidering many classic albums that it had previously dismissed. Examples of artists for whom this is the case include, among others, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, The Beach Boys, Nirvana, Radiohead and Outkast. For example, Led Zeppelin was largely written off by Rolling Stone Magazine critics during the band's most active years in the 1970s. However by 2006, a cover story on Led Zeppelin honored them as "the Heaviest Band of All Time." A critic for Slate magazine described a conference at which the 1984 Rolling Stone Record Guide was scrutinized. As he described it, "The guide virtually ignored hip-hop and ruthlessly panned heavy metal, the two genres that within a few years would dominate the pop charts. In an auditorium packed with music journalists, you could detect more than a few anxious titters: How many of us will want our record reviews read back to us 20 years hence?" Another example of this bias was that the album Nevermind, by Grunge band Nirvana, was given a three stars in its original review, despite being placed at #17 in its "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list in 2003. Also, when The Beatles 'Let It Be' was released in 1970, the magazine originally gave the album a poor review, yet in 2003 Rolling stone ranked it number 86 in the magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The hire of former FHM editor Ed Needham further enraged critics who alleged that Rolling Stone had lost its credibility.

Another problem was the magazine's quasi-pravadist identification with the hard line rock purist. Beginning in the mid-1970s, there was a faction within rock music which was hostile towards any rock-based style that was not "straight-ahead rock & roll". The emergence of punk rock helped facilitate this phenomenon since one of punk supporters' claims was that it was "the undistilled essence of rock & roll". This provided the rock purists with an ally of growing influence at the time. And so "Rolling Stone" often articulated this coalition group's hostility towards any "fusion" form such as jazz-rock, progressive rock (which they termed "art rock") plus country rock, and frequently gave voice to their claim that these forms were not "true rock & roll". This period was also the time of artist Bruce Springsteen's greatest success and the purists seized upon him as the best example of the true meaning of rock, with "Rolling Stone" serving as the journalistic voice supporting that claim.

The 2003 Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of all Time article's inclusion of only two female musicians resulted in Venus Zine answering with their own list titled "The Greatest Female Guitarists of All Time.

Another much heard criticism is a bias towards black artists .


Rolling Stone has maintained a website for many years, with selected current articles, reviews, blogs, MP3s, and other features such as searchable and free encyclopedic articles about artists, with images and sometimes sound clips of their work. There are also selected archival political and cultural articles and entries. The site also at one time had an extensive message board forum. By the late 1990s, the message board forum at the site had developed into a thriving community with a large number of regular members and contributors worldwide. The site was also plagued with numerous Internet trolls and malicious code-hackers who vandalized the forum substantially. Rolling Stone abruptly and without notice deleted the forum in May 2004. Rolling Stone began a new, much more limited message board community at their site in late 2005, only to remove it again in 2006. Rolling Stone now permits users to make follow-up comments to posted articles in a blog format. It also maintains a page at MySpace. In March 2008, Rolling Stone started a new message board section once again.

Famous staff


Some artists have graced the cover many times, some of these pictures going on to become iconic. The Beatles, for example, have appeared on the cover over thirty times, either individually or as a band. The first ten issues featured the following:

In July 1993, Laura Dern appeared topless on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine standing sideways and covering her breasts, with a lei around her neck. The photograph, by Kurt Markus, was the first of multiple topless and skin-revealing cover images.

In September 1993, Janet Jackson also appeared topless on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with the hands of her then-husband René Elizondo, Jr. covering her breasts. The photograph is the original full-length version of the cropped image used on the cover of the janet. album, shot by Patrick Demarchelier. Sonia Murray of The Vancouver Sun later reported, "Jackson, 27, remains clearly established as both role model and sex symbol; the Rolling Stone photo of Jackson ... became one of the most recognizable, and most lampooned, magazine covers of the year."

At the age of 17, Britney Spears posed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in April 1999, shot by photographer David LaChapelle. Geoff Boucher of The Los Angeles Times reported, "there was no mistaking the titillation factor in the recent Spears cover story and accompanying photos in the April 15 issue of Rolling Stone, which sent eyebrows arching throughout the music industry, where several executives half-jokingly called it "child pornography". Gillian G. Gaar, author of She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll (2002) reported, "The American Family Association charged that the pictures, which showed Spears in push-up bras and a minuscule pair of shorts with 'Baby' in rhinestones on the bottom, presented a 'disturbing mix of childhood innocence and adult sexuality' and asked that all 'God-loving Americans' boycott stores carrying her albums".

Reference works

  • Rolling Stone Album Guide. Four editions with varying titles, c. 1979, 1983, 1992, 2004.
  • The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. Random House, 1980. ISBN 0-394-73938-8
  • Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. 1985.
  • Rolling Stone Cover-to-Cover: The First 40 Years. Bondi Digital Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-0979526107

International editions

See also


  1. Rolling Stone: Our 1000th Issue
  2. "National Affairs" Daily blog
  3. "Rock and Roll" Daily blog
  4. May 9, 2006. Does hating rock make you a music critic? Jody Rosen. Slate. Article charging "RS" with "fogeyism."
  5. July 4, 2004. Idle worship, or revisiting the classics. Jim DeRogatis. Chicago Sun-Times. Article discussing intention of book
  6. Very Different Visions by Jonah Goldberg
  8. Documentation of attempt to change reviews
  9. Does hating rock make you a music critic? - By Jody Rosen - Slate Magazine
  11. The death of Rolling Stone -
  13. Castaways - Troll Tribunal
  14. Wenner, Jann (2006). "Our 1000th Issue – Jann Wenner looks back on 39 years of Rolling Stone" (accessed September 21, 2006)

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