Founded by Jann Wenner and Ralph J. Gleason, the magazine remains an untouchable bible of music, politics and pop culture in general
Rolling Stone magazine launches it’s first number in 1967
The Rolling Stone Magazine remains the mother of all Pop Culture magazines. Since it was released in 1967 it never went through any hiatus and keeps it’s popularity and relevance to this day. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine’s publisher, and the music critic Ralph J. Gleason and was first known for its musical coverage and for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. The first issue, that carried a cover date of November 9, 1967, was in newspaper format with a lead article on the Monterey Pop Festival, and on the cover, The Beatle John Lennon dressed in army fatigues while acting in his recent film, “How I Won the War”. This famous first issue also offered a free roach clip to hold a marijuana joint, kick starting the decades ahead of controversial covers and articles. Wenner explained that the title of the magazine referred to the 1950 blues song “Rollin’ Stone”, recorded by Muddy Waters, the rock and roll band the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan’s hit single “Like a Rolling Stone”. Rolling Stone has featured some of the most iconic magazine covers ever, and their first 10 issues covers were graced by: John Lennon, Tina Turner, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Donovan & Otis Redding, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Monterey Pop Festival, John Lennon and Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton. This was a trend that would continue during subsequente decades. The 1970’s saw the magazine reaching it’s pinnacle where their record reviews were perhaps the most significant and relevant ones. During the 1980’s and 1990’s the magazine shifted focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music, but in recent years it has resumed its traditional mix of content. Some of the magazine’s most famous covers are the “epitaph” ones, issued after the deaths of Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and David Bowie among many others, and these are authentic valuable collector items today. But controversy was always around and more recently in the August 2013 Rolling Stone cover, featuring then-accused (later convicted) Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, drew widespread criticism that the magazine was “glamorizing terrorism” and that the cover was a “slap in the face to the great city of Boston”. Despite that, Rolling Stone remains an untouchable bible of music, politics and pop culture in general, that now, for decades, has expanded to an international market producing international editions written in languages other than English.
Watch founder Jann Wenner looking back at the 50 years of Rolling Stone magazine in 2017