I’ve just bought a book that I’d recommend to anyone who likes nice looking music books. It’s a book worth buying not just for the music content but in a superficial kind of way it offers a (very) brief cultural overview, as seen through who RS magazine saw fit to put on their cover at any one time. It’s currently £16 in HMV on Oxford Street and is a nicely illustrated run down of the first 1000 covers of this rock bible (so it runs up to 2006, and started in 1967). Amazing who they’ve had on the cover, and also who they haven’t.
Without actually totting them all up, the Rolling Stones seem to have had far and away the most covers, which made me think about what the relationship was between the magazine’s title and that band’s name when the mag was christened. It’s not a unique phrase I know – Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Like A Rolling Stone etc, but I’ve never been able to find out, so answers on a postcard if anyone knows.
After the Stones, the usual suspects of The Beatles (and solos), Bob Dylan, Madonna, Bono and Bruce Springsteen have had loads, and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead also seems to have had a lot of cover appearances, somewhat surprisingly for these English eyes given that the Dead never seemed to make any significant waves in the UK, long term. Still, couldn't resist going to see their house off Haight/Ashbury in San Francisco.
It was also a real eye-opener to see so many comedians on the cover, especially in the 80s. Steve Martin, David Letterman, Eddie Murphy and Seinfeld have all had their fair share, and the passing of John Belushi seemed to be a big deal at the time.
Also, did you know that Hunter S. Thompson was a contributing editor of RS mag until he died in 2005, and his Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas first appeared in the magazine?
No Queen cover ever though, which surprised, and I have to say saddened me, being brought up listening to them courtesy of my Dad, so I’ve a massive fondness for their original body of work. I’ve stolen all his original LPs, both Queen and anything else I fancied, and my favourite Queen album is the Jazz LP with a triple gatefold poster of when they hired Wembley Stadium for the album launch and held a naked bicycle race for fat bottomed girls. The record industry really was a different beast back then.
So if you fancy 1000 Rolling Stone Covers, grab it while it’s cheap. And while you’re in HMV you can pick up the first Hip Hop Immortals photo book for a fiver right now. Both books will look much better on your coffee table than that fucking Banksy book that even your banker neighbours have got because it makes them look ‘in touch’. Twats.