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Saturday, 25 July 2009

Rolling Stone covers - the RIPs

I've been up for far too long on a Saturday morning (is this the price I pay for not drinking on a Friday night?). But at least I had something to do - someone I know is doing some research into a big 70s band (not sure he'd want me to say who), and I thought I'd check through my library of stuff to see if I had anything he might have missed.

As soon as I picked up the fantastic Rolling Stone: 1000 Covers book I knew my productivity would slow for some time, because whenever I open it I get lost in there for at least an hour or so. (BTW, that link just then to Amazon shows the book currently at £38 - I bought it for a lot less than that so don't get it from there!)

I've written about it before, (and looking at that post, clearly before I'd worked out how to add images into posts), but it's worth emphasising how interesting a read it is - especially from the point of view of noticing who one of the most influential pop-culture magazines in the world saw fit to put on their cover at any one time. I find the late-80s/early-90s period the coolest, because that's when I'd started to take music seriously for the first time as I was in my early teens, and it's pretty surprising that some of the bands that I loved back then (who have all but disappeared since then) made it on to the cover of Rolling Stone. Fine Young Cannibals, Living Colour, Soul Asylum (twice!), Blind Melon, Hootie & The Blowfish - all bands I knew of, but never would have had them pegged as RS cover stars. In some respects, knowing that will make me think about them differently next time they pop up on the stereo.

But the covers that are the most visually striking are the RS RIP covers (as I call them). Since the magazine launched in 1967 there have been more than a few notable deaths, ones that have clearly stopped the world of Rolling Stone in its tracks. Maybe it's the fact that I worked in music PR for a long time that leads me to think about the bands who were meant to be on the cover when somebody important shuffled off their mortal coil and bumped them off their cover slot. Careers can turn on things like that!

So, they've done impressive covers for the likes of Ray Charles, George Harrison and Jerry Garcia, but while those guys' deaths, are sad and surprising (in that most deaths are always a shock, no matter how inevitable they are), it's the ones that really come out the blue - they're the ones where you can practically see the tremors on the cover. Here's a few to show you what I mean.

RIP indeed.

P.S. Some other random RS cover observations:
1. Queen have never been on the cover. WTF?!?
2. Lots of comedians have been on the cover - Seinfeld has had some spectacular covers.
3. Watch out for a Rolling Stone cover Doppelganger special coming up (probably tomorrow).
4. This is quite a timely post as I'm expecting my belated copy of the Michael Jackson RS RIP cover to pop through the post any day now.
5. Their sexiest cover ever is a toss up (excuse the vulgar pun) between these two:

6. And on this most recent reading of 1000 Covers, this is my favourite cover ever of theirs (though that'll change next time I read it):

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