The University of Alberta Library subscribes to numerous databases that are core for certain disciplines, but also deserving of a wider attention. The Rolling Stone archive is one of those gems …
When launched in 1967, the Rolling Stone magazine sought to reflect the artistic tastes and political outlook of a generation of young adults. At that time there were protests erupting against the Vietnam War, Montréal hosted Expo ‘67, Elvis Presley married Priscilla, and O.J. Simpson was a running back for the University of Southern California. Sold on newsstands in tabloid newspaper format – black ink with a single colour highlight – it was a far cry from the flashy, full colour magazine we know today.
Rolling Stone archive is one of the many databases provided through ProQuest.
I found it easy to search by clicking on “browse issues” and then simply selecting the year and month. We have access to all issues from 1967 to early 2021. I was thrilled to discover that we can even access the latest issues using another of our databases – PressReader – which has a terrific app for those who like to read the news of the day over their morning cuppa.
Cover of the Rolling Stone –
As the magazine increasingly came to define trends in rock and pop music, appearances on its cover were coveted by musicians, actors, writers and even politicians. Artists are now accustomed to moulding their own narrative, however cover stories and long-form writing in magazines such as Rolling Stone remain a space that rising stars want to occupy.
Do you remember the song by Dr.Hook & the Medicine Show, “Cover of the Rolling Stone”? The song satirizes success in the music business; the song’s narrator laments that his band, despite “rock star” success has been unable to “get their pictures on the cover of the Rolling Stone”:
…But the thrill we’ve never known / Is the thrill that’ll getcha when you get your picture / On the cover of the Rollin’ StoneShel Silverstein lyrics of Cover of the Rolling Stone
So go ahead… put on the headphones and take a dive into this hidden gem of a database! To get you started, these are a sampler of covers from the past five decades of Rolling Stone:
Rolling Stone trivia to impress your friends and groupies:
- The January 22, 1981, cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono is considered as the greatest ever (photo by Annie Leibovitz)
- George Harrison’s 1975 song “This Guitar (Can’t Keep from Crying)“, references the magazine: “Learned to get up when I fall / Can even climb Rolling Stone walls”. The song was written in response to some highly unfavourable reviews from Rolling Stone for Harrison’s 1974 Dark Horse album.
- The most times on the cover? The Beatles, as individuals or as the band, have appeared over 30 times. Madonna has appeared on more covers than any other woman.
- Where did the magazine name come from? Editor Jann Wenner said that the title came from the expression “A rolling stone gathers no moss,” but then he also made reference to the song by Muddy Waters “Rollin’ Stone”, as well as the iconic band The Rolling Stones and let’s not forget the all time Dylan classic “Like a Rolling Stone”. So really, how could the magazine be called anything else? Check out this short video clip – Behind the First Issue | Rolling Stone: Stories from the Edge to hear it told by Wenner himself!