Tag Archives: 50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone

50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 19

Rolling Stone issue #19 had a cover date of October 12, 1968. 32 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of Mick Jagger by Ethan Russell.

The biggest news in this issue for those of us who care about the history of the magazine is an item that appears on page 6 under the simple headline: Regrets.

Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. regretfully announces the departure of Mr. Ralph J. Gleason from its Board of Directors. Mr. Gleason has also resigned his position as Contributing Editor on the staff of Rolling Stone.

In his letter of resignation, Mr. Gleason stated that he could “no longer accept responsibility for an editorial and reportorial policy with which I am not in sympathy and over which I have no control.” Although he had no hand in editorial decisions or policy making since June, his resignation was received in the beginning of September.

Gleason was one of the founding members of Downbeat Magazine and was also the Editor of Jazz Quarterly, a now defunct music magazine. He continues as a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Joe Hagan’s Sticky Fingers tells us that Gleason “felt ‘seriously exploited’ by Wenner, who had only paid him $35 since Rolling Stone began” (page 119). That said, Gleason would return with a new Perspectives column for issue 22 in November, and would continue to write for the magazine until his death in 1975 at 58.

Features: The Rolling Stone Interview with Mick Jagger by Jonathan Cott and Sue Cox; Van Dyke Parks: Little Demand for Genius by Jerry Hopkins; Booker T & The M.G.s (Part 2) by Jann Wenner; Big Sur Folks’ Festival by Our Correspondent; Sky River Rock Groove by Our Correspondent.

News: John Sebastian Leaves Spoonful, Soloes as Singer and Composer by Sue C. Clark; Graffiti Get Stones in Hot Water; October Sees Steve Miller Change; Buddy Miles Express Moves Fast; Elektric Ranch Is Established; Tiny Tim Sues Bouquet Records; Bad Scene Goes Down on Strip.

Columns: Visuals (“Black Art”) by Thomas Albright; “The Pump House Gang” by Elizabeth Campbell; “Electronic Roll” by Ed Ward. No Random Notes column or anything by Jon Landau.

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50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 18

Rolling Stone issue #18 had a cover date of September 28, 1968. 32 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of Pete Townshend by Baron Wolman.

This is the first boost in the page count since issue #3 went to 24 pages from 20 in the first two issues. And no increase in the cover price. In fact, the price would remain 35 cents (cheap!) until issue issue #54 in 1970 when it would go up to half a buck. (By then the magazine would be a whopping 56 pages long.)

This issue featured ten full-page ads and nine album reviews as well as extensive political coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. It’s definitely starting to feel more like the Rolling Stone we imagine.

Features: A Rock and Roll Guide to Politics (“Everybody’s Chicago Blues”); The Rolling Stone Interview with Pete Townshend (Part 2); The Blues Are the Truth: A Profile of Buddy Guy by Barry Gifford; Jerry Wexler: A Man of Dedication by Sue C. Clark; Smokey Robinson by Michael Lydon.

News: Rock and Roll Shrivels Hearing (summarizing a study published in the New York Times); Record Industry Hits Stride of Billion Dollars; Black Artists Finally Get Television Show; Country Joe Sees Viet Action; Janis Leaves Big Brother & Co; Cheetah Club Blows It Again.

Columns: Visuals (“West Pole”) by Thomas Albright; Country & Rock by Jon Landau (where he covers Buffalo Springfield’s Last Time Around and the Byrd’s Sweetheart of the Rodeo); Random Notes includes a bit about why the new Stones album was delayed and also tidbits about Rhinoceros, the Archies, Janis Joplin, and Frank Zappa.

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50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 17

Rolling Stone issue #17 had a cover date of September 14, 1968. 24 pages. 35 cents. Cover illustration by Rick Griffin.

Features: The Rolling Stone Interview with Pete Townshend by Jann Wenner; Eric Burdon: ‘I Got Changes to Go Through, That’s All’ by Jerry Hopkins; “The Eggman Wears White” by Jonathan Cott (about John and Yoko’s latest art projects).

News: “Apples is Closed; Beatles Give It All Away Free” (on the closing of the Apple Boutique); “Doors Concert Starts Riot in Long Island”; “Raelettes Leave Ray [Charles]”; Newport Pop Festival; Kaleidoscope Club in Los Angeles; International Essener Song Tage festival in Germany; “Airplane and Doors Fly to Europe.”

Columns: Visuals by Thomas Albright (“One Panel Is Worth a Thousand Balloons”); no Perspectives by Ralph J. Gleason and nothing by Jon Landau. In fact we won’t see another Gleason byline until issue 22 in November. Joe Hagan’s Sticky Fingers tells us: “In September 1968, Gleason tendered his resignation as vice president of Straight Arrow, saying he felt ‘seriously exploited’ by Wenner, who had only paid him $35 since Rolling Stone began” (page 119).

Landau, however, will be back in the next issue.

The fact that Thomas Albright’s column was given the cover treatment shows that Wenner still hadn’t quite figured out the commercial value of that placement. I also find it odd that while almost none of Gleason’s and few of Landau’s columns are available on the rollingstone.com site today, almost all of Albright’s early columns are. What’s up with that?

This issue marks the first appearance of “Random Notes” which still exists today. It replaced Wenner’s “John J. Rock” column, which ran from issue 8 through issue 15, as the place for music industry gossip, rumors and PR leaks. This inaugural “Random Notes” has items about Dylan, Zappa, Cream, Buddy Guy, and news of the upcoming Beatles single: “Hey Judge” [sic, ha ha] b/w “Revolution.”

Continue reading 50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 17

50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 16

Rolling Stone issue #16 had a cover date of August 24, 1968. 24 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of the Band by Elliot M. Landy.

Features: “Friends and Neighbors Just Call Us the Band” by Alfred G. Aronowitz; Howlin’ Wolf by Barry Gifford; The Rolling Stone Round Table with Booker T & the M.G.’s by Jann Wenner; The Newport Folk Festival by Jon Landau.

News: Race Dispute Splits Byrds’ Nest: Gram Parsons Refuses Gigs in South Africa; Tim Hardin Contracts Pleurisy; Kaleidoscope Kollapses in Kash Krisis by Jerry Hopkins; Record Sales Over One Billion in 1967; David Ruffin Leaves Temptations; Bluesbreakers Go Through Changes; Yoko Ono’s Endless Faces; Percy Sledge Has Heart Attack.

Columns: Perspectives by Ralph J. Gleason (“Deathwish of the Hippie Ethic”); Visuals by Thomas Albright (“Light Art”); “Special Report: The French Scene” by Alain Dister.

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50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 15

Rolling Stone issue #15 had a cover date of August 10, 1968. 24 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of Mick Jagger by Dean Goodhill.

Features: The Rolling Stones Return With Beggars Banquet by Jann Wenner, featuring tons of great photos by by Dean Goodhill; “Cream Breaks Up”; “Merle Haggard: Home-Fried Humor and Cowboy Soul” by Al Aronowitz [misspelled “Arnowitz”]; “Eric Jacobson in Town with Hybridized Production Trip” by Ben Fong-Torres; “Fiddlin’ in Berkeley” by Charles Perry; “Electronic Roll” by Edmund O. Ward; “The Burning of Los Angeles,” a poem by David Gancher.

News: The Who Does a Full-Length Rock Opera; Fillmore Scene Moves to New Carousel Hall; Nice Not Nice To America; Beatles Declare National Apple Week; KMPX Scabs Pay Their Dues.

Columns: Visuals by Thomas Albright (“Top of the Underground: Reel Humor & Flashes”); “Soul Together” by Jon Landau on a benefit concert at Madison Square Garden for the Martin Luther King Memorial Fund featuring Joe Tex, King Curtis, Sonny and Cher, Sam and Dave, the Rascals, and Aretha Franklin; John J. Rock (aka Jann Wenner) on Jim Morrison’s “rather worn-out and self-conscious stage maneuvers,” Michael Nesmith’s instrumental Wichita Train Whistle (“awful”), and Life magazine’s rock and roll issue (“a disappointment”).

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50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 14

Rolling Stone issue #14 had a cover date of July 20, 1968. 24 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of Frank Zappa by Barry Wolman.

Features: The Rolling Stone Interview with Frank Zappa by Jerry Hopkins; “Dionne Warwick Makes New Plans: Movie and a Gospel Album” by Sue C. Clark; “A Friendly Tribute for Ramblin’ [Jack Elliott] Charles Adnopoz” by Barry Gifford; “Rock Musicals: The Hippies Are from Time Magazine” by Tom Phillips; Richie Havens by Steve Glazier.

News: Apple on Capitol; Stones Studio Fire; Jazz Guitarist Wes Montgomery Dies; Beatles To Do Three LP-Set?; Clapton Acquitted on Dope Charges; Stones Do Film with Goddard; Beatle George Visits Los Angeles.

Columns: Jon Landau on what’s wrong with Rock “Art” (“Most rock and roll musicians are banal, amateurish and insipidly stupid when they try to express their philosophy of life in the context of popular music.”); Perspectives by Ralph J. Gleason (“San Francisco and the Stars”); the John J. Rock column was guest-written by Arthur Hoppe (“Sir Walter Raleigh’s Historic Mistake”).

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50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 13

Rolling Stone issue #13 had a cover date of July 6, 1968. 24 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of Tiny Tim by Baron Wolman.

This is a weird issue. There’s no “Perspectives” column by Ralph Gleason. The only thing written by Jann Wenner is his pseudonymous John J. Rock column. And there are two big features by San Francisco disc jockey Bob McClay, whose byline hadn’t been seen since a piece in Issue #1 about Murray the K and would never appear in another issue after this one. Maybe the regulars were on vacation.

Features: “Industry’s All-Stereo Push Puts the Needle in Consumer Instead of Inbetween the Grooves” by Bob McClay; “Othello in Rhythm & Blues: Jerry Lee Lewis with Willie Shake” by Donald F. Roth; “Listen to Joseph Cotton: He Sounds Like Butterfield” by Kevin Greenwood; Tiny Tim interview by Jerry Hopkins; “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Bob McClay.

News: ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ is New Stones LP; Fleetwood Mac Rolls Into Town; Cream Separation Is Denied; Little Willie John Dies in Prison; King of Soul [James Brown] Visits Africa; Dave Mason Rejoins Traffic; Donovan Splits with Manager.

Columns: “Aretha” by Jon Landau; John J. Rock on the latest goings-on with Mike Bloomfield, Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan, and George Harrison’s sister-in-law. And also this:

The Strawberry Alarm Clock, one of those one-hit Top 40 groups whose only meaning is their meaninglessness, got busted two weeks ago on dope charges in East Peoria, Illinois. Wait–not even East Peoria, in a small town outside East Peoria. Sensing that a dope bust is a real publicity break, their record company (UNI) hires a flamboyant lawyer, Melvin Belli, flies in some reporters, and holds a press conference for television cameras, etc. etc. So what does this mean (aside being a real “new style” hype?) It means that if you get busted for dope, you can be co-opted into the establishment! (The final irony is that this group’s last LP was titled “Sit with the Guru” with a big drawing of the Maharishi on the cover, and they are actively publicizing their dope arrest, a habit the Maharishi condemns.)

Which pretty much sums up the tone of Wenner’s John J. Rock gossip column. It was his vehicle for his snotty editorializing and it’s where he could pontificate his point of view most articulately. But he hides behind a pseudonym. He clearly knew he was a dick. And he didn’t want to spoil any opportunities with advertisers or relationships with artists.

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50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 12

Rolling Stone issue #12 had a cover date of June 22, 1968. 24 pages. 35 cents.

Features: “Dylan’s Basement Tape Should Be Released” by Jann Wenner; “A Special Report: Inside the Los Angeles Scene” by Jerry Hopkins (recently deceased); “Jagger Plans To Tour Again; New Stones Album Ready” by Bob Dawbarn; Ralph J. Gleason on Willie Mae Thornton; Ben Fong-Torres on Gordon Lightfoot; “Beatles Dump the Maharishi” by Our Correspondent.

News: Stones Announce New Single, Jagger Makes Acting Debut; Byrds Do the Country Thing; Fugs Celebrate Decency Week; KMPX Strikers Find a New Home; Buffalo Springfield Goes to Pasture; A Starting Film with Jimi Hendrix.

Columns: Perspectives by Ralph J. Gleason (“A Power To Change the World”); Visuals by Thomas Albright (“A Mind-Blown, Chaplinesque Mouse”); “John J. Rock” has some label news, a bitchy comment about the Rome Festival, and commentary about new songs from the Beatles (“‘Across the Universe,’ a Beatle song recorded at the same time as ‘Lady Madonna,’ was planned for release on an all-star Charity LP, but will probably not be released after all.”) and the Stones (“‘Jumping Jack Flash,’ a return to the riffs of ‘Route 66.'”).

Reviews: Lumpy Gravy by Frank Zappa on Verve (by Jim Miller); The Twain Shall Meet by Eric Burdon and the Animals on MGM (no byline); Pure Cotton by the James Cotton Blues Band on Verve Forecast (by Barry Gifford); Children of the Future by Steve Miller Band on Capitol (by Jann Wenner).

Notable Correspondence: Lenny Kaye (New York City) defends the honor of the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las; Bob Christgau (Secular Music, Esquire Magazine) defends Moby Grape.

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50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 11

Rolling Stone issue #11 had a cover date of May 25, 1968. 24 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo by Baron Wolman.

For some reason they decided to label this as “Vol. II, No. 1 (Whole No. 11).” They kept that up through issue #14 (Vol. II, No. 4) and then abandoned the volume business and stuck with “whole” numbers. It’s funny to see them messing around with those kind of formalities.

This was the “rock fashion” issue and the cover featured chief photographer Baron Wolman’s wife. He later said, “For Rolling Stone Magazine No. 11 I had made some lovely photos of Johnny Cash and B.B. King, both of whom were featured in that issue. I had also recently shot one roll of pictures of my then-wife Juliana; I made a few prints and brought them into show Jann and Janie with whom we were social friends. For some reason I must have left the photos at the office because when the issue appeared a few days later, there was Juliana on the cover!”

There wouldn’t be many nobodies on the cover once Wenner realized the value of the placement. But they were still figuring all that out.

Features: “Monterey Festival Done In; $52,000 Is Missing” by Michael Lydon; “Country Tradition Goes To Heart of Dylan Songs” by Jann Wenner; “A Few Folksy Fashions: Far out outfits from the Haight-Ashbury” by Susan Lydon; “Jerry Ragavoy: One of the Best New R&B Producers” by Sue C. Clark; “Pop Staples at the Fillmore” by Charles Perry; a funky full-page illustration (“With Liberty and Justice for All”) by Patricia Oberhaus; and a poem called “Where Are All the Beatle Fans: Part III (St. Mark’s Place — The East Village — Three o’clock in the afternoon)” by Isabel.

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50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 10

Rolling Stone issue #10 had a cover date of May 11, 1968. 24 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo by Linda Eastman.

This is the issue that proved beyond any doubt that Rolling Stone was having a clear impact on the rock and roll scene it was covering. This is the issue where Jann Wenner proved he wasn’t afraid to bite the hand that feeds him. This is the issue that made Eric Clapton faint.

Clapton was on the cover and it featured the Rolling Stone Interview with Eric Clapton as well as a full-page ad for Disraeli Gears and Fresh Cream. But there was also a live review of a recent Cream show in Boston written by Jon Landau.

Cream has been called a jazz group. They are not. They are a blues band and rock band. Clapton is a master of the blues cliches of all of the post-World War II blues guitarists, particularly B.B. King and Albert King. And he didn’t play a note that wasn’t blues during the course of the concert. […] Yet melodically, the improvisation was indistinguishable from the one that took place on their next number, “N.S.U.,” and rhythmically they never did anything more advanced than a 4/4. By abandoning the chord progression of the song they started out with and improvising solely around the root chord, (which, by the way, is a far cry from having abandoned a chord structure, which Clapton says he is prone to do) they insure the incompatibility of the solo compared with the song. And ultimately what I wound up hearing was three virtuosos romping through their bag, occasionally building it into something, occasionally missing the mark altogether, but always in a one-dimensional style that made no use of dynamics, structure, or any of the other elements of rock besides drum licks and guitar riffs.

Ouch! Years later, Clapton admitted how this review affected him: “All during Cream I was riding high on the ‘Clapton Is God’ myth that had been started up. I was flying high on an ego trip; I was pretty sure I was the best thing happening that was popular. Then we got our first kind of bad review, which, funnily enough, was in Rolling Stone. The magazine ran an interview with us in which we were really praising ourselves, and it was followed by a review that said how boring and repetitious our performance had been. And it was true! The ring of truth just knocked me backward; I was in a restaurant and I fainted. After I woke up, I immediately decided that it was the end of the band.” (RS #450, 1985)

Is it an exaggeration to say that Jon Landau’s review broke up Cream? There may have been other factors, but it’s pretty clear that it had an effect.

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