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.”

Full-page ads: Together by Country Joe and the Fish on Vanguard; Grateful Dead’s Anthem of the Sun on Warner Bros; Dino Valenti by Dino Valenti on CBS; Ravi Shankar’s Chappaqua on Columbia.

More ads: In Search of the Lost Chord by Moody Blues on Deram; Super Session by Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Steve Stills on Columbia; Tuesday, April 19th by the Unspoken Word on Ascot; Bobby Callender’s Rainbow on MGM; Bill Graham’s Fillmore West.

Reviews: In My Own Dreams by the Butterfield Blues Band on Elektra (by Jerrold Greenberg); Aerial Ballet by Nilsson on RCA (by Barret Hansen); Sweetheart of the Rodeo by the Byrds on Columbia (by Barry Gifford); Spirit by Spirit on Ode (by Barret Hansen); The Mason Williams Phonographic Record by Mason Williams on Warner Bros (by Gene Sculatti); Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and the Holding Company on Columbia (by John Hardin); Fats Is Back by Fats Domino on Reprise (by Jann Wenner); The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter by the Incredible String Band on Elektra (by James Pomeroy).

With eight albums reviewed across two full pages with no ads, this was the biggest Reviews section in the history of the magazine so far. Previous issues had featured five reviews at most.

Subscription offer: New subscribers could get a free copy of the Grateful Dead’s Anthem of the Sun (with 50 cents for shipping and handling). $6 for 26 issues; $10 for 52.

Previously: Issue 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16.

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