50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 22

Rolling Stone issue #22 had a cover date of November 23, 1968. 32 pages, plus an eight-page insert section. 35 cents. Cover photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono by John Lennon.

On the magazine’s one-year anniversary, this is the issue that pushed Rolling Stone into the mainstream public consciousness. It featured John and Yoko’s bare butts on the cover and on the inside, in a special insert, it featured their full frontal nudity in a two-page pull-out poster. The photo would be featured on the album cover of Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins, released on November 11, 1968.

This issue was printed on October 30th for newsstand sales until November 23rd. It’s easy to forget how hectic this era was, but remember that the Beatles’ White Album wouldn’t be released until November 25 in the United States. When this issue hit the newsstands John was still legally married to Cynthia; their divorce would be finalized on November 8.

According to Joe Hagan’s Sticky Fingers, “Wenner led Lennon to believe that [publishing these photos] would save his newspaper from financial ruin, and Lennon liked being the savior. […] The impact on Rolling Stone‘s fortunes was immediate: The ‘Two Virgins’ cover made national news and doubled Winner’s sales.”

In an editorial in the next issue Wenner would declare, “The point is this: Print a famous foreskin and the world will beat a path to your door.”

So the issue was a success and Wenner loved the ensuing controversy.

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Features: “The Rolling Stone Interview with John Lennon” by Jonathan Cott; “The Goose That Laid The Golden Rock” (no byline); “Cream” by John Burks; “Big Brother and the Holding Company” by Tony Glover.

News: John and Yoko Busted and Naked; Awards for Excellence in Advertising; Family Dog Dance Permit Revoked; Ringo A Star; Cass Blows Las Vegas Gig, Now in the Hospital; Rolling Stone A Year Old; The New Beatles: ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’; Tony Barrow Leaves; The Sound of Money, or what’s in a Label; Motown wins Ruffin contract suit.

Columns: Ralph J. Gleason’s Perspectives (“The Rediscovery of the Blues”); Thomas Albright’s Visuals (“The Kustom Kar Show”); John Grissim, Jr.’s Books (Bound for Glory by Woodie Guthry); “Under Ground TV” by Tom Phillips; Random Notes on Mick Jagger, Tiny Tim, Paul McCartney, Lou Adler, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Miles, the Fugs, and Terry Reid.

Full-page ads: Blue Thumb Records; Joe Cocker’s “With A Little Help From My Friends” on A&M; The New Blues on Vanguard; Music in a Doll’s House by Family on Reprise; Dream A Little Dream by Cass Elliot on Dunhill; Immediate Records; Amphetamine Gazelle by Mad River on Capitol; Recital by Lee Michaels on A&M; The Pentangle on Reprise; KSAN 95 San Francisco; The Heavy Sounds are on Atlantic-Atco Records.

More ads: The Mamas & the Papas on Dunhill; Two Jews Blues on Buddah; Lily and Maria on Columbia; Buckley’s Best by Lord Buckley on World Pacific; BMI; Fillmore West.

Reviews: The Second by Steppenwolf on Dunhill (by David Butcher); Wham of That Memphis Man by Lonnie Mack on Fraternity (by Alec Dubro); Look Inside the Asylum Choir by Asylum Choir on Smash (by David Gancher); Live Wire/Blues Power by Albert King on Stax (by Jerrold Greenberg); Sailor by the Steve Miller Band on Capitol (by Mike Dorn); Honkey Blues by Sir Douglas Quintet Plus Two on Smash (by Boz Scaggs); In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by the Iron Butterfly on Atco (by James Pomeroy).

Subscription offer: New subscribers could get a free copy of the Steve Miller Band’s Sailor or Procol Harum’s Shine On Brightly (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, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.

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