50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 6

Issue #6 had a cover date of February 24, 1968. 24 pages. 25 cents. It contained a five-page spread called “It Happened in 1967” wherein Wenner was already mythologizing the year his magazine would spend the next 50 years celebrating. It was presented as an annual news wrap-up/mock election/awards presentation. The “awards” given out:

• Southern Comfort Award: Janis Joplin
• Turn, Turn, Turn Award: The Byrds
• Great Moment Award: The Gathering of the Tribes
• Newcomer of the Year Award: The Doors
• Memories Are Made of This Award: Jim Morrison
• Truth in Advertising Award: Not Donovan
• Rock and Roll Group of the Year Award: The Who
• Crystal Set Award: Program Director Tom Donahue
• Big Things Comes in Little Packages Award: Cream
• Doing the Thing Award: Country Joe and the Fish
• Buy Now Pay Later Medal: Bob Dylan
• The Rolling Stone Rolling Stone Award: The Rolling Stones
• Up Creeque Alley without a Paddle Award: The Mamas and the Papas
• Jefferson Airplane Award: The Jefferson Airplane
• Livin’ Is Easy Award: The Grateful Dead
• The Woman of the Year Award: Aretha Franklin
• Double Barrel Shotgun Award: Michael Bloomfield
• Scene for a Season Award: San Francisco
• Great Moments Award (#2): Monterey International Pop Festival
• Great Balls of Fire Award: Jimi Hendrix
• The 1967 Soul Award: Otis Redding
• Plus, unawarded items about the Lovin’ Spoonful, dope busts, the Beatles, Eric Burdon, Motown, Stevie Winwood, and movies.

It’s pretty obvious that Wenner’s idea of the rock and roll canon was already established. For the next 50 years nothing could possibly compare to the greatness of 1967. Wenner would soon grow cynical about music, preferring to put celebrities on the cover over artists. But for the time being, he was still earnest and idealistic. And that’s what makes these early issues of the Stone so fascinating. It’s a snapshot of the moment in time when Rolling Stone was an underground newspaper, fighting against the mainstream…before it eventually became the mainstream.

Like the majority of people do, Wenner stopped giving a shit about new music after his early twenties; unlike the majority of people, Wenner created a platform with which he could celebrate his favorite era for the next 50 years and convince future generations that the music of their youth was not as important or meaningful as the music of his youth.

Full-page ads for records: Songs for Leonard Cohen by Leonard Cohen on Columbia, Forever Changes by Love on Elektra, Tenderness Junction by the Fugs on Reprise.

Features: “Bob Dylan Turns Up For Woody Guthrie Memorial” by Sue C. Clark, Michael Lydon on the second Monterey Pop Festival, and a follow up about the First European Pop Festival in Rome.

There was also a half-page interview with jazz musician Charles Lloyd, who had taken out full-page ads in the previous two issues. Coincidence?

Ralph Gleason wrote his “Perspectives” column on how the “important groups” (e.g., Jefferson Airplane and the Quicksilver Messengers) were changing the music industry by demanding big advances and the rights to their own publishing.

As opposed to early (“pre-intellectual and pre-art”) rock and roll, “These groups are now creating the music out of their own experience, out of their own heads and in the process are also creating a life style which is going to change America. […] Change the way the moneychangers change money and you change the society. Rock is doing that.” Well, how’d that work out for everybody?

Gleason also published the transcription of an interview with B.B. King he did for radio station KQED.

Other features: Nick Jones’ Melody Maker interview with George Harrison, Jon Landau looks back at black soul vs. white rock in 1967 and predicts “the move from head music to earth music” in 1968.

Record reviews: Wild Honey by the Beach Boys on Capitol (no byline; i.e. Wenner), Tenderness Junction by the Fugs on Reprise by Robert Greenberg, Everything Playing by the Lovin’ Spoonful on Kama Sutra by Bruce Nye, Song Cycle by Van Dyke Parks on Warner Bros by Jim Miller, and John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan on Columbia by Gordon Mills.

This is also the issue where Wenner finally took Gleason’s advice to run a small ad requesting “writers and reviewers who have a few good things to say. […] We’ll read it; maybe we’ll print it; maybe we’ll pay you.”

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