50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 49

Rolling Stone issue #48 had a cover date of December 27, 1969. 64 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of Mick Jagger by Baron Wolman.

This is the final issue of the 1960s and with that we’re wrapping up our series. It’s been fun to revisit these old magazines, and to see how they influenced what we think of as the canon of classic rock. Jann Wenner’s anglophilia and provincial San Francisco biases are almost comically obvious, and it’s crazy to think how much one dude’s opinion continues to affect the entire music industry. Not to say the Beatles and the Stones and even Jefferson Airplane are not worthy subjects of exploration, but there was a whole lot more going on in the sixties than what was featured in Rolling Stone.

Wanner narrowed the definition of the decade down to what took place between the Monterey Pop festival in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969. Which, really, was just a blip. Everything before 1967 was oldies; everything after 1969 was compromised. Wenner’s idealized version of his early twenties overwhelms and sucks the oxygen out of any other period of music history. It’s ridiculous. But wow, what power!

Seems appropriate that the final issue of the sixties features a story about how the Rolling Stones are still planning to put on a free concert in San Francisco on December 6. At press time, they still didn’t have a location selected. Mick Jagger was pessimistic: “It depends on whether we can get a place. There are so many obstacles put in front of us. It’s gotten so fucking complicated.”

They would end up, of course, at the Altamont Speedway. Things didn’t turn into the “Little Woodstock” as they had hoped, but instead devolved into chaos, bad vibes, and violence, culminating in the stabbing death of Meredith Hunter by the Hells Angels. And that, so the story goes, was how the sixties ended.

Features: “Free Rolling Stones: It’s going to Happen!” by John Burks and Loraine Alterman; “Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Taylor & Reeves” by Ben Fong-Torres; “The Impressions” by Michael Alexander; “The Truth About Teen Movies” by Richard Staehling.

Christmas poster insert from Columbia Records.

News: “The OBE: Lennon’s Soul Redeemed” by Charles Alverson; SF Policeman: A Public Nuisance; “Magic Sam, 32, Is Dead”; “Monkees: Ho-ho-ho, Just Wait & See!” by Ed Ward; “Up Sky River Without a Paddle” by Patrick McDonald; TV Peace Show Aims for April; Lawsuit: Dylan Strikes Back; “40,000 Freaks in Palm Beach” by Bob Fiallo and Rory O’Connor; “Music Switchboard Holds the Line” by Amie Hill; Kinks Enormously Gratified in US; Rock & Roll Offed At Cafe Au Go Go; Commissioners Nix Free Hair; Blind Faith Split? Yes, No, Maybe; “Son House: You Can’t Fool God” by Michael Goodwin; “Have a Little talk with Myself Ray Stevens” by John Grissim; Dope Notes; Right A Wrong, Light Up; Krupa Rolls One Against Dope; The Border: Just A Routine Check; “Sympowowsium: What Comes After Woodstock?” by Jerry Hopkins; Condemned. Random Notes on Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Mick Jagger, the MC5, Family Dog, Bill Graham, B.B. King, Duane Allman, Sam and Dave, Lord Sutch, Blue Thumb, and Spade Cooley.

Reviews: Let It Bleed, Rolling Stones (by Greil Marcus); Let’s Work Together, Wilbert Harrison (by Langdon Winner); Ask the Cop on the Rooftop, Firesign Theatre (by Ed Ward); Second Winter/The Johnny Winter Story (by Lester Bangs); Jo-Ann Kelly (by Charlie Burton); Silk ‘n’ Soul/Feelin’ Bluesy/Nitty Gritty, Gladys Knight and the Pips (by Lester Bangs); Running Down the Road, Arlo Guthry (by Charlie Burton); In the Court of the Crimson King, King Crimson (by John Morthland); Ballad of Easy Rider, Byrds/Your Saving Grace, Steve Miller Band (by Ed Leimbacher); From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis, Elvis Presley (by Ed Leimbacher).

Columns: Books by Ed Leimbacher (on Rock and Roll Will Stand, edited by Greil Marcus); Books by Andrew Gordon (on Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down by Ishmael Reed).

Poetry: “Fucked Mind” by Tom Clark.

Subscription offer: Volunteers by Jefferson Airplane, free with 50 cents shipping. $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, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48.

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