Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular
culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann
Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and the music critic
Ralph J. Gleason. It was first known for its musical coverage and for
political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine
shifted focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented
television shows, film actors, and popular music. In recent
years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content.
Rolling Stone Press is the magazine's associated book publishing
Straight Arrow Press was the magazine's associated book
publishing imprint, Straight Arrow Publishing Co., Inc. was the
publishing company that published Rolling Stone.
1.1 Founding and early history
3 Editorial stance
5.1 Tsarnaev cover
5.2 UVA false rape story
6 In popular culture
8 International editions
9 See also
10 Additional reading
12 External links
Founding and early history
Rolling Stone magazine was founded in
San Francisco in 1967 by Jann
Wenner and Ralph Gleason. To get it off the ground, Wenner
borrowed $7,500 from his own family and from the parents of his
soon-to-be wife, Jane Schindelheim. The first issue carried
a cover date of November 9, 1967, and was in newspaper
format with a lead article on the Monterey Pop Festival.
The cover price was 25¢ (equivalent to $1.88 in 2016).
In the first issue, Wenner explained that the title of the
magazine referred to the 1950 blues song "Rollin' Stone", recorded by
Muddy Waters, and Bob Dylan's hit single "Like a Rolling Stone":
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You're probably wondering what we're trying to do. It's hard to say:
sort of a magazine and sort of a newspaper. The name of it is Rolling
Stone which comes from an old saying, "A rolling stone gathers no
Muddy Waters used the name for a song he wrote. The Rolling Stones
took their name from Muddy's song. "Like a Rolling Stone" was the
title of Bob Dylan's first rock and roll record. We have begun a new
publication reflecting what we see are the changes in rock and roll
and the changes related to rock and roll."—Jann Wenner, Rolling
Stone, November 9, 1967, p. 2
Some authors have attributed the name solely to Dylan's hit single:
"At [Ralph] Gleason's suggestion, Wenner named his magazine after a
Bob Dylan song."
Rolling Stone initially identified with
and reported the hippie counterculture of the era. However, it
distanced itself from the underground newspapers of the time, such as
Berkeley Barb, embracing more traditional journalistic standards and
avoiding the radical politics of the underground press. In the very
first edition, Wenner wrote that
Rolling Stone "is not just about the
music, but about the things and attitudes that music embraces".
In the 1970s,
Rolling Stone began to make a mark with its political
coverage, with the likes of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson
writing for the magazine's political section. Thompson first published
his most famous work
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas within the pages
of Rolling Stone, where he remained a contributing editor until his
death in 2005. In the 1970s, the magazine also helped
launch the careers of many prominent authors, including Cameron Crowe,
Lester Bangs, Joe Klein, Joe Eszterhas, Ben Fong-Torres, Patti Smith
and P. J. O'Rourke. It was at this point that the magazine ran some of
its most famous stories, including that of the
Patty Hearst abduction
odyssey. One interviewer, speaking for a large number of his peers,
said that he bought his first copy of the magazine upon initial
arrival on his college campus, describing it as a "rite of
In 1977, the magazine moved its headquarters from
San Francisco to New
York City. Editor
Jann Wenner said
San Francisco had become "a
During the 1980s, the magazine began to shift towards being a general
"entertainment" magazine. Music was still a dominant topic, but there
was increasing coverage of celebrities in television, films and the
pop culture of the day. The magazine also initiated its annual "Hot
Issue" during this time.
Rolling Stone was initially known for its musical coverage and for
Thompson's political reporting. In the 1990s, the magazine changed its
format to appeal to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented
television shows, film actors and popular music. This led to criticism
that the magazine was emphasizing style over substance. In
recent years, the magazine has resumed its traditional mix of content,
including in-depth political stories. It has also expanded content to
include coverage of financial and banking issues. As a result, the
magazine has seen its circulation increase and its reporters invited
as experts to network television programs of note.
The printed format has gone through several changes. The first
publications, in 1967–72, were in folded tabloid newspaper format,
with no staples, black ink text, and a single color highlight that
changed each edition. From 1973 onwards, editions were produced on a
four-color press with a different newsprint paper size. In 1979, the
bar code appeared. In 1980, it became a gloss-paper, large format
(10"×12") magazine. As of edition of October 30, 2008, Rolling Stone
has had a smaller, standard-format magazine size.
After years of declining readership, the magazine experienced a major
resurgence of interest and relevance with the work of two young
journalists in the late 2000s, Michael Hastings and Matt
In 2005, Dana Leslie Fields, former publisher of Rolling Stone, who
had worked at the magazine for 17 years, was an inaugural inductee
into the Magazine Hall of Fame.
In 2009, Taibbi unleashed an acclaimed series of scathing reports on
the financial meltdown of the time. He famously described Goldman
Sachs as "a great vampire squid".
Bigger headlines came at the end of June 2010.
Rolling Stone caused a
controversy in the
White House by publishing in the July issue an
article by journalist Michael Hastings entitled, "The Runaway
General", quoting criticism by General Stanley A.
McChrystal, commander of the International Security Assistance Force
and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan commander, about Vice President Joe Biden
and other Administration members of the White House. McChrystal
resigned from his position shortly after his statements went
In 2010, Taibbi documented illegal and fraudulent actions by banks in
the foreclosure courts, after traveling to Jacksonville, Florida and
sitting in on hearings in the courtroom. His article, Invasion of the
Home Snatchers also documented attempts by the judge to intimidate a
homeowner fighting foreclosure and the attorney Taibbi accompanied
into the court.
In January 2012, the magazine ran exclusive excerpts from Hastings'
book just prior to publication. The book, The Operators:
The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan,
provided a much more expansive look at McChrystal and the culture of
senior American military and how they become embroiled in such wars.
The book reached Amazon's bestseller list in the first 48 hours of
release, and it received generally favorable reviews. Salon's Glenn
Greenwald described it as "superb," "brave" and
In 2012, Taibbi, through his coverage of the Libor
scandal, emerged as an expert on that topic, which led to
media appearances outside Rolling Stone.
On November 9, 2012, the magazine published its first Spanish-language
section on Latino music and culture, in the issue dated November
In September 2016,
Advertising Age reported that Wenner is in the
process of selling a 49% stake of the magazine to a company from
Singapore called BandLab. The new investor will have no direct
involvement in the editorial content of the magazine.
In September 2017, Wenner Media announced that the remaining 51% of
Rolling Stone magazine is up for sale. In December 2017,
Penske Media acquired the remaining stake from Wenner
Media. On January 31, 2019, Penske acquired 49% of Rolling
Stone from BandLab Technologies.
Rolling Stone's website features selected current articles,
reviews, blogs, MP3s. The website also has other features, such as
searchable and free encyclopedic articles about artists, with images
and sometimes sound clips of their work. The articles and reviews are
sometimes in a revised form of the published versions. The website
also carries political and cultural articles and entries selected from
the magazine's archives.
The site at one time had an extensive message-board forum. By the late
1990s, this had developed into a thriving community, with a large
number of regular members and contributors worldwide. However, the
site was also plagued with numerous Internet trolls and malicious
code-hackers, who vandalized the forum substantially. The
magazine abruptly deleted the forum in May 2004, then began a new,
much more limited message board community on their site in late 2005,
only to remove it again in 2006. In March 2008, the website started a
new message board section once again, then deleted it in April 2010.
Rolling Stone devotes one of its table of contents pages to promoting
material currently appearing on its website, listing detailed links to
the items. The magazine also has a page at MySpace, Facebook and
On April 19, 2010, the website was updated drastically and now
features the complete archives of Rolling Stone. The
archive was first launched under a for-pay model, but has since
transitioned to a free-with-print-subscription model. In
the spring of 2012,
Rolling Stone launched a federated search feature
which searches both the website and the archive.
The website has become an interactive source of biographical
information on music artists in addition to historical rankings from
the magazine. Users can cross-reference lists and they are also
provided with historical insights. For example, one group that is
listed on both
Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and
Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time is Toots and the
Maytals, with biographical details from
Rolling Stone that explain how
Toots and the Maytals
Toots and the Maytals are responsible for coining the term "reggae" in
their song "Do the Reggay". For biographical
information on all artists, the website contains a directory listed
In May 2016, Wenner Media announced plans to create a separate online
publication dedicated to the coverage of video games and their
culture. Gus Wenner, Jann Wenner's son, stated that "gaming is today
what rock 'n' roll was when
Rolling Stone was founded". Glixel was
originally hosted on Rolling Stone's website and transitioned to
its own domain by October 2016. Stories from Glixel are included on
Rolling Stone website, while writers for
Rolling Stone were also
able to contribute to Glixel. The site was headed by John Davison, and
its offices were located in San Francisco.
Rolling Stone closed down the offices in June 2017 and fired the
entire staff, citing the difficulties of working with the remote site
from their main New York office. Brian Crecente, founder of Kotaku and
co-founder of bigger Polygon, was hired as editorial director and runs
the site from the main New York office. Following the sale
of Rolling Stone's assets to
Penske Media Corporation, the Glixel
content was merged into the routine publishing of Variety, with
Crecente still as editorial director.
Rolling Stone endorsed Democratic candidate
Hillary Clinton in the
run-up for the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In December 2009, the Los Angeles Times reported that the owners of
Rolling Stone magazine planned to open a
Rolling Stone restaurant in
the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood in the spring of
2010. The expectation was that the restaurant could become
the first of a national chain if it was successful. As of
November 2010, the "soft opening" of the restaurant was planned for
December 2010. In 2011, the restaurant was open for lunch
and dinner as well as a full night club downstairs on the
weekends. The restaurant closed in February
One major criticism of
Rolling Stone involves its generational bias
toward the 1960s and 1970s. One critic referred to the Rolling Stone
list of the "500 Greatest Songs" as an example of "unrepentant rockist
fogeyism". In further response to this issue, rock critic
Jim DeRogatis, a former
Rolling Stone editor, published a thorough
critique of the magazine's lists in a book called Kill Your Idols: A
New Generation of Rock Writers Reconsiders the Classics, which
featured differing opinions from many younger critics.
Rolling Stone magazine has been criticized for reconsidering many
classic albums that it had previously dismissed, and for frequent use
of the 3.5-star rating. For example,
Led Zeppelin was largely written
Rolling Stone magazine critics during the band's most active
years in the 1970s, but by 2006, a cover story on the band honored
them as "the Heaviest Band of All Time". A critic for
Slate magazine described a conference at which 1984's The Rolling
Stone Record Guide was scrutinized. As he described it, "The guide
virtually ignored hip-hop and ruthlessly panned heavy metal, the two
genres that within a few years would dominate the pop charts. In an
auditorium packed with music journalists, you could detect more than a
few anxious titters: How many of us will want our record reviews read
back to us 20 years hence?"
The hiring of former
FHM editor Ed Needham further enraged critics who
Rolling Stone had lost its credibility.
The 2003 Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of all Time article,
which named only two female musicians, resulted in Venus Zine
answering with their own list, entitled "The Greatest Female
Guitarists of All Time".
Jonah Goldberg stated that
Rolling Stone had
"essentially become the house organ of the Democratic National
Rolling Stone editor
Jann Wenner has made all
of his political donations to Democrats.
Rolling Stone's film critic, Peter Travers, has been criticized
for his high number of repetitively used
The August 2013
Rolling Stone cover, featuring then-accused (later
convicted) Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, drew widespread
criticism that the magazine was "glamorizing terrorism" and that the
cover was a "slap in the face to the great city of
Boston". The online edition of the article was accompanied
by a short editorial stating that the story "falls within the
traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone's long-standing commitment
to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and
cultural issues of our day". The controversial cover
photograph that was used by
Rolling Stone had previously featured on
the front page of
The New York Times
The New York Times on May 5, 2013.
In response to the outcry, New England-based
CVS Pharmacy and Tedeschi
Food Shops banned their stores from carrying the issue.
Also refusing to sell the issue were
Rite-Aid and Kmart;
Roche Bros. and Stop &
H-E-B and Walmart;
Hy-Vee, Rutter's Farm, and United Supermarkets;
Cumberland Farms and Market Basket;
Thomas Menino sent a letter to
Rolling Stone publisher
Jann Wenner, calling the cover "ill-conceived, at best ... [it]
reaffirms a message that destruction gains fame for killers and their
'causes'." Menino also wrote, "To respond to you in anger is to feed
into your obvious market strategy", and that Wenner could have written
about the survivors or the people who came to help after the bombings
instead. In conclusion he wrote, "The survivors of the Boston Marathon
Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that
Rolling Stone deserves them."
UVA false rape story
Main article: A Rape on Campus
In the November 19, 2014 issue, the story "A Rape on Campus" was run
about an alleged gang rape on the campus of the University of
Virginia. Separate inquiries by Phi Kappa Psi, the
fraternity accused by
Rolling Stone of facilitating the alleged rape,
The Washington Post
The Washington Post revealed major errors, omissions and
discrepancies in the story. Reporter Sabrina
Erdely's story was subject to intense media
The Washington Post
The Washington Post and Boston
Herald issued calls for magazine staff involved in the report to be
Rolling Stone subsequently issued three apologies
for the story. Some suggested that legal action against the magazine
by persons accused of the rape might result.
On December 5, 2014, Rolling Stone's managing editor, Will Dana,
apologized for not fact-checking the story. Rolling Stone
commissioned an outside investigation of the story and its problems by
the dean of the Columbia School of Journalism. The report uncovered
journalistic failure in the UVA story and institutional problems with
reporting at Rolling Stone.
Rolling Stone retracted the
story on April 5, 2015. On April 6, 2015, following the
investigation and retraction of the story,
Phi Kappa Psi
Phi Kappa Psi announced
plans to pursue all available legal action against Rolling Stone,
including claims of defamation.
On May 12, 2015, UVA associate dean Nicole Eramo, chief administrator
for handling sexual assault issues at the school, filed a
$7.5 million defamation lawsuit in Charlottesville Circuit Court
Rolling Stone and Erdely, claiming damage to her reputation
and emotional distress. Said the filing, "
Rolling Stone and Erdely's
highly defamatory and false statements about Dean Eramo were not the
result of an innocent mistake. They were the result of a wanton
journalist who was more concerned with writing an article that
fulfilled her preconceived narrative about the victimization of women
on American college campuses, and a malicious publisher who was more
concerned about selling magazines to boost the economic bottom line
for its faltering magazine, than they were about discovering the truth
or actual facts." On November 4, 2016, after 20 hours of
deliberation, a jury consisting of eight women and two men
found Rolling Stone, the magazine's publisher and Erdely liable for
On July 29, 2015, three graduates of the fraternity Phi Kappa Psi
filed a lawsuit against Rolling Stone, its publisher Wenner Media, and
a journalist for defamation and infliction of emotional
distress. The same day, and just months after the
The New York Times
The New York Times reported that managing editor
Will Dana was departing the magazine with his last date recorded as
August 7, 2015. On November 9, 2015, the Phi Kappa Psi
Fraternity filed suit for $25 million for damages to its
reputation caused by the magazine's publication of this story, "with
reckless disregard for the truth".
In popular culture
George Harrison's song "This Guitar" (1975), a lyrical sequel to his
Beatles track "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (1968), references the
magazine in its second verse: "Learned to get up when I fall / Can
Rolling Stone walls". The song was written in response to
some highly unfavorable reviews from
Rolling Stone and other
publications for Harrison's 1974 North American tour and the Dark
The 2000 film
Almost Famous centers on a teenage journalist writing
for the magazine in the early 1970s while covering the fictional band
"The Cover of Rolling Stone" is a song written by
Shel Silverstein and
first recorded by American rock group Dr. Hook & the Medicine
Show. The song satirizes success in the music business; the song's
narrator laments that his band, despite having the superficial
attributes of a successful rock star (including drug usage, "teenage
groupies, who'll do anything we say" and a frenetic guitar solo) has
been unable to "get their pictures/on the cover of the Rolling Stone".
See also: List of people on the United States cover of Rolling Stone
Some artists have been featured on the cover many times, and some of
these pictures went on to become iconic. The Beatles, for example,
have appeared on the cover more than 30 times, either individually or
as a band. The first 10 issues featured, in order of
appearance, the following:
Donovan & Otis Redding
Monterey Pop Festival
John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Argentina – Published by Publirevistas S. A. since April 1998. This
edition also circulates in Bolivia,
Paraguay and Uruguay.
Rolling Stone Australia
Rolling Stone Australia began as a supplement in 1969 in
Revolution magazine. It became a full title in 1971 published by
Phillip Frazer. It was published by Silvertongues from 1974 to 1987
Nextmedia Pty Ltd, Sydney until 2008. Notable editors and
contributors include Phillip Frazer, Alistair Jones, Paul and Jane
Gardiner, Toby Creswell,
Clinton Walker and Kathy Bail. It was the
longest running international edition but closed in January
Brazil – Published in
Brazil since October 2006 by Spring
Bulgaria – Published in
Bulgaria since November 2009 by Sivir
Publications. Ceased publication as of the August/September 2011
Chile – Published by Edu Comunicaciones from May 2003 to December
2005. Published by
El Mercurio from January 2006 to December 2011.
Rolling Stone in mainland China was licensed to One Media
Group of Hong Kong and published in partnership with China Record
Corporation in 2006. The magazine was in Chinese with translated
articles and local content. It halted publication after one year.
Croatia – Published since October 2013 – 2015 by S3 Mediji. This
edition also circulates in Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia,
Serbia and Slovenia.
Colombia – Edited in
Bogotá for Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, Panama
and Venezuela, since 1991.
France – Launched 2002. This edition temporarily ceased in 2007 and
was relaunched in May 2008 under license with 1633SA publishing group.
Germany – Published in Germany since 1994 by Axel Springer AG.
India – Launched in March 2008 by MW Com, publishers of Man's World
Indonesia – Published in
Indonesia from June 2005 to January 1,
2018 by a&e Media.
Italy – Published in Italy since 1980. After ceasing publication in
1982, it was relaunched in November 2003, first by IXO Publishing, and
then by Editrice Quadratum until April 2014. The magazine is currently
published by Luciano Bernardini de Pace Editore.
Japan – Launched in March 2007 by International Luxury Media Co.,
Ltd. (ILM). Published by atomixmedia
Inc. (株式会社アトミックスメディア, KK
atomikkusumedia) since 2011.
Mexico – Published by
PRISA Internacional from 2002 until May 2009;
from June 2009 it is published by Editorial
Televisa (subsidiary of
Televisa) under license.
Middle East – Published in
Dubai by HGW Media since November 2010.
Russia – Published since 2004, by Motor Media.
Spain – Published by PROGRESA (subsidiary of
PRISA Group) in Madrid,
Turkey – Published since June 2006 by GD Gazete Dergi.
South Africa – Published since November 2011.
United Kingdom – Published under the title Friends from 1969 to
Rolling Stone Interview
Counterculture of the 1960s
Ember, Sydney (September 17, 2017). "Rolling Stone, Once a
Counterculture Bible, Will Be Put Up for Sale". The New York Times.
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