Rolling Stone Is 50. How Does It Feel?

Jon Foro on May 24, 2017


Willie Nelson, Mark Seliger, 1996

Rolling Stone is 50. That's not initially surprising. It's always been around, a constant presence riding biorhythmic peaks and troughs of coolness over decades like its televised cousin, Saturday Night Live. What's a little more shocking is the realization that - when I first became aware of it and began flipping through its pages for anything I could find about War-era U2 or the Clash - Rolling Stone was only 15 years old. I was 15 years old. Sobering math, that.

That puts RS squarely into Institution territory (I can't quite claim the same), and when you're an institution, you get monuments. 50 Years of Rolling Stone: The Music, Politics and People that Changed Our Culture is one such object. Like the magazine's tabloid-sized pages, it's big - 11.5 by 14.4 inches, according to specs - while its 288 pages of heavy paper push it to almost seven pounds. On those pages you'll find five decades worth of photographs featuring icons of rock and roll, comedy, film, and television, as well as articles, excerpts, and profiles by and of some its legendary contributors: Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Greil Marcus, Gerri Hirshey, David Fricke, Matt Taibbi, Annie Leibovitz, and founder Jann S. Wenner. (It's fair to point out that the writers, as credited, skew white male, much more so than their subjects.)

When when the Rolling Stones (the band) toured for Tattoo You in the early 80s, everyone I knew thought that was their last chance to see them; they were 40 years old and there was no roadmap for aging rock stars. As it turns out, middle age isn't necessarily the end. But you better keep trying new things.

Enjoy these images from the book, reprinted with permission from Harry N. Abrams.


Madonna, Herb Ritts / Trunk Archive, 1987


B.B. King, Albert Watson, 1989


Pete Townshend, Baron Wolman / © Iconic Images, 1967


Adele, Theo Wenner, 2015


David Bowie, Herb Ritts / Trunk Archive, 1987


Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, Mark Seliger, 1993


Joni Mitchell, Baron Wolman / © Iconic Images, 1968


John Belushi, Bonnie Schiffman, 1980


Michael Jackson, © Henry Diltz, 1971

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