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
You might also like:
- "Well, it's like rock and roll. You get it or you don't. You can't really explain it": An interview with John Doe
- "Getting radical is something done with immediacy": The Photographs of Glen E. Friedman
- The Majesty of Rock: The Photographs of Danny Clinch
- Heart of Glass: Blondie, 1970s New York, and Chris Stein's Camera
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