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Behind the Jonas Brothers Cover: Teen Idols in Rolling Stone

June 23, 2009 9:18 PM ET

If you are reading this column, I assume that you are a regular reader of this magazine. And I think I know what you are thinking: "The Jonas Brothers again? Give me a #$*!-ing break!" Believe me, I understand. When Rolling Stone featured Suzi Quatro on the cover in 1975, I remember vowing, "I'm never buying this magazine again." (Click here to see photos of teen idols on the cover of Rolling Stone.)

But let's put it in perspective. Most of the things you can say about teen pop are true — the prefab hooks, the corporate machine, the screaming girls. But weren't Buddy Holly and Sam Cooke once teen idols? Not to mention Stevie Wonder? The Beatles? By the time Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, most people could barely remember the name of his old group.

The smart teen idols realize that unless they want to spend their lives as a punch line — or playing Kenickie in Grease on Ice — they'll need a better exit plan than Celebrity Rehab. There's no audience more fickle than an arena full of shrieking girls. On top of that, it's a brutal gig. As fast as the ride ends, most of these guys can't wait for it to be over. Some, like Timberlake — and, we bet, Nick Jonas — have pure talent to fall back on. But most end up barely clinging to the C list.

We always liked how David Cassidy escaped with his dignity intact when he used a 1972 Rolling Stone cover story to blow up his clean-scrubbed image. There he was, naked on the cover. The story was full of groupies and drugs, and portrayed a tired young man who wanted to be left alone. Cassidy's career as a teen dream was over, just as he wanted it.

The Jonas Brothers don't seem to be anywhere near that breaking point. But here's the deal we're offering: If any of you guys start to feel hemmed in and want to talk about what really goes on in the dressing room, give us a call.

Photos: Teen Idols on the Cover of Rolling Stone

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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