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First Time on the Cover

The images that started it all for John Lennon, Madonna and other stars with multiple Rolling Stone covers

john lennon rs 1

'How I Won the War' Film Still

John Lennon poses in a still from the film How I Won the War on the cover of the first issue of Rolling Stone. Lennon would go on to grace the cover two more times within the first ten issues on his way to becoming one of the most featured people on the cover of Rolling Stone.

Read the John Lennon issue of Rolling Stone from November 9, 1967.

paul mccartney rs3

Paul McCartney, 1967

Paul McCartney poses with the Beatles and their crew on the set of the Magical Mystery Tour. McCartney would go on to have the second most covers of any other Beatle, though it would take until the April 30, 1971 issue – McCartney's sixth cover – for him to appear solo. McCartney's long career on Rolling Stone's cover has seen him with different bands, different wives and even on a lunchbox.

Read the Paul McCartney issue of Rolling Stone from December 14, 1967.

eric clapton rs10

Photo by Linda Eastman

Eric Clapton, 1968

Eric Clapton's blues show through in his first cover of Rolling Stone. After this first cover while he was a member of Cream, Clapton would go on to appear on many other covers alone, as well as with the likes of Bono, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck.

Read the Eric Clapton issue of Rolling Stone from May 11, 1968.

bob dylan rs12

Photo Unknown; Illustrations by Milton Glaser and Robert Grossman

Bob Dylan, 1968

Bob Dylan holds up a cross on the cover of the 12th issue of Rolling Stone, his first of 16 covers between 1968 and 2012 including two back-to-back animated covers in 1972.

Read the Bob Dylan issue of Rolling Stone from June 22, 1968.

mick jagger rs15

Photo by Dean Goodhill

Mick Jagger, 1968

Mick Jagger's first cover highlights the Rolling Stones' release of Beggars Banquet. Jagger appeared solo on the cover 12 times in his early career – the band first appeared on the cover together in 1981.

Read the Mick Jagger issue of Rolling Stone from August 10, 1968.

jerry garcia rs40

Photo by Baron Wolman

Jerry Garcia, 1969

A leather-jacketed Jerry Garcia smiles on his first Rolling Stone cover. Garcia, whose Grateful Dead was profiled in Rolling Stone's first issue, had to wait until issue number 40 to land the cover. Garcia would go on to be featured over a dozen more times with and without his band and in some memorable illustrations.

Read the Jerry Garcia issue of Rolling Stone from August 23, 1969.

michael jackson rs81

Photo by Henry Diltz

Michael Jackson, 1971

The King of Pop landed his first Rolling Stone cover at just 11 years old. He would go on to appear on an additional four covers before his death in 2009.

Read the Michael Jackson issue of Rolling Stone from April 29, 1971.

keith richards rs89

Photo by Robert Altman

Keith Richards, 1971

Keith Richards becomes the second Rolling Stone to score his own cover with this issue. Richards would go on to share many of his subsequent covers with fellow Stone Mick Jagger and would also share a cover with Jack Sparrow himself, Johnny Depp.

Read the Keith Richards issue of Rolling Stone from August 19, 1971.

jack nicholson rs201

Illustration by Kim Whitesides

Jack Nicholson, 1975

Jack Nicholson is drawn by Kim Whitesides for his first Rolling Stone cover. Nicholson has gone on to appear on seven more covers between 1975 and 2011.

Read the Jack Nicholson issue of Rolling Stone from December 4, 1975.

hunter s thompson rs214

Illustrations by Greg Scott and Ralph Steadman; Photo by David Hiser

Hunter S. Thompson, 1976

Hunter S. Thompson peaks over a rock with his signature shades and lengthened cigarette in the bottom corner on the illustrated cover for his "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '76." Though he appeared on the cover several other times, it wasn't until his 2005 death that a photo of Thompson was used.

Read the Hunter S. Thompson issue of Rolling Stone from June 3, 1976.

bruce springsteen rs272

Photo by Lynn Goldsmith

Bruce Spingsteen, 1978

Bruce Springsteen appears in a black wifebeater for his first cover. Since 1978, Springsteen has appeared on over a dozen covers.

Read the Bruce Springsteen issue of Rolling Stone from August 24, 1978.

madonna rs435

Photo by Steven Meisel

Madonna, 1984

Madonna's series of sexy covers begins with the cover line, "Madonna Goes All the Way." She would go on to achieve the most covers of any female: a dozen between 1984 and 2009.

Read the Madonna issue of Rolling Stone from November 22, 1984.

johnny depp rs595

Photos by Herb Ritts and Matthew Rolston

Johnny Depp, 1991

A boyish-looking but nearly 30-year-old Johnny Depp poses on the cover after his success in Edward Scissorhands. Depp's Rolling Stone legacy would continue as he played writer Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Rum Diary. He would also appear on the cover with Keith Richards for their roles in Pirates of the Carribean.

Read the Johnny Depp issue of Rolling Stone from January 10, 1991.


kurt cobain nirvana rs628

Photo by Mark Seliger

Kurt Cobain, 1992

Kurt Cobain and Nirvana pose in a field for Nirvana's first appearance on cover, after the huge success of Nevermind. Cobain took his life less than six months after the band's second cover, in 1994.

Read the Nirvana issue of Rolling Stone from April 16, 1992.

red hot chili pepper rs633

Photo by Mark Seliger

Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1992

Chad Smith, Anthony Kiedis and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers pose nude on the cover during the height of the band's success for Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Their clothes would never quite come all the way back on for any of the group's later covers.

Read the Red Hot Chili Peppers issue of Rolling Stone from June 25, 1992.

britney spears rs810

Photo by David LaChapelle, Matthew Rolston, and Peggy Sirota

Britney Spears, 1999

A then-17-year-old Britney Spears sports hot pants and clutches a Teletubby for her first cover, shot when "…One More Time" was dominating the charts. Spears' Rolling Stone covers chronicle her career's rise, fall and comeback.

Read the Britney Spears issue of Rolling Stone from April 15, 1999.

eminem rs811

Photo by David LaChapelle

Eminem, 1999

Eminem stares blankly at the reader on his rookie cover. The brightness of Slim Shady in 1999 would soon fade to darker tones in Eminem's later cover appearances.

Read the Eminem issue of Rolling Stone from April 29, 1999.

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Photo by David LaChapelle

Lady Gaga, 2009

Lady Gaga poses amongst bubbles for her first Rolling Stone cover. She would go on to pose for two more covers over the next two years.

Read the Lady Gaga issue of Rolling Stone from June 11, 2009.

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