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’50 Years of Rolling Stone’: New Book Celebrates Magazine’s Visual Legacy

Since 1967, we’ve been covering the best artists in rock & roll – here’s a look at some of our favorite portraits

Rolling Stone 50 Book

Nirvana (1992)

Mark Seliger for Rolling Stone

In late 1967, Jann Wenner, a 21-year-old Berkeley dropout living in San Francisco, published the first issue of Rolling Stone. He envisioned the magazine as a chronicle of the growing rock & roll scene, a publication of record for the artists he and his generation loved: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead. Over the next five decades, Rolling Stone writers interviewed the stars of every era, from David Bowie and Rod Stewart, to Michael Jackson and Madonna, to Nirvana and Beastie Boys.

But it wasn’t just the revealing interviews that kept the readers coming back – to accompany each story, the magazine featured stunning photography from masters like Annie Leibovitz and Mark Seliger. As part of the magazine’s 50th anniversary, Abrams Books has compiled some of the best work into a decade-by-decade book, looking back on the best articles, the best artists, the best scoops and the best shots from 1967 to 2017. Here, a look at some of the stunning work featured in the book.

On the steps of their group home in San Francisco, October 1967.

Baron Wolman/© Iconic Images

Grateful Dead, 1967

“My way is music. Music is me being me and trying to get higher. I’ve been into music so long that I’m dripping with it; it’s all I ever expect to do. I can’t do anything else.” – Jerry Garcia, “The Grateful Dead,” RS 40, August 23rd, 1969.

The Who frontman onstage at San Fransisco's Cow Palace, 1967.

Baron Wolman / © Iconic Images

Pete Townshend, 1967

“My visual thing was more my music than the actual guitar. I got to jump about, and the guitar became unimportant.” – “The Rolling Stone Interview,” RS 17 and 18, September 14th and 28th, 1968.

© Charles Gatewood / The Image Works

Rod Stewart, 1973

“Onstage last night… I felt like an old hooker….There does seem to be a lot more ‘take your trousers off,’ like that guy you saw yelling last night. Which is a mystery to me. It makes me feel like a stripteaser.” – “From Gasoline Alley to Park Ave.,” RS 137, June 21st, 1973.

Newport Folk Festival, July 1969

Baron Wolman / © Iconic Images

James Taylor, 1969

“It is very strange making a living out of being yourself.” – James Taylor, “The First Family of the New Rock,” RS 76, February 18th, 1971.

Michael Jackson at Motown's Los Angeles Offices, April 1971.

© Henry Diltz

Michael Jackson, 1971

“It takes me about two hours to do one whole song. I do my part first then they [the rest of the Jackson 5] do theirs.” – Michael Jackson, “The Jackson 5: The Men Don’t Know but the Little Girls Understand,” RS 81, April 29th, 1971.

Madonna in a Tokyo hotel room, February 1987.

Herb Ritts / Trunk Archive

Madonna, 1987

“People have this idea that if you’re sexual and beautiful and provocative, then there’s nothing else you could possibly offer. People have always had that image about women.” – “The Madonna Mystique,” RS 508, September 10th 1987. 

Mick Jagger, London 1987.

Herb Ritts / Trunk Archive

Mick Jagger, 1987

“To be honest, we never set out to make cultural changes.” “Mick Jagger’s 20th Anniversary Interview,” RS 512, November 5th to December 10th, 1987.

David Bowie in Los Angeles, 1987.

Herb Ritts / Trunk Archive

David Bowie, 1987

“There was a bloke who lived down the road from us who was a Ted – Eric, I think his name was. He had brilliant, curly ginger hair and razor blades in his collar – for purposes of not being molested, I guess, by other Teds. That I found very impressive.” – “Stardust Memories,” RS 498, April 23rd, 1987.

B.B. King, Norwich, Connecticut, 1989.

Albert Watson

B.B. King, 1989

“Don’t misunderstand me. I have nothing against sex at all. It was a long time before I was as active as some people may think. Yes, I have eight kids, and all of them don’t have the same mothers, but it wasn’t just like an overnight affair. Each one of those ladies I spent much time with.” – B.B. King, “Mississippi Homecoming,” RS 566, November 30th, 1989. 

John Belushi in Character as Captain Wild Bill Kelso for Steven Spielberg Movie '1941,' Hollywood, 1980.

Bonnie Schiffman

John Belushi, 1980

“In L.A. or New York, people look into the camera and forget to relate to the other performers. Here [in Chicago,] it’s family. Ensemble acting, that’s what Second City teaches you. It has nothing to do with stand-up comedy or jokes.” – John Belushi, “More Than Just a Pretty Face,” RS 361, January 21st, 1982.

Billy Idol in London November 1984.

EJ Camp

Billy Idol, 1984

“Don’t fuck with me, motherfuckers! Cause I’m going to be rich enough soon. I’ll be at your economic level, then fuck you, Rolling Stone!” – “A Brief Encounter With Billy Idol,” RS 440, January 31st, 1985.

Nirvana in Melbourne, Australia, February 1992.

Mark Seliger

Nirvana, 1992

“All I need is a break, and my stress will be over with. I’m going to get healthy and start over.” – Kurt Cobain, “Nirvana,” RS 628, April 16th, 1992. 

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog in Los Angeles, August 1993.

Mark Seliger

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, 1993

“People ask me how I come up with these hits, and I can only say that I know what I like, I’m quick to tell a motherfucker what I don’t like and know what people like to play in their cars.” – Dr. Dre, “Day of the Dre,” RS 666, September 30th, 1993. 

Beastie Boys in New York, May 1998.

Mark Seliger

Beastie Boys, 1998

“On this record [Hello Nasty] we went back to the three of us just getting together and sharing ideas, then piecing something together and spreading it out. So it’s much more of a collective where we’re all saying each other’s lyrics, like on ‘Paul’s Boutique.'” – Mike D., “The Boys Are Back in Town,” RS 792, August 6th, 1998. 

Spears in Kentwood, Louisiana, March 1999.

© David LaChapelle Studio Inc.

Britney Spears, 1999

“I had this idea where we’re in school and bored out of our minds, and we have catholic uniforms on. And I said, ‘Why don’t we have knee-highs and tie the shirts up to give it a little attitude?” – Britney Spears, “Inside the Heart and Mind (and Bedroom) of America’s New Teen Queen,” RS 810, April 15th, 1999. 

Baltimore, November 1996.

Matt Mahurin

Marilyn Manson, 1996

“Sometimes I wonder if I’m a character being written, or if I’m writing myself. It’s confusing.” – Marilyn Manson, “Sympathy for the Devil,” RS 752, January 23rd, 1997.

Willie Nelson, New York, April 1996.

Mark Seliger

Willie Nelson, 1996

“I can out-party Waylon [Jennings], but Kris [Kristofferson], he makes it a religion. Waylon, in his old age, he’d run anybody a race for their money. But since he’s quit drugs, he’s very boring. He’s reliable and all that shit. He shows up, he sings good. Who needs that?” – Willie Nelson, “Q&A,” RS 703, March 9th, 1995.  

Ringo Starr in New York, 1992.

Mark Seliger

Ringo Starr, 1992

“I’m doing more now than I’ve done since the early Seventies. From there, I faded out with lack of interest and a lot of medication. Ever since the first All-Starr tour, I’m just excited about music again. And my chops are back – you play a lot better if you play a lot. It’s great to get back, because that was my dream. At thirteen I wanted to be a drummer and nothing else. And that sort of got lost in the madness for a while.” – Ringo Starr, “Q&A,” RS 790/791, July 9th to 23rd, 1998.

Bruce Springsteen on the Asbury Park boardwalk, 2007.

Max Vadukul

Bruce Springsteen, 2007

“The people I loved – Woody Guthrie, Dylan – they were out on the frontier of the American imagination, and they were changing the course of history and our own ideas about who we were.” – “The Rolling Stone Interview,” RS 1038 November 1st, 2007.

Swift in Amagansett, NY July 2014

Theo Wenner

Taylor Swift, 2014

“I feel like watching my dating life has become a bit of a national pastime, And I’m just not comfortable providing that kind of entertainment anymore” – “The Reinvention of Taylor Swift,” RS 1218, September 25th, 2014. 

Adele, London, October 6th, 2015.

Theo Wenner

Adele, 2015

“‘Hello’ is as much about regrouping with myself, reconnecting with myself. [The line ‘hello from the other side’] sounds a bit morbid, like I’m dead. But it’s actually just from the other side of becoming an adult, making it out alive from your late teens, early twenties.” – “Adele: Inside Her Private Life and Triumphant Return,” RS 1248, November 19th, 2015. 

In This Article: nirvana, Photos

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