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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.

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. 

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