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500 Greatest Albums of All Time

Rolling Stone’s definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The RS 500 was assembled by the editors of Rolling Stone, based on the results of two extensive polls. In 2003, Rolling Stone asked a panel of 271 artists, producers, industry executives and journalists to pick the greatest albums of all time. In 2009, we asked a similar group of 100 experts to pick the best albums of the 2000s. From those results, Rolling Stone created this new list of the greatest albums of all time.

13

The Velvet Underground and Nico, ‘The Velvet Underground’

Verve, 1967

"We were trying to do a Phil Spector thing with as few instruments as possible," John Cale, the classically trained pianist and viola player of the Velvet Underground, said of this record. It was no idle boast. Much of what we take for granted in rock would not exist without this New York band or its seminal debut: the androgynous sexuality of glitter; punk's raw noir; the blackened-riff howl of grunge and noise rock; goth's imperious gloom. Recorded dirt-cheap at a studio that was literally falling apart, it is a record of fearless breadth and lyric depth. Singer-songwriter Lou Reed documented carnal desire and drug addiction, decadence and redemption, with a pop wisdom he learned as a song-factory composer for Pickwick Records. Cale introduced the power of pulse and drone (from his work with minimalist composer La Monte Young); guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker played with tribal force; Nico, a German vocalist added to the band by manager Andy Warhol, brought an icy femininity to the heated ennui in Reed's songs. Rejected as nihilistic by the love crowd in '67, the Banana Album (so named for its Warhol-designed cover) is the most pro­phetic rock album ever made.

12

Miles Davis, ‘Kind of Blue’

Columbia, 1959

This painterly masterpiece would become one of the most important, influential and popular albums in jazz. But at the time it was made, Kind of Blue was a revolution all its own, a radical break from everything going on. Turning his back on standard chord progressions, trumpeter Miles Davis used modal scales as a starting point for composition and improvisation – breaking new ground with warmth, subtlety and understatement in the thick of hard bop. Davis and his peerless band – bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Jimmy Cobb, pianist Bill Evans, and the titanic sax team of John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley – soloed in uncluttered settings, typified by "melodic rather than harmonic variation," as Davis put it. Two numbers, "All Blues" and "Freddie Freeloader" (the latter featured Wynton Kelly at the ivories in place of Evans), were in 12-bar form, but Davis' approach allowed his players a cool, new, collected freedom. Evans wrote in his original liner notes, "Miles conceived these settings only hours before the re­cording dates and arrived with sketches which indicated to the group what was to be played. Therefore, you will hear something close to pure spontaneity in these performances." Or as the late critic Robert Palmer wrote, "Kind of Blue is, in a sense, all melody – and atmosphere." The bass line in "So What" is now among the most familiar obbligatos in jazz, and there is no finer evocation of the late-night wonder of jazz than the muted horns in "All Blues."

11

Elvis Presley, ‘The Sun Sessions’

RCA, 1999

Many believe rock & roll was born on July 5th, 1954, at Sun Studio in Memphis. Elvis Presley, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black were horsing around with "That's All Right, Mama," a tune by bluesman Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, when producer Sam Phillips stopped them and asked, "What are you doing?" "We don't know," they said. Phillips told them to "back up and do it again." The A side of Presley's first single (backed with a version of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky"), "That's All Right" was issued by Sun on July 19th. It may or may not be the first rock & roll record. But the man who would be King was officially on wax. Bridging black and white, country and blues, his sound was playful and revolutionary, charged by a spontaneity and freedom that changed the world. "It's the blues," critic Greil Marcus wrote in his classic book Mystery Train. "But free of all worry, all sin; a simple joy with no price to pay." Presley released four more singles on Sun – including definitive reinventions of Wynonie Harris' "Good Rockin' Tonight" and Junior Parker's "Mystery Train" – before moving on to immortality when Phillips sold his contract to RCA for $35,000. Incredibly, it took more than 20 years for Presley's Sun output to be properly collected on a 1976 LP – which has since been superseded by this 1999 double-CD chronicle of the King's beginnings at Sun. It collects everything he cut at the studio, including alternate takes and the 1953 acetate he recorded as a gift for his mother as a shy and awkward recent high school graduate.

10

The Beatles, ‘The White Album’

Capitol, 1968

They wrote the songs while on retreat with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India, taking a break from the celebrity whirl. As John Lennon later said, "We sat in the mountains eating lousy vegetarian food and writing all these songs." They came back with more great tunes than they could fit on a single LP, and competed fiercely during the sessions. "I remember having three studios operating at the same time," George Harrison recalled. "Paul was doing some overdubs in one, John was in another, and I was recording some horns or something in a third." The sessions became so tense that Ringo Starr quit the band in frustration for two weeks. Yet the creative tension resulted in one of the most intense and adventurous rock albums ever made. Lennon pursued his hard-edged vision into the cynical wit of "Sexy Sadie" and "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," but also infused "Julia" and "Dear Prudence" with childlike yearning. Paul McCartney's playful pop energy came through on his inversion of Chuck Berry's American values, "Back in the U.S.S.R.," and he showed off his raucous side in "Helter Skelter." Harrison's spiritual yearning led him to "Long, Long, Long" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," featuring a guest guitar solo from Eric Clapton. Even Starr contributed his first original, the country-tinged "Don't Pass Me By." "I think it was a very good album," said McCartney. "It stood up, but it wasn't a pleasant one to make."

9

Bob Dylan, ‘Blonde on Blonde’

Columbia, 1966

Released on May 16th, 1966, rock's first studio double LP by a major artist was, as Dylan declared in 1978, "the closest I ever got to the sound I hear in my mind… that thin, that wild-mercury sound." There is no better description of the album's manic brilliance. After several false-start sessions in New York in the fall of 1965 and January 1966 with his killer road band the Hawks – "One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)" was the only keeper – Dylan blazed through the rest of Blonde on Blonde's 14 tracks in one four-day run and one three-day run at Columbia's Nashville studios in February and March 1966.

The pace of recording echoed the amphetamine velocity of Dylan's songwriting and touring schedule at the time. But the combined presence of trusted hands like organist Al Kooper and Hawks guitarist Robbie Robertson with expert local sessionmen including drummer Kenneth ­Buttrey and pianist Hargus "Pig" Robbins created an almost contradictory magnificence: a tightly wound tension around Dylan's quicksilver language and incisive singing in barrelhouse surrealism such as "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" and "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again," the hilarious Chicago-style blues "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" and the scornful, fragile "Just Like a Woman," still his greatest ballad.

Amid the frenzy, Dylan delivered some of his finest, clearest songs of comfort and desire: the sidelong beauty of the 11-minute "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands," recorded in just one take at four in the morning after an eight-hour session, and "I Want You," the title of which Dylan almost used for the album.

8

The Clash, ‘London Calling’

Epic, 1980

Recorded in 1979 in London, which was then wrenched by surging unemployment and drug addiction, and released in America in January 1980, the dawn of an uncertain decade, London Calling is 19 songs of apocalypse, fueled by an unbending faith in rock & roll to beat back the darkness. Produced with no-surrender energy by legendary Seventies studio madman Guy Stevens, the Clash's third album skids from bleak punk ("London Calling") to rampaging ska ("Wrong 'Em Boyo") and disco resignation ("Lost in the Supermarket"). The album was made in dire straits too. The band was heavily in debt and openly at war with its record company. Singer-guitarists Joe Strummer and Mick Jones wrote together in Jones' grandmother's flat. "Joe, once he learned how to type, would bang the lyrics out," Jones said. "Then I'd be able to bang out some music while he was hitting the typewriter." Strummer, Jones, bassist Paul Simonon and drummer Topper Headon spent nearly three months rehearsing and demoing songs in a garage in the Pimlico section of London – "with one light and filthy carpet on the walls for soundproofing," recalled Strummer in 1989. "We felt that we were struggling," he said, "about to slide down a slope or something, grasping with our fingernails." But Stevens was on hand for inspiration. He threw chairs around the room "if he thought a track needed zapping up," according to Strummer. The album ends with "Train in Vain," a rousing song of fidelity (unlisted on the back cover because it was added at the last minute) that became the sound of triumph: the Clash's first Top 30 single in the U.S.

7

The Rolling Stones, ‘Exile on Main Street’

Rolling Stones Records, 1972

A dirty whirl of blues and boogie, the Rolling Stones' 1972 double LP "was the first grunge record," guitarist Keith Richards crowed proudly in a 2002 interview. But inside the deliberately dense squall – Richards' and Mick Taylor's dogfight riffing, the lusty jump of the Bill Wyman-Charlie Watts rhythm engine, Mick Jagger's caged-­animal bark and burned-soul croon – is the Stones' greatest album and Jagger and Richards' definitive songwriting statement of outlaw pride and dedication to grit. In the existential shuffle "Tumbling Dice," the exhausted country beauty "Torn and Frayed" and the whiskey-soaked uplift of "Shine a Light," you literally hear the Stones in exile: working at Richards' villa in the South of France, and on the run from media censure, British drug police (Jagger and Richards already knew the view from behind bars) and the country's onerous tax code. Exile is rife with allusions to their outsider status: The album's cover is a collage of freakish American characters, and on "Sweet Black Angel" they toast imprisoned activist Angela Davis – one set of renegades to another. The music rattles like battle but also swings with clear purpose on songs like "Rocks Off" and "All Down the Line." As Richards explained, "The Stones don't have a home anymore – hence the Exile – but they can still keep it together. Whatever people throw at us, we can still duck, improvise, overcome." Great example: Richards recorded his jubilant romp "Happy" with just producer Jimmy Miller on drums and saxman Bobby Keys – while waiting for the other Stones to turn up for work. Exile on Main Street is the Stones at their fighting best, armed with the blues, playing to win.

6

Marvin Gaye, ‘What’s Going On’

Motown, 1971

"In 1969 or 1970, I began to re-evaluate my whole concept of what I wanted my music to say," Marvin Gaye said. "I was very much affected by letters my brother was sending me from Vietnam, as well as the social situation here at home. I realized that I had to put my own fantasies behind me if I wanted to write songs that would reach the souls of people. I wanted them to take a look at what was happening in the world." The masterpiece that followed Gaye's awakening revolutionized black music. From its rich, string-suffused grooves to its boundless sense of possibility, What's Going On is the Sgt. Pepper of soul.

Gaye was determined to shatter Motown's pop formula and address pressing social issues. Motown founder Berry Gordy was not pleased. He claimed that "What's Going On" was the worst song he had ever heard. As for "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)," Gordy asserted that he didn't even know what the word "ecology" meant. Gaye responded that he would never record for Motown again unless "What's Going On" was released as a single. After initially being rejected by Motown's quality-control committee, it was; when the song became a Top Five hit, the album – and a burst of socially conscious music from Motown – followed soon after. Working amid a haze of marijuana smoke, Gaye made one intuitively brilliant decision after another – from letting the tapes roll as his friends mingled to recording the rehearsal exercises of saxophonist Eli Fontaine. When Fontaine told Gaye that he had just been goofing around, Gaye replied, "Well, you goof exquisitely. Thank you." And that's how the plaintive saxophone line that announces What's Going On came to be.

5

The Beatles, ‘Rubber Soul’

Capitol, 1965

In 1965, radios were abuzz with such groundbreaking singles as "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "Like a Rolling Stone." That December, the Beatles met their peers' challenge head-on with Rubber Soul, a stunning collection that preserved the taut pop focus of the band's earlier LPs while introducing newfound sophistication and depth. Producer George Martin described Rubber Soul as "the first album to present a new, growing Beatles to the world," and so it was.

The moptops were evolving in remarkable ways. "Drive My Car" is a comic character study of a sort not previously in the Beatles' repertoire. More profoundly, however, Bob Dylan's influence suffuses the album, accounting for the tart emotional tone of "Norwegian Wood," "I'm Looking Through You," "You Won't See Me" and "If I Needed Someone." (Dylan would return the compliment the following year, when he offered his own version of "Norwegian Wood" – titled "4th Time Around" – on Blonde on Blonde, and reportedly made John Lennon paranoid.) Lennon's "Nowhere Man," which he later acknowledged as a depressed self-portrait, and the beautifully reminiscent "In My Life" both reflect the more serious and personal style of songwriting that Dylan had suddenly made possible.

George Harrison's sitar on "Norwegian Wood" – the first time the instrument was used in a pop song – and Paul McCartney's fuzz bass on "Think for Yourself" document the band's increasing awareness that the studio could be more than a pit stop between tours. Harrison called Rubber Soul "the best one we made," because "we were suddenly hearing sounds that we weren't able to hear before." And as for why the band's hearing had grown so acute, well, that was another aspect of the times. "There was a lot of experimentation on Rubber Soul," said Ringo Starr, "influenced, I think, by the substances."

4

Bob Dylan, ‘Highway 61 Revisited’

Columbia, 1965

Bruce Springsteen described the beginning of "Like a Rolling Stone," the opening song on Highway 61 Revisited, as the "snare shot that sounded like somebody'd kicked open the door to your mind." Folk singer Phil Ochs was even more rhapsodic about the LP: "It's impossibly good… How can a human mind do this?"

Recorded in a staggering six days, Highway 61 Revisited – named after the road that runs from Bob Dylan's home state of Minnesota down through the Mississippi Delta – is one of those albums that changed everything. In and of itself, "Like a Rolling Stone," rumored to be about Andy Warhol acolyte Edie Sedgwick, forever altered the landscape of popular music – its "vomitific" flow (Dylan's term), literary ambition and sheer length (6:13) shattered limitations of every kind. "Ballad of a Thin Man" delivered the definitive Sixties comment on the splintering hip-straight fault line: "Something is happening here, but you don't know what it is/Do you, Mister Jones?" If anyone questioned whether or not Dylan had truly  "gone electric," the roaring rock & roll of  "From a Buick 6" and "Tombstone Blues" – powered by guitarist Mike Bloomfield – left no doubt.

The album ends with "Desolation Row," a surrealist night journey that runs 11 minutes. Dylan evokes a Hieronymus Bosch-like season in hell that seems to foretell all the Sixties cataclysms to come. "The Titanic sails at dawn," he sings wearily. "Everybody is shouting, 'Which side are you on?'" That "Desolation Row" is an all-acoustic track – a last-minute decision on Dylan's part – is one final stroke of genius: a spellbinding new vision of folk music to close the album that, for the time being at least, destroyed folk music.

3

The Beatles, ‘Revolver’

Capitol, 1966

"I don't see too much difference between Revolver and Rubber Soul," George Harrison once said. "To me, they could be Volume One and Volume Two." Revolver extends the more adventurous aspects of its predecessor – its introspection, its nascent psychedelia, its fascination with studio artistry – into a dramatic statement of generational possibility.

The album, which was released in August 1966, made it thrillingly clear that what we now think of as "the Sixties" was fully – and irreversibly – under way.

The most innovative track on the album is John Lennon's "Tomorrow Never Knows." Attempting to distill an LSD trip into a three-minute song, Lennon borrowed lyrics from Timothy Leary's version of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and recorded his vocal to sound like "the Dalai Lama singing from the highest mountaintop." Tape loops, a backward guitar part (Paul McCartney's blistering solo on "Taxman," in fact) and a droning tamboura completed the experimental effect, and the song proved hugely influential. For his part, on "Eleanor Rigby" and "For No One," McCartney mastered a strikingly mature form of art song, and Harrison, with "Taxman," "I Want to Tell You" and "Love You To," challenged Lennon-McCartney's songwriting dominance.

Part of the album's revolutionary impulse was visual. Klaus Voormann, one of the Beatles' artist buddies from their days in Hamburg, Germany, designed a striking photo-collage cover for Revolver; it was a crucial step on the road to the even trippier, more colorful imagery of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which would come less than a year later.

Revolver signaled that in popular music, anything – any theme, any musical idea – could now be realized. And, in the case of the Beatles, would be.

2

The Beach Boys, ‘Pet Sounds’

Capitol, 1966

"Who's gonna hear this shit?" Beach Boys singer Mike Love asked the band's resident genius, Brian Wilson, in 1966, as Wilson played him the new songs he was working on. "The ears of a dog?" But Love's contempt proved oddly useful: "Ironically," Wilson observed, "Mike's barb inspired the album's title." Barking dogs – Wilson's dog Banana among them, in fact – are prominent among the found sounds on the album. The Beatles made a point of echoing them on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band – an acknowledgment that Pet Sounds was the inspiration for the Beatles' masterpiece. That gesture actually completed a circle of influence: Wilson initially conceived of Pet Sounds as an effort to top the Beatles' Rubber Soul.

With its vivid orchestration, lyrical ambition, elegant pacing and thematic coherence, Pet Sounds invented – and in some sense perfected – the idea that an album could be more than the sum of its parts. When Wilson sang, "Wouldn't it be nice if we were older?" on the magnificent opener, he wasn't just imagining a love that could evolve past high school; he was suggesting a new grown-up identity for rock & roll music itself.

Wilson essentially made Pet Sounds without the rest of the band, using them only to flesh out the vocal arrangements. (He even considered putting the album out as a solo project, and the first single, "Caroline, No," was released under his own name.) Its luxurious sound conveys a heartbreaking wistfulness, and the deeply personal songs, which Wilson co-wrote primarily with lyricist Tony Asher, bid farewell to the innocent world of the Beach Boys' fun-in-the-sun hits. Unfortunately, Capitol Records proved no more enamored of Pet Sounds than had Love; the label considered not releasing it at all. Not yet vindicated by history, Wilson withdrew further into his inner world. "At the last meeting I attended concerning Pet Sounds," Wilson wrote about his dealings with the label, "I showed up holding a tape player and eight prerecorded, looped responses, including 'No comment,' 'Can you repeat that?' 'No' and 'Yes.' Refusing to utter a word, I played the various tapes when appropriate."

1

The Beatles, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’

Capitol, 1967

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most important rock & roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time. From the title song’s regal blasts of brass and fuzz guitar to the orchestral seizure and long, dying piano chord at the end of “A Day in the Life,” the 13 tracks on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band are the pinnacle of the Beatles’ eight years as recording artists. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were never more fearless and unified in their pursuit of magic and transcendence.

Issued in Britain on June 1st, 1967, and a day later in America, Sgt. Pepper is also rock’s ultimate declaration of change. For the Beatles, it was a decisive goodbye to matching suits, world tours and assembly-line record-making. “We were fed up with being Beatles,” McCartney said decades later, in Many Years From Now, Barry Miles’ McCartney biography. “We were not boys, we were men… artists rather than performers.

At the same time, Sgt. Pepper formally ushered in an unforgettable season of hope, upheaval and achievement: the late 1960s and, in particular, 1967’s Summer of Love. In its iridescent instrumentation, lyric fantasias and eye-popping packaging, Sgt. Pepper defined the opulent revolutionary optimism of psychedelia and instantly spread the gospel of love, acid, Eastern spirituality and electric guitars around the globe. No other pop record of that era, or since, has had such an immediate, titanic impact. This music documents the world’s biggest rock band at the very height of its influence and ambition.

“It was a peak,” Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1970, describing both the album and his collaborative relationship with McCartney. “Paul and I were definitely working together,” Lennon said, and Sgt. Pepper is rich with proof: McCartney’s burst of hot piano and school-days memoir (“Woke up, fell out of bed…”) in Lennon’s “A Day in the Life,” a reverie on mortality and infinity; Lennon’s impish rejoinder to McCartney’s chorus in “Getting Better” (“It can’t get no worse”).

Sgt. Pepper was our grandest endeavor,” Starr said, looking back, in the band’s 2000 autobiography, The Beatles Anthology. “The greatest thing about the band was that whoever had the best idea – it didn’t matter who – that was the one we’d use.” It was Neil Aspinall, the Beatles’ longtime assistant, who suggested they reprise the title track, just before the finale of “A Day in the Life,” to complete Sgt. Pepper‘s theatrical conceit: an imaginary concert by a fictional band, played by the Beatles.

The first notes went to tape on December 6th, 1966: two takes of McCartney’s music-hall confection “When I’m Sixty-Four.” (Lennon’s lysergic reflection on his Liverpool childhood, “Strawberry Fields Forever,” was started two weeks earlier but issued in February 1967 as a stand-alone single.) But Sgt. Pepper‘s real birthday is August 29th, 1966, when the Beatles played their last live concert, in San Francisco. Until then, they had made history in the studio between punishing tours. Off the road for good, the Beatles were free to be a band away from the hysteria of Beatlemania.

McCartney went a step further. On a plane to London in November ’66, as he returned from a vacation in Kenya, he came up with the idea of an album by the Beatles in disguise, an alter-ego group that he subsequently dubbed Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. “We’d pretend to be someone else,” McCartney explained in Anthology. “It liberated you – you could do anything when you got to the mic or on your guitar, because it wasn’t you.”

Only two songs on the final LP, both McCartney’s, had anything to do with the Pepper characters: the title track and Starr’s jaunty vocal showcase, “With a Little Help From My Friends,” introduced as a number by Sgt. Pepper‘s star crooner, Billy Shears. “Every other song could have been on any other album,” Lennon insisted later. Yet it is hard to imagine a more perfect setting for the Victorian jollity of Lennon’s “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” (inspired by an 1843 circus poster) or the sumptuous melancholy of McCartney’s “Fixing a Hole,” with its blend of antique shadows (a harpsichord played by the Beatles’ producer, George Martin) and modern sunshine (double-tracked lead guitar executed with ringing precision by Harrison). The Pepper premise was a license to thrill.

It also underscored the real-life cohesion of the music and the group that made it. Of the 700 hours the Beatles spent making Sgt. Pepper from the end of 1966 until April 1967, the group needed only three days’ worth to complete Lennon’s lavish daydream “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” “A Day in the Life,” the most complex song on the album, was done in just five days. (The oceanic piano chord was three pianos hit simultaneously by 10 hands belonging to Lennon, McCartney, Starr, Martin and Beatles roadie Mal Evans.) No other Beatles appear with Harrison on his sitar-perfumed sermon on materialism and fidelity, “Within You Without You,” but the band wisely placed the track at the halfway point of the original vinyl LP, at the beginning of Side Two: a vital meditation break in the middle of the jubilant indulgence.

The Beatles’ exploitation of multitracking transformed the very act of studio recording (the orchestral overdubs on “A Day in the Life” marked the debut of eight-track recording in Britain: two four-track machines used in sync). And Sgt. Pepper‘s visual extravagance officially elevated the album cover to a work of art. Michael Cooper’s photo of the Beat­les in satin marching-band outfits, in front of a cardboard-cutout audience of historical figures, created by artist Peter Blake, is the most enduring image of the psychedelic era. Sgt. Pepper was also the first rock album to incorporate complete lyrics to the songs in its design.

Yet Sgt. Pepper is the Number One album of the RS 500 not just because of its firsts – it is simply the best of everything the Beatles ever did as musicians, pioneers and pop stars, all in one place. A 1967 British print ad for the album declared, “Remember, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Is the Beatles.” As McCartney put it, the album was “just us doing a good show.”

The show goes on forever.

Voters: Bill Adler (Biographer, Run-DMC), Lou Adler (Producer), Vince Aletti (Writer), Art Alexakis (Everclear), Pelle Almqvist (The Hives), Billy Altman (Writer), Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam), Roger Ames (Former chairman and CEO, Warner Music Group), Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day), Nicholaus Arson (The Hives), Dick Asher (Former CEO, Polygram Records), James Austin (Former A&R, Rhino Records), Michael Azerrad (Writer), Irving Azoff (Executive chairman, Live Nation), Martin Bandier (Chairman and CEO, Sony/ATV), Devendra Banhart, Peter Barakan (Radio host), Johnny Barbis (Chairman, Rocket Music), Ken Barnes (Writer), Kevin Barnes (Of Montreal), Frank Barsalona (Former consultant, William Morris Agency), Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend), David Bauder (Writer), Beck, Jules Belkin (Former president, Belkin Productions),Andy Bell (Erasure), Bill Belmont (Former VP, international operations, Fantasy Records), Bill Bentley (Director, A&R, Vanguard Records), Steve Berkowitz (Senior VP, A&R,  Legacy Recordings), James Bernard (Co-founder, The Source and XXL magazines), Cathy Bernardy Jones (Former editor, Goldmine magazine), Guy Berryman (Coldplay), Jim Bessman (Writer), Les Bider (Former chairman and CEO, Warner/Chappell Music), Scott Billington (VP, A&R, Rounder Records), Mark Binelli (Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Rodney Bingenheimer (Radio personality), David Bither (Senior VP, Nonesuch Records), Hal Blaine (Drummer), Jerry Blavat (Radio and TV personality), Mary J. Blige, Nathan Brackett (Deputy managing editor, Rolling Stone), Laurent Brancowitz (Phoenix), Harriett Brand (Former senior VP, Universal Music Group), Jon Bream (Writer), Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse), Harold Bronson (Co-founder, Rhino Records), David Browne (Contributing editor,  Rolling Stone), Duncan Browne (COO, Newbury Comics), Jackson Browne, Jonny Buckland (Coldplay), Bebe Buell, Solomon Burke (1940-2010), Cliff Burnstein (Co-founder, Q Prime), James Burton (Guitarist), Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath), Jerry Butler (R&B singer), Joe Butler (The Lovin’ Spoonful), Tom Calderone (President, VH1), Mike Carabello (Santana), Jon Caramanica (Pop critic, The New York Times), Patrick Carney (The Black Keys), Rosemary Carroll (Entertainment lawyer), Will Champion (Coldplay), Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Marshall Chess (Producer), Deborah Chessler (Songwriter), Robert Christgau (Writer), Lauren Christy (Producer), Jarvis Cocker (Pulp), Mitchell Cohen (VP, A&R, Verve Records), Chris Connelly (Correspondent, ESPN), Tom Constanten (Pianist-composer), Tré Cool (Green Day), Gerard Cosloy (Co-owner, Matador Records), Tommy Couch (Sr.  President, Malaco Music Group), Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips), Bill Crandall (Head of content, Rolling Stone Online), Cameron Crowe (Writer-director), Will Dana (Managing editor, Rolling Stone) Britt Daniel (Spoon), Clive Davis (Chief creative officer,  Sony Music Worldwide), Anthony DeCurtis )Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Ron Delsener  (Chairman, Live Nation – New York), John Densmore (The Doors), Don DeVito (Producer (1939-2011)), Rob Dickins (Founder, Instant Karma Records), Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), Dion DiMucci, Dr. John, Jon Dolan (Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Antoine “Fats” Domino, Jancee Dunn (Writer), The Edge (U2), Ben Edmonds (Writer), Gavin Edwards (Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Graham Edwards (Songwriter and producer), Jenny Eliscu (Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Missy Elliott, Michael Endelman (Former senior editor, Rolling Stone), Thomas Erdelyi (Ramones), Melissa Etheridge, Suzan Evans (Former executive director, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), Phil Everly (Everly Brothers), Bob Ezrin (Producer), Art Fein (Author, TV talk-show host), Danny Fields (Writer, former Stooges and Ramones manager), Jason Fine (Editor at large, Rolling Stone), Jim Fishel (Producer), Bill Flanagan (Editorial director, VH1), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Chet Flippo (Editorial director, Country Music Television), Jason Flom (President, Lava Records), Caleb Followill (Kings of Leon), Jared Followill (Kings of Leon), Matthew Followill (Kings of Leon), Nathan Followill (Kings of Leon), Ben Fong-Torres (Writer, broadcaster), Richard Foos Founder, (Shout! Factory), Pete Frame (Rock genealogist), Chris Frantz (Talking Heads), Nicole Frehsée (Former assistant editor, Rolling Stone), David Fricke (Senior writer, Rolling Stone), John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield), Elysa Gardner (Writer), Art Garfunkel, Rob Garza(Thievery Corporation), David Geffen (Co-founder, DreamWorks), Gregg Geller (Producer), Gary Gersh (Founder, Strummer Recordings), Andy Gershon (Executive VP, Epic Records), Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Charlie Gillett (Radio broadcaster, BBC (1942- 2010)), Mikal Gilmore (Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Daniel Glass (Founder, Glassnote Records), Gerry Goffin (Songwriter, producer), Jeff Gold (Owner, recordmecca.com), Michael Goldberg (Editor in chief, neumu.net), Gary Graff (Writer), Andy Greene (Associate editor,  Rolling Stone Online), Ellie Greenwich (Songwriter (1940-2009)), Peter Guralnick (Writer), Brett Gurewitz (Founder, Epitaph Records), Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Albert Hammond Jr. (The Strokes), Davey Havok (AFI), Jim Henke (VP of exhibitions and curatorial affairs,  Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), Will Hermes (Senior critic, Rolling Stone), Raoul Hernandez (Music editor/senior editor, Austin Chronicle), James Hetfield (Metallica), Brian Hiatt (Senior writer, Rolling Stone), Robert Hilburn (Former pop-music critic, Los Angeles Times), Michael Hill (Writer, TV-music consultant), Chris Hillman (The Byrds), David Hinckley (TV critic, New York Daily News), Christian Hoard (Senior editor, Rolling Stone), Susanna Hoffs (The Bangles), Mark Hoppus (Blink-182), Bruce Hornsby, Robert Hull (Former executive producer, Time-Life Music), James Hunter (Writer), Scott Ian (Anthrax), Don Ienner (Former chairman and CEO, Sony Music0 U.S.), Bruce Iglauer (President, Alligator Records), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Bob Jamieson (Former chairman, RCA Music Group), Chris Jasper (Artist, president, Gold City Music), Nick Jonas (Jonas Brothers), Jeff Jones (CEO, Apple Corps), Craig Kallman (Chairman and CEO, Atlantic Records), John David Kalodner (Former A&R executive, Geffen Records), Tony Kanal (No Doubt), Peter Katsis (Manager-partner, Prospect Park), Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane), Lenny Kaye (Guitarist), Mark Kemp (Writer), Kid Cudi (Rapper), Carole King, Marc Kirkeby (Music archivist, writer), Howie Klein (Former president, 415 and Reprise Records), Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend), Greg Kot (Writer), Howard Kramer (Director of curatorial affairs, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), Bob Krasnow (Producer), Lenny Kravitz, Damian Kulash (OK Go), Miranda Lambert, Andrew Lauder (Music executive), David Leaf (TV writer, producer), Brenda Lee, David Lefkowitz (Composer), Adam Levine (Maroon 5), Arthur Levy (Writer), Joe Levy (Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Alan Light (Writer), Lil Wayne, Amy Linden (Writer), Kurt Loder (Writer), Greg Loescher (Former editor and publisher, Goldmine magazine), Roy Lott (Former president, Virgin Records), Leigh Lust (Former VP of A&R, Atlantic Records), Stan Lynch (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Melissa Maerz (Former senior editor, Rolling Stone), Stephen Malkmus, Shirley Manson (Garbage), Ray Manzarek (The Doors), Thomas Mars (Phoenix), Chris Martin (Coldplay), Mac McCaughan (Co-founder, Merge Records), Joe McEwen (VP, A&R, Concord Music Group), Paul McGuinness (Manager, U2), Christine McVie (Fleetwood Mac), Brad Mehldau (Jazz pianist), Colin Meloy (The Decemberists), Peter Mensch (Co-owner, Q Prime), M.I.A., Milo Miles (Critic, NPR commentator), Kirk Miller (Former associate editor, Rolling Stone), David Mills (TV writer, The Wire(1952-2010)), Martin Mills (Founder, Beggars Banquet Records), Willie Mitchell (Musician-producer  (1928-2010)), Moby, Joseph Modeliste (The Meters), Tom Moon (Writer), Tom Morello (The Nightwatchman), Fabrizio Moretti (The Strokes), Bruce Morrow (Radio personality), Steve Morse (Writer), Alan Moulder (Producer-engineer), Jason Mraz, Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction), Tom Nawrocki (Former assistant managing editor, Rolling Stone), Ed Needham (Former managing editor, Rolling Stone), Ashley Newton (Executive VP, A&R, RCA Records), Claude Nobs (Founder-director, the Montreaux Jazz Festival), Yoko Ono, Mo Ostin (Chairman emeritus, Warner Brothers Records), Andy Paley (Musician-producer), John Parrish (Musician-producer), George Pelecanos (Writer), Michael Penn, Claudia Perry (Writer), Michelle Phillips (The Mamas and the Papas), Tony Pipitone (President, Warner Special Projects), Steve Pond (Writer), George Porter Jr. (The Meters), Robert Pruter (R&B editor, Goldmine magazine), Parke Puterbaugh (Writer), Questlove (The Roots), Steve Ralbovsky (Senior VP, A&R, RCA Records), Johnny Ramone (Ramones (1948-2004)), Marky Ramone (Ramones), Sylvia Rhone (Former chairman and CEO, Elektra Records), Jonathan Ringen (Assistant managing editor, Rolling Stone), Cory Robbins (President, Robbins Entertainment), Ira Robbins (Editorial director, MJI Programming, Premiere Radio Network), Robbie Robertson (The Band), Chris Robinson (The Black Crowes), Cynthia Robinson (Sly and the Family Stone), Bob Rock (Producer), Jody Rosen (Senior critic, Rolling Stone), Rick Rubin (Producer, co-founder,  Def Jam), Paul Samwell-Smith (Producer; the Yardbirds), Bob Santelli (Executive director, the Grammy Museum), Austin Scaggs (Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Timothy B. Schmit (Eagles), Fred Schneider (The B-52’s), Jordan Schur (President, Suretone Records), Andy Schwartz (Writer), Bud Scoppa (Writer), Gene Sculatti (Writer), John Sebastian (The Lovin’ Spoonful), Pete Seeger, Joel Selvin (Music critic, San Francisco Chronicle), Matt Serletic (Producer), Evan Serpick (Former associate editor, Rolling Stone), Paul Shaffer (Musical director, Late Show With David Letterman), Ron Shapiro (Co-founder, Plan A Media), Rob Sheffield (Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park), Tom Silverman (Founder and CEO, Tommy Boy Records), Barbara Skydel (Senior VP, William  Morris Agency (1940-2010)), Larry Sloven (Co-owner, executive producer, HighTone Records), Joe Smith (Chairman, Unison Productions), Britney Spears, Scott Spencer (Novelist), Scott Spock (Producer), Freddie Stewart (Sly and the Family Stone), Gary Stewart (Singer-songwriter (1945-2003)), Brian Stoltz (Funky Meters, the Neville Brothers, Bob Dylan), Neil Strauss (Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Keith Strickland (The B-52’s), Patrick Stump (Fall Out Boy), John Sykes (President, Clear Channel Entertainment Enterprises), Jeff Tamarkin (Writer), Corey Taylor (Slipknot), Al Teller (Former head, CBS, Columbia and RCA Records), Bruce Thomas (Elvis Costello and the Attractions), Touré (Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Allen Toussaint (Producer-songwriter), Roy Trakin (Senior editor, Hits magazine), Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Nick Valensi (The Strokes), Hilton Valentine (The Animals), Andrew VanWyngarden (MGMT), Steven Van Zandt, Tom Vickers (A&R consultant), Butch Vig (Garbage, producer), Phil Walden (Former president,  Velocette Records (1940-2006)), Wale (Rapper), Barry Walters (Writer), Bill Ward (Black Sabbath), Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance), Harry Weinger (VP, A&R, Universal Music Enterprises), Eric Weisbard (Writer), Barry Weiss (CEO, Universal Republic, Island Def Jam Records), Hy Weiss (Founder, Old Town Records (1923-2007)), Steve Weitzman (President, SW Productions), Jann S. Wenner (Editor and publisher, Rolling Stone), Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy), Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads), Joel Whitbur (President, Record Research), David Whitehead (Owner, Maine Road Management), David Wild (Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Will.i.am, Lucinda Williams, Hal Willner (Music producer), Muff Winwood (Former president, Sony U.K. A&R), Douglas Wolk (Writer), Richard Wright (Pink Floyd (1943-2008)), Robert Wright, Howard Wuelfing (Howlin’ Wuelf Media), Adam Yauch (Beastie Boys)

Contributors: Pat Blashill, Nathan Brackett, David Browne, Anthony DeCurtis, Matt Diehl, Chuck Eddy, Ben Edmonds, Gavin Edwards, Jenny Eliscu, David Fricke, Elysa Gardner, Holly George-Warren, Andy Greene, Will Hermes, Mark Kemp, Greg Kot, Joe Levy, David McGee, Chris Molaphy, Tom Moon,&nb