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Gallery: The Best Break-Out Bands on Rolling Stone’s Cover

The Band had been around in one form or another for the better part of a decade when they first appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in August of 1968. They had spent most of that time backing Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan, inspiring the group to dub themselves The Band. Their debut LP Music From Big Pink had just arrived on shelves when this story hit, and from that point on they were no longer anonymous — even if they're facing away from the photographer in this photo.

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This article appears in the August 24, 1968 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive

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Nirvana (1992)

Photographer Mark Seliger remembers the photo session for this Nirvana cover very well. "I said to Kurt, 'I think that's a great shirt,'" he recalls. "'I think that's great. That's a great shirt! – but let's shoot a couple, with and without it.' Kurt said, 'No, I'm not going to take my shirt off.'"

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This article appears in the April 16, 1992 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.

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Green Day (1995)

When Green Day cut their 1994 LP Dookie they had an inkling it would do well, but they never could have dreamed it would become one of the biggest albums of the entire decade. The San Francisco trio had been recording and touring for five years when they signed to Reprise in late 1993. They teamed the band up with producer Rob Cavallo, who helped the group craft their pop punk masterpiece. Videos for "Longview," "Welcome To Paradise" and "Basket Case" were in constant rotation on MTV, bringing Dookie's sales higher and higher with each airing. It would be a decade before the group matched its success.

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This article appears in the January 26, 1995 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.

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Britney Spears (1999)

This cover may not seem shocking now, but when it came out in 1999 Britney Spears was just 17 – and hadn't even dipped her toes into a scandal. Even back then, she knew exactly what she was doing. Photographer David LaChapelle vividly recalls the late night shoot when Britney stripped down to her underwear until her shocked manager walked into the room. He demanded to know what was going on. "She went, 'Yeah, I don't feel comfortable,'" says the photographer. "At first I felt betrayed. But as soon as he walked out, Britney said 'Lock the door' and unbuttoned her shirt wide open."

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This article appears in the April 15, 1999 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.

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Eminem (1999)

The issue right after our famous Britney Spears cover we had another new artist on the cover: Eminem. At the time we had no idea that the two of them would become two of the biggest stars of the next decade. In the piece, Em's mentor Dr. Dre spoke about his discovery. "If he remains the same person that walked into the studio with me that first day, he will be fucking larger than Michael Jackson," said Dre. "There are a lot of ifs and buts, but my man, he's dope and very humble."

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This article appears in the April 29, 1999 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.

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Kanye West (2006)

Long before he grabbed the mic from Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West infuriated America by posing as Jesus Christ on the cover of Rolling Stone. Even back then, he was sick of people mocking his cockiness. "In America, they want you to accomplish these great feats, to pull off these David Copperfield-type stunts," West said. "But let someone ask you about what you're doing, and if you turn around and say, 'It's great,' then people are like, 'What's wrong with you?' You want me to be great, but you don't ever want me to say I'm great?"

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This article appears in the February 9, 2006 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.

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Lady Gaga (2009)

When Rolling Stone put Lady Gaga on the cover in the summer of 2009 she was a big star, but not quite the global icon that she is today. As she told writer Brian Hiatt, she had huge plans. "I feel like I have so much to do," she said. "The whole world sees the number-one records and the rise in sales and recognition, but my true legacy will be the test of time, and whether I can sustain a space in pop culture and really make stuff that will have a genuine impact."

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This article appears in the June 11, 2009 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.

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