Our Rolling Stone Music Now podcast recently celebrated 50 years of Rolling Stone with a look back at some of the stories behind the magazine’s greatest photographs. Listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Spotify, or check it out below.
Here, a look at some of the episode’s highlights:
Original Rolling Stone photographer Baron Wolman felt a deep responsibility to represent artists properly.
“In the early days of Rolling Stone,” he says, “there was no MTV, there was no Internet. There was no way to really see what the musicians that you cared about looked like other than in the pages of Rolling Stone. And the challenge then was to make individual pictures that told a much larger story than just having been there at that moment.”
Wolman lived a couple blocks away from Janis Joplin, and photographed her often.
“She was so many things,” he says. “She was depressive and she was exciting and she was happy and she was sad. She had a really rough life growing up and behind some of the sadness there was a kid. And she had a fabulous smile. So I always worked really hard to get her to smile.”
Shooting Amy Winehouse’s 2007 Rolling Stone cover was harrowing.
When photographer Max Vadukul arrived for the shoot in Miami, Winehouse was ebullient: She had just gotten married (to Blake Fielder-Civil) minutes before. “Can you do my wedding pictures for me?” she asked, and Vadukul complied. But as the day went on, Winehouse’s mood turned dark, especially after she disappeared into a bathroom for a while. “She said, ‘What am I doing here?’ I just got married,” Vadukul recalls. She ended up leaving early – and later, Vadukul discovered that some of his pictures showed white powder under her noise. “It was depressing,” says Rolling Stone creative director Jodi Peckman, “and a little scary.”
Photographer Mark Seliger came to regret telling Kurt Cobain not to wear t-shirts with writing on them to Nirvana’s 1992 cover shoot.
“It’s like telling a teenager not to do something,” Seliger says. “The first day Kurt was wearing a shirt with a weird little animated duck on it that said, ‘Jerry Garcia still sucks.’ And then the following day, Kurt was wearing his signature sweater and big dark sunglasses – and then he opened up the sweater and it said, ‘corporate magazines still suck.’ And I was kind of laughing and I said, ‘Would you mind maybe not wearing that shirt?’ And he said, ‘Nope.’ And I said, ‘What about the sunglasses off?’ And he said sure. And every time he took his sunglasses off he crossed his eyes.”
Seliger got all the time he needed with Snoop Dogg when he shot the rapper with Dr. Dre in 1993.
“His publicist says, Oh, he’s on house arrest. He’ll be there all night.”
Tom Petty had some advice on photographing George Harrison.
“If you bring four or five ukeleles,” Petty told Seliger in 1991, “you’ll find a very happy man.”