Over two nights at New York’s Madison Square Garden last month, rock history was made again and again: Bono, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen and more legends united on one stage to celebrate the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th anniversary with a pair of concerts featuring some of the biggest talents of the past six decades. Metallica rocked with Lou Reed. Stevie Wonder sang with Smokey Robinson. The Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie and Will.i.am joined U2 and Jagger for “Gimme Shelter.” Rolling Stone has the story behind these epic concerts, and an unprecedented look behind the scenes of one of the greatest rock events ever in our new issue, on stands today.
David Fricke and Brian Hiatt trace the concerts’ journey from the first entreaties to artists (Led Zeppelin declined to reunite again; David Bowie couldn’t make it) to convincing HBO to air the shows as a prime-time special on November 29th to the incredible rehearsals, where Springsteen almost rocked his voice away trading “Fortunate Son” verses with John Fogerty. The issue also features an annotated set list for every tune performed by the two epic lineups: Crosby, Stills and Nash, Paul Simon, Simon and Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on night one (see live photos); Aretha Franklin, Jeff Beck, Metallica and U2 on night two (see live photos). Both shows opened with Jerry Lee Lewis and featured special team-ups that helped demonstrate the evolution of rock as a cultural force. As Jann S. Wenner — the editor and publisher of Rolling Stone and the driving force behind the concerts — writes in his editors’ notes, “To me, rock & roll has always been about soul and community. These shows had to tell a story, from the heart.”
In a series of special essays in our new issue, artists reflect on their Hall of Fame heroes: Alicia Keys reveals how Stevie Wonder taught her to break musical rules. Wayne Coyne recalls his first Black Sabbath concert. Brandon Flowers speaks about the moment he first heard “Born to Run.” Plus, there’s a guided tour of the Rock Hall and an explanation of exactly how an artists gets included into the Cleveland institution.
We’ll be revealing the Rock Hall’s most memorable moments — from Clapton reuniting Cream to Mike Love’s crazy speech — in videos and photos, as well as Mark Seliger’s exclusive backstage photos. Check out all of our Essential Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Coverage for photos, our full coverage of the anniversary concerts and much more.
Also in this issue: Adam Lambert on his influences, in the studio with My Chemical Romance, the story behind Pearl Jam’s 41-song Philly blowout and our review of Them Crooked Vultures’ anticipated debut.