By the middle of 1967, rock was in full bloom, but the only place to read about the music and the people who made it was in teen magazines like Tiger Beat and 16 and in occasional pieces in Life, Look and the other mainstream glossies. Underground newspapers covered rock with an amateur’s enthusiasm and a few jazz critics occasionally mentioned that something interesting was going on among the kids, but rock was clearly an afterthought. In 1966, Swarthmore College undergrad Paul Williams began Crawdaddy, a fanzine that printed thoughtful criticism of rock albums. It was a step in the right direction.
In the autumn of 1967, 21-year-old Berkley dropout Jann Wenner pulled all the pieces together in a bi-weekly publication he called Rolling Stone. Wenner had covered Monterey Pop Festival for the left-wing Ramparts and recognized a new counterculture emerging. He knew it because he was part of it. He knew that the music was not a sideshow to new ways of thinking about politics, sex, drugs, and peace—music was the connective tissues. He understood that not everyone wanted to ask Jerry Garcia and Sly Stone and Pete Townshend, “What kind of girls do you go for?” With the help of the great jazz critic and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ralph J. Gleason, Wenner launched the publication he named after songs by Muddy Waters and Bob Dylan and after “the greatest rock & roll band in the world.”
From the start, Rolling Stone had music at its center but it was never just a music magazine. Politics, culture and serious reporting were always part of Rolling Stone. The shape of the magazine has changed many times in 50 years, but its scope and its standards have been constant. The currents Wenner recognized in 1967 still run strong today.
Rolling Stone Collection
The Rolling Stone Collection span the years 1956 to 1993, with the bulk of the records dating between 1966 and 1989. The collection is organized into four series: artist files; artist, reference and record company files; copy and research files; and editorial files. The two series of artist files consist of newspaper and magazine clippings on artists, their performances, or related subjects. While similar, these two series were acquired as distinct sets of files. The copy and research files comprise the majority of the materials in the collection. These files include print copy, draft manuscripts, newspaper and magazine clippings, research notes, interview transcripts, and audio interviews. The editorial files series contains material relating to a selection of Rolling Stone writers, as well as memos and other paperwork produced by various editors. Please note that the collection does not contain materials from the earliest days of the magazine; any file dated earlier than 1974 likely contains newspaper clippings or publicity materials that were used in the writing of an article for the magazine.
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