Rock and Roll Hall of Fame adds exhibit celebrating 50 years of Rolling Stone magazine

March 15, 2017

by Carla Hay

Rolling Stone Fifty Years

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is launching the exhibit Rolling Stone / 50 Years, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of Rolling Stone magazine. The exhibit opens May 5, 2017, and closes in November 2017.

In 1967, Rolling Stone magazine was co-founded in San Francisco by Jann Wenner (who remains the magazine’s editor-in-chief) to report on rock music and the counterculture movement. In 1977, Rolling Stone moved its headquarters to New York City. Over the years, Rolling Stone’s coverage has expanded to include many other genres of music and other parts of the entertainment industry, as well as politics. Wenner has been open about being politically liberal, and the magazine’s editorial slant reflects those beliefs, such as endorsing left-leaning politicians, usually from the Democratic Party. Wenner is a board member on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Over the years, Rolling Stone magazine has nurtured the talents of several well-known writers and photographers, including Cameron Crowe (who later won a screenwriting Oscar for his 2000 movie “Almost Famous,”  which was based on his experiences writing for Rolling Stone in the 1970s), Hunter S. Thompson, Lester Bangs, P.J. O’Rourke, Matt Taibbi, Annie Liebowitz, Baron Wolman and Mark Seliger.

Here is more information about the exhibit from a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame press release:

Visitors will explore three floors highlighting the magazine’s unique ability to give voice to the times through the unique lenses of its brilliant writers, critics, visual artists and photographers.

The exhibit opens in conjunction with the release of the book 50 Years of Rolling Stone (Abrams; May 16, 2017), a special book to coincide with the magazine’s 50th anniversary. The book offers a decade-by-decade exploration of the magazine from the 1960s to the present day and includes an introduction by Rolling Stone co-founder and publisher Jann S. Wenner. The book will be available for purchase in the Rock Hall store.

Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone’s first issue in 1967 featured John Lennon on the cover. (Photo courtesy of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame/Carl Harp)

In 1967, the year Rolling Stone magazine debuted, was a pivotal year in rock and roll. It saw major releases from The Beatles, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd, Cream, the Byrds, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Velvet Underground, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and so many others. It was also famous for its “Summer of Love” in San Francisco, the same city where Rolling Stone began publication. Since then, Rolling Stone has been at the epicenter of popular culture and politics. Many of its writers became key voices (and critics) of their generation

From the “Summer of Love” and Woodstock to Coachella, and “Fear and Loathing” to the financial crisis, the exhibit highlights rarely heard stories, original manuscripts, music reviews and audio interviews that spotlight the cast and talented crew—now numbering in the hundreds—of artists, writers, and more who shared a special partnership with the magazine. Visitors can also see new interview footage with artists including Lenny Kravitz, Mick Jagger, Taylor Swift, and others, specially shot for the exhibit.

Visitors can also check out letters written to the magazine by celebrities, including Mick Jagger, Hunter Thompson, Paul McCartney, and even Charles Manson. There is also a special section chronicling the magazine’s trademark “Rolling Stone Interview—”the gold standard for in-depth profiles of significant artists and newsmakers—highlights include historic interviews with David Bowie, John Lennon, Madonna, President Barack Obama, Lin-Manuel Miranda and others.

Highlights of iconic cover images, including John and Yoko, Miley Cyrus, Janis Joplin and Janet Jackson will be on display for visitors to debate their favorite. The magazine’s wide-ranging purview included covers reaching back to rock and roll pioneers such as Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry, along with jazz musicians like Miles Davis and Sun Ra. Original artwork and photographs featuring artists like Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Amy Winehouse, Prince, Nirvana, B.B. King, Adele, Tupac Shakur and others will also be on display.

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