Rolling Stone is a fortnightly magazine, established in 1967. It mainly focuses on Pop Music, but also discusses other popular culture media such as film, TV and the New Media. In the 1970s famous author Hunter S. Thompson published Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in pre-publication and also wrote a lot of gonzo journalistic articles about politics. From the 1980s on the magazine shifted her format to a more general "entertainment" magazine. Now, "Rolling Stone" has risen to become the leading magazine on Pop Music and Rock, drawing their readers' attention to many artists of differing genres over the years. Inevitably they have been criticized too for deriding and ignoring some musicians who were Vindicated by History decades later, mostly in the Heavy Metal genre such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, but also Progressive Rock bands such as Pink Floyd and Captain Beefheart. It also took a while before they started spending serious attention to Punk Rock and Hip-Hop.
Over the decades, like many other magazines, "Rolling Stone" was also been accused of Magazine Decay. It began in 1967 as a rock version of older genre-specific music magazines such as Down Beat and Sing Out, with some pretensions toward being a hippie version of Newsweek. note By the mid-to-late 1970s it became a corporate rock fanzine (they were notoriously slow to pick up on Punk Rock), and by the 1980s it was pretty much People Magazine for pretentious folks.The mid-1980s success of Spin forced Rolling Stone back into a music-heavy format, which it followed for the rest of the century.
The rise of the internet has given them strong competition in the music coverage arena, forcing them to look for another hook...which they found in left-wing political reporting. They have often exceeded "legitimate" news sources in scope, with Matt Taibbi and Michael Hastings in particular becoming significant names in journalism. For example, a 2010 article by journalist Michael Hastings uncovered comments made by general Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of the International Security Assistance Force and the US Forces in Afghanistan, criticizing US Vice President Joe Biden and other members of the Obama administration. McChrystal resigned shortly after these statements were made public. However, these reports too have been largely derided and criticized, not least for the 2013 cover glorifying one of the Boston Marathon bombers, the article about University of Virginia's "Rape on Campus", and Sean Penn's interview with drug kingpin "El Chapo" Guzman, while the latter was still on the run from Mexican authorities.
For better or worse, Rolling Stone has become a largely divisive source of media. Some still view them as the definitive source of music coverage due to their Long Runner status, while others continue to see them as unreliable and biased.
This magazine provides examples of the following tropes:
- Contemptible Cover:
- An iconic cover from January 1981, shot by Annie Leibovitz, featured Yoko Ono being embraced and kissed by a nude John Lennon.
- Another iconic cover was the September 1993 issue featuring Janet Jackson nude, with her then-husband covering her breasts while standing behind her.
- Then there's this seemingly innocuous cover◊ of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston bomber. Many news outlets reported outrage at the supposed glamorization of this man by portraying him in a manner similar to a regular rockstar. They had also done this with Charles Manson decades earlier.
- Face on the Cover: A regular feature are musicians or other celebrities shown in close-up or shown up until their torso or legs on the cover. The magazine hardly shows anything else. Since the magazine prominently features mainstream artists as cover stories rather than indie acts or musicians who don't perform pop/rock, many influential artists such as Fishbone and Bad Brains have been outright snubbed by the magazine.
- Fanservice Cover: Most people featured on the cover are shown in a cool, badass, sexy or otherwise glamorous pose. Two famous examples are Jim Morrison (The Doors) featured with his shirt off, which increased his reputation as a sex symbol and Janet Jackson nude, with her then-husband covering her breasts while standing behind her.
- Gonzo Journalism: Hunter S. Thompson invented this style in Rolling Stone, being one of the main reasons why the magazine lasted long enough to become an institution instead of folding early like many other such mags.
- Long List: Their regularly returning 500 Best Albums Of All Time List.
- Meaningful Name: The name of the magazine alludes to The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan's song "Like A Rolling Stone" from Highway 61 Revisited and Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy", which as the line "I'm a rolling stone".
- Nostalgia Filter: The article: "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time." Written in 2004, it included only 3 songs from the 2000s and a truly massive number from the 1960s and early '70s, roughly coinciding with the rise of the magazine itself. Probably 400 or so of those songs (and their artists) were regularly panned by the magazine when they were the Top 40 of the day. This is to say nothing of the fact that only a small fraction of the songs are from before the 60's.
- The list was updated in 2010 with an additional twenty-six songs, twenty-five of which were released in the 2000s (one of which, Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," managed to crack the top 100...at #100). Their albums list was also updated accordingly (with two of the added albums being released in the 2010s).
- Print Long-Runners: In print since 1967.
- The Power of Rock: "Rolling Stone" mostly writes about rock music, but also devotes time to other kinds of popular music and actual media events. As the founder Jann Wenner put it:Rolling Stone is not just about the music, but about the things and attitudes that music embraces.
Learned to get up when I fallCan even climb Rolling Stone walls
- "The Cover of the Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook is a 1973 satire of the music industry.
- George Harrison's "This Guitar" (1975)
And make sure that he's hungry, make sure he's alone,
- Neil Young's "Crime in the City" (1989)
And get me a cheeseburger, and a new Rolling Stone.
- Almost Famous by Cameron Crowe is a semi-autobiographical story about a 15 year old boy who aspires to become a rock journalist for Rolling Stone.
- Gen13 vol. #1 is Packaged as Other Medium. It shipped with 13 different covers; one of them a parody of "Rolling Stone".
- Family Matters: During every episode's opening credits the grandmother was shown reading a copy of Rolling Stone, making her a Cool Old Lady.
- The cover of School of Rock is done in the same style as Rolling Stone.