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Corporate Magazines Still Suck
November 9, 2007 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Happy 40th Birthday Rolling Stone. On this day in 1967, the first issue of Rolling Stone Magazine was published, and it came with a roach clip. It was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J. Gleason It embraced and reported on the hippy counterculture during the late 1960s and 1970s, and its rise to fame was synchronous with such bands and artists as the Grateful Dead, Beatles, Doors, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. It is the magazine that trashed Eric Clapton, broke up Cream and ripped every album Led Zeppelin ever made!"
posted by psmealey (53 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Well, to be fair, Zeppelin never did make it big.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:01 PM on November 9, 2007 [4 favorites]


Define big.
posted by Eekacat at 2:08 PM on November 9, 2007


Flagged for getting "White Room" stuck in my head for the rest of the day.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:08 PM on November 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Anita Thompson, widow of Hunter, is not happy with Jann Wenner's new book: Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson.
posted by ericb at 2:16 PM on November 9, 2007


From the current issue of Business Week:
The Last Tycoon of Print
"Jann Wenner sits atop the Rolling Stone empire, all but thumbing his nose at the Web."
posted by ericb at 2:16 PM on November 9, 2007


"We take all kind of pills to give us all kind of thrills
But the thrill we've never known
Is the thrill that'll get you when you get your picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone"
posted by Sailormom at 2:17 PM on November 9, 2007


Fuck a bunch of hippies.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:17 PM on November 9, 2007 [8 favorites]


"Loser" and "Sellout" tags made my day.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:23 PM on November 9, 2007


Anita Thompson, widow of Hunter, is not happy with Jann Wenner's new book: Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson.

The documentary BREAKFAST WITH HUNTER has a great scene where Wenner gets sprayed in the face by a CO2 fire extinguisher by Hunter while visiting RS offices.
posted by Peter H at 2:26 PM on November 9, 2007


Like the Rolling Stones, they probably should have packed it up after 20 years.
posted by octothorpe at 2:38 PM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fuck Rolling Stone. There are some things that I just do not forgive.
posted by ND¢ at 2:39 PM on November 9, 2007 [6 favorites]


If RS had flamed out in the 70's and disappeared, it would be a pleasant memory, but no.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:43 PM on November 9, 2007


Like the Rolling Stones, they probably should have packed it up after 20 10 years.
posted by contessa at 2:45 PM on November 9, 2007


They've been celebrating their anniversary with anniversary issues for at least this entire year. It's so boring I yawn when I get my monthly issue.
posted by agregoli at 2:52 PM on November 9, 2007


Rolling Stone: Everything you wanted to know about music 3 years ago.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:57 PM on November 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


Like the Rolling Stones, they probably should have packed it up after 20 10 years.

Trailer for Shine a Light -- Martin Scorsese's upcoming documentary on the Stones.

Previous thread.
posted by ericb at 3:03 PM on November 9, 2007


William Gibson: The Rolling Stone 40th Anniversary Interview

40 Albums That Rolling Stone Got Wrong

Rolling Stone's 40 Years and 40 Songs

all but thumbing his nose at the Web

Except for having boards, some blogs, RSS feeds, videos, and music, sure. And they just did their first-ever digital edition. They've had some good political articles recently, too.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:20 PM on November 9, 2007


Spin was a good magazine for like 2 or 3 years, wasn't it? I imagine RS was too, but it was when I was 5.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 3:21 PM on November 9, 2007


Fuck Rolling Stone.
They give every fucking record a 3 star review. Then a few years later, if the record in question happens to make money, they toss the review over to Winston Smith to be "corrected" and branded a classic. Then they put a bikini clad non-musician straddling a guitar on the cover and call it a music mag.
/Fuck Rolling Stone.
posted by brevator at 3:35 PM on November 9, 2007 [6 favorites]


People still buy magazines? People still print on paper?

Oh, that's soo cute!
posted by ZachsMind at 3:38 PM on November 9, 2007


"don't trust anyone over thirty!"
posted by killy willy at 3:38 PM on November 9, 2007


Except for having boards, some blogs, RSS feeds, videos, and music, sure.

RS doesn't manage/run any of that. About five years ago they licensed their name and many digital assets to RealNetworks which pays them a licensing fee but drives the programming/advertising, etc.
posted by donovan at 3:47 PM on November 9, 2007


Rolling stone is more frequent than monthly, no?

I have no idea, I quit reading it 15 years ago or so. They really went downhill once they started printing on glossy paper. I fondly remember the cheap newsprint days. You can talk about album reviews and whatever, I never really payed much attention to those since I have the ability to form my own opinion about music. I really did like many of the articles they had back in the day. Now it's really just another slick mag on the stand.
posted by Eekacat at 4:01 PM on November 9, 2007


Lest we forget -- Circus, Crawdaddy! ("The Magazine of Rock") and Creem ("America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine").
posted by ericb at 4:01 PM on November 9, 2007


Except for having boards, some blogs, RSS feeds, videos, and music, sure. -- RS doesn't manage/run any of that. About five years ago they licensed their name and many digital assets to RealNetworks which pays them a licensing fee but drives the programming/advertising, etc.

Yep. From the Business Week article:
"Almost certainly, he is the last major print CEO to so blithely disregard the Web for so long. Up until early 2006 the Web page of Us Weekly consisted of a subscription coupon. Today the operations of Rolling Stone's Web site remain in the hands of digital-media company RealNetworks (RNWK), which nets the magazine around $2 million a year in licensing fees as well as, Wenner says, a share of ad monies. Wenner promises ramped-up Web moves, but he proudly reports 'we never lost tons of money chasing down ridiculous online ideas.' He remains the kind of sole proprietor who's happier to save money on the Web than make it, and professes contentment with Rolling Stone's Web deal.

That opinion is not widely shared by company executives...."
posted by ericb at 4:05 PM on November 9, 2007


From TechCrunch, April 12, 2007, Rolling Stone Says They’ll Launch Social Network:
The best place to tell secrets may not be while speaking to a room full of journalism students at New York University. But that’s how Keith Blanchard, Wenner Media’s executive director for online media for Rolling Stone and other magazines, released the news that they plan to launch a MySpace-style social network around the Rolling Stone brand.

Andrea Feczko, one of the students in the class, saw her chance to break a story and promptly did so. Her professor, Patrick Phillips, then emailed a bunch of major bloggers with the news.

Feczko says the social network will be separate from the main Rolling Stone website, and will include “best of” lists with user voting.

There may be one problem, though. The Rolling Stone audience may be too old to get into the social networking scene. Feczko says only one person in her class actually admitted that they ever read the magazine.
According to the post's comments, Rolling Stone won't gather much moss with this late-to-market concept.
posted by cenoxo at 4:10 PM on November 9, 2007


Images:
Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone, 1967 [via].
Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone, 2007 [via].
It's the HDTV age, gentlemen. Time to rock.
posted by cenoxo at 4:43 PM on November 9, 2007


The Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

list of celebrities who have appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine...Its May 18, 2006 issue marked Rolling Stone's 1000th issue.

First cover with John Lennon, November 9th 1967
posted by nickyskye at 4:49 PM on November 9, 2007


Heh. I remember roach clips.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:54 PM on November 9, 2007


Rolling Stone is crap. Everyone knows that music journalism begins and ends with The Pit.
posted by Pastabagel at 5:04 PM on November 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


While we're all bashing Rolling Stone, I have to say that Creem magazine was my favorite of all the rock magazines. While Rolling Stone glossed over punk in the 70's, Creem embraced it.

And their logo was created by Robert Crumb!
posted by cazoo at 5:56 PM on November 9, 2007


Rolling Stone was and still is the worst music journalism on the face of the planet. Every other page is a huge advertisement for something that has little or nothing to do with music and the others consist of bitter talentless hacks pontificating about art they couldn't produce if their lives depended on it. It has become a dynasty of shit.

Rolling Stone was the precursor to MTV; it started out as music journalism and then expanded into a non-musical self-assumed culture-breadline when in actuality it is a diarrhea firehose trying to push products instead of music. They sold out and embody and proliferate everything that is unoriginal and superficial about the music industry.

They think that they are the source of what is cool and hip but they don't really seem to know or care that the only people who read it are people who like the scene for the cool or sex appeal rather than music or the reasons why the scene became cool.
posted by hellslinger at 5:59 PM on November 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


About five or six years ago, maybe more, I was idly watching one of those lameass shows that NBC puts on after Conan during the week. (No, not Carson Daly -- it was whoever succeeded him in that timeslot, so we're talking the bottom of the talent barrel here, folks.) One night their choice for a hip, timely interview was none other than Jan Wenner, who struck me immediately as a world class tool. One of the interviewer's softball questions to him was, who is his favorite current musician or band? Now, keep in mind, this is somewhere on or after the year 2000. Mr Wenner, the publisher of a storied magazine that obstensibly covers acts making music today, (though that is up for debate), should have not had any trouble naming one or even two of the many, many bands that had made music since, say, 1995 at least.

His answer? "Chuck Berry."

Swear to god folks. Not making that up. His favorite current musician, at least as of 2000 or so, was none other than Chuck fucking Berry.

If that doesn't say everything you need to know about Rolling Stone magazine, I don't know what else does.
posted by brain cloud at 6:34 PM on November 9, 2007


Metafilter: bitter talentless hacks pontificating about art they couldn't produce if their lives depended on it
posted by lukemeister at 6:53 PM on November 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


Lester Bangs: "I was never on the staff at Rolling Stone. I freelanced for them from that point, which was like March of 1969, until about '73, I guess, when Jann Wenner threw me out for being, quote, "Disrespectful to musicians," end quote. I wrote a review of Canned Heat, an album called New Age, that said, "Why do we love Canned Heat? Let us count the ways. We love them because they did the longest boogie ever put on record. We love them because..." I mean it was making fun of them. I guess you're not supposed to do that. Well, obviously not in that magazine... I knew it was a piece of shit. The reviews I did for them really stuck out like sore thumbs. And I never did get along with Jann, because he really likes the suck-up type of writing. He doesn't like people that are stylists unless it's somebody he wants to suck up to himself, like Norman Mailer or Truman Capote or someone like that."
posted by Kinbote at 6:56 PM on November 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bitter talentless hacks pontificating about art they couldn't produce if their lives depended on it

See above for a more valid perspective, I guess.
posted by Kinbote at 7:01 PM on November 9, 2007


And I never did get along with Jann, because he really likes the suck-up type of writing. He doesn't like people that are stylists unless it's somebody he wants to suck up to himself, like Norman Mailer or Truman Capote or someone like that.

And therein lies the key to teh suck of RS, I think. If you can't have fun while writing about music, something's fucking wrong with you. I mean that sincerely. The only music-related journalism I had any faith in was written in 1980's Britain, because at least they could crack a damn joke once and again.
posted by brain cloud at 7:06 PM on November 9, 2007


Man, when I see something taking a drubbing like RS is here, I wanna defend it.

But I haven't bought a copy in years.

I'd even buy Spin prior.
posted by klangklangston at 7:51 PM on November 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think the greater argument is that Rolling Stone has sucked since HST left it, and not the other way around.
posted by Peter H at 8:07 PM on November 9, 2007


Their 2 record review paperbacks I bought in the mid 70's were worth reading, but I didn't like how they trashed the Stooges. I haven't read RS since the 70's, and I agree with cazoo that Creem was the best - I still have my Boy Howdy! tee shirt.

Trouser Press was pretty good, too.
posted by rfs at 8:09 PM on November 9, 2007


Rolling Stone went into the tank by the time of Zeppelin's reign if I recall (and I do, cuz I'm old). Their critics were still enamored with the 60s icons like Dylan and the Beatles, the San Francisco scene, CSN, etc. Most of their staff were journalism majors would couldn't read a note of music let alone evaluate it but could pontificate for paragraphs on lyrical content. And so when the 60s imploded and hard rock, art rock, glam rock, metal all took over - they were ill-equipped to take evaluate it and hated it all, especially Wenner. Hence the feud with Zeppelin and ever other band that the teens of the early 70s listened to. Which is why magazines like Creem and Circus flourished because they understood Zep, Aerosmith, Yes, Sabbath, Mott the Hoople, etc. RS panned 'em all and was frustrated that these bands succeeded despite them.
posted by Ber at 8:11 PM on November 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


As for Mendelsohn, his distate for Zeppelin endures, and he too wears it like a badge of honor.

"I discovered YouTube in the last months and I've been watching a bunch of videos by old bands," he says. "I was relieved to discover that I felt the exact same way about them I did when I was twenty-one. I like melody, wit, vocal harmony and expressiveness, all of which are lacking from Led Zeppelin. It's all just showing off."


He just discovered YouTube in the last months. That's Mendelsohn, as out of touch as he ever was.
posted by Ber at 8:14 PM on November 9, 2007


...pontificating about art...

RS is not about art. Like any slick fashion rag, it's about gathering an audience and selling them to advertisers. It's all about the money, boys.
posted by cenoxo at 8:37 PM on November 9, 2007


Jann WEINER.


Get it?


Get it?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:14 PM on November 9, 2007


Since the "Rolling Stones" link in the FPP is broken...

Sympathy for the Devil (live at the Rock & Roll Circus in 1968)
posted by Poolio at 10:27 PM on November 9, 2007


I gave up RS for Sounds, the brilliant UK mag, sometime in the 80s. Here's some Roscoe Moscow for you.
posted by emf at 10:33 PM on November 9, 2007


Did Rolling Stone (after circa 1977) ever understand anything that wasn't corporate rock? Sure, they published some adulatory reviews of some of the most important albums of the last 30 years ..... 10 or 15 years after the albums were originally released.
posted by blucevalo at 10:37 PM on November 9, 2007


On the subject of music magazines, I heartily recommend Wax Poetics.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:37 PM on November 9, 2007


blah blah blah blah mojo blah blah.
posted by padraigin at 10:54 PM on November 9, 2007


I know that today it just seems normal that there's a magazine called "Rolling Stone," but back in 1967, wasn't it odd that the magazine shared a name with the second biggest band in the world? It would be like if I started a music magazine today and called it Radiohead.

I don't even mean from a copyright issue so much as a common sense problem of having to explain again and again that your magazine isn't a Rolling Stones fanzine. Just a really curious decision on Wenner's part.
posted by Ian A.T. at 1:08 AM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think I bought the Cobain suicide issue (which was rife with errors and general cluelessness even then), but I don't recall ever buying another issue. It was always, in my view, a tired Baby Boomer (of which I am not a member) staple, until it morphed into a ridiculous mainstream pop rag. Neither of those things were remotely interesting to me. I spend my teen years reading Creem and Circus, moved to Spin for a bit later, then to MaximumRocknroll, BAM, and "'zines" and the Rocket (for whom I worked for a bit).

True story: I took a job managing web operations for a prominent publishing company in 2000. When the CEO met me, he tried to establish his hipster bona fides with me by saying that he and Jann Wenner had worked together back in the day. I didn't say it, but I am pretty sure I gave him the "aw, dude, Rolling Stone sucks, man" facial expression/body language. He never brought it up again.

The comments on this thread have been awesome. I never could quite put my finger on why RSM sucked so much, but now I never have to wonder again. To me, it was always the work of Mr. Ben Fong-Torres that embodied the magazine to me. That guy's taste in music and his writing can only be described as beige. Not tan, not taupe, but beige. Bland and oppressive beige.
posted by psmealey at 4:49 AM on November 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


At the time, Rolling Stone was an important magazine that discussed contemporary music with a focus on rock and roll, politics and society. It was the first magazine that went mainstream to seriously discuss rock and roll, which was unheard of way back then.

Its existence stated that even though people were young, they carried political and societal clout. That had never been done on such a popular scale before. It was innovative and, as society has changed since the 60's, it's quite accepted that, of course, youth have societal power, rock and roll is here to stay in whatever form it has morphed and regenerated.

And now, there is a whole new style of music/political/social critique...more online in the form of blogs...a rolling stone gathers no moss. If the Rolling Stone were to stay relevant, in the spirit in which they began, they would focus less on the moss behind them.
posted by nickyskye at 8:46 AM on November 10, 2007


Rolling Stone always struck me as music journalism for people who don't like music. Or journalism.
posted by kalimotxero at 10:10 AM on November 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


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