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Collecting Rolling Stone Magazine Vintage Issues

Updated on May 15, 2017
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Toni has been an avid collector of rock n roll memorabilia for 20+ years - from The Beatles and Woodstock up to contemporary artists.

First Issue of Rolling Stone Magazine November 9, 1967 with John Lennon
First Issue of Rolling Stone Magazine November 9, 1967 with John Lennon

Collecting Rolling Stone Magazine Vintage Issues, Covers and Artwork

If you are a collector of vintage rock music magazines, then there are probably issues of Rolling Stone magazine in the archives of your collection. Many collectors still enjoy reading the past issues, starting from the 60s, as well as preserving them for music history. The issues have a sense of capturing that particular moment in history and culture - the shaping of a generation.

Musicians weren't the only ones who coveted the front cover; actors, politicians, sport figures, and even fictional characters (i.e. Eric Cartman from South Park),knew that being awarded the front page meant they were relevant. It meant instant chart rise as well as records soaring record sales. The power of the press, especially the Rolling Stone magazine during the explosion of the 60s culture, was recognized as a leading publication.

The first issue was published out of San Francisco on November 9, 1967. The publication captured the music, politics and the heart of the hippie culture as well as current underground movements and protests. It was an instant success. There was the Vietnam war and the burning of the bras. The impact on the artist or band being on the cover was instant success. There was even a hit song written about it. Remember "On The Cover Of The Rolling Stone" written by Shel Silverstein and recorded by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show released in 1973. It tells the story of how important it was to get the cover the magazine.

Now, 50 years later, they've become collectibles; and, as with all collectibles, they grow in value over time; especially specific issues kept in a good condition. The Rolling Stone Magazine is still published today and considered the ultimate music magazine - even in this digital age. It has held its own over a half century in print.

"Rolling Stone is not just about the music, but about the things and attitudes that music embraces."

— Jann Wenner - Founder & Publisher

This list covers the first ten issues in order of publication:

  1. John Lennon, November 9, 1967
  2. Tina Turner, November 23, 1967
  3. The Beatles, Magical Mystery Tour, December 14, 1967
  4. Jimi Hendrix, Donovan & Otis Redding, January 20, 1968
  5. Jim Morrison, February 10, 1968
  6. Janis Joplin, February 24, 1968
  7. Jimi Hendrix, March 9, 1968
  8. Monterey Pop Festival, April 6, 1968
  9. John Lennon & Paul McCartney, Yellow Submarine, April 27, 1968
  10. Eric Clapton, May 11, 1968

Most Popular Collectors' Issues

The original publications of the magazine have a high collectors value - with, of course, condition being a main attribute in determining the worth. Other special collectors editions that covered the deaths of the mega musicians of that era have accelerated in price over the years as well; including the deaths of The Doors Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, the murder of John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix. Later years covered the untimely death of Kurt Cobain.

Many Special Editions have been published by Rolling Stone over the years, and the Woodstock issue has become one of the most popular. It has both a U.K. issue and U.S. edition (the only difference is the "hippie" facing left or right in the picture). Some of the Woodstock issues can command over a hundred dollars - it all has to do with the condition of the piece.


Rolling Stone Magazine Format Over The Years

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Changes in the Magazine Format From 1967- Present

When first published, the issues were folded like a tabloid size newspaper. It only contained black ink - no color - and the binding had no staples. This format was used up to 1972.

in 1973, color photos were added, and the paper size was slightly enlarged. Bar codes were added in 1979. The next changed included glossy paper and it adapted a large magazine format. This lasted from 1980- 2008.

Since Oct. 2008, the Rolling Stone has published a standard format magazine in size and appearance.


Madonna has appeared on more covers than any other female, either alone or in a "collage" cover

Rolling Stone Magazine Special Editions

When a music event or historical moment occurs, the Rolling Stone magazine will dedicate an entire issue to the publication outside of it's normal printing. Those are the special issues - which become the more valuable collectible because of its popularity. Most collections will contain the Special Editions as these moments in music history are recorded with great detail and fully explore the life and death of a person, or the musical event, that has greatly contributed to the cultural era.

Rolling Stone has had some of the greatest journalists over the years, who have interviewed or covered specific events and must be credited for having contributed over the years - Hunter Thompson being among one of the best.

Cover Of The Rolling Stone by Dr. Hook

Memorialized in a song "Cover of the Rolling Stone?"

When Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show released their song "Cover of the Rolling Stone" in 1972, it cemented the importance of the magazine, and the effect it could have on a music career. It was a fun song whose lyrics explained the importance of getting the cover of the magazine, and how coveted it was to get your "picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone."

This video shows all the various covers over the years, and the representation of the era, and the numerous cultural events that influenced the generations of the years.

The popularity of the song was so great, that Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show finally made the cover of the Rolling Stone in March of 1973. Even though it was a caricature of the band (not a true photograph), the caption names them as "What's Their Names Make The Cover" - but everyone knew who they were.



Magazine Archives For Free

The Rolling Stone Magazine Archives are available for FREE but only for magazine subscribers.

The Early Days of Rolling Stone

The Early Days with Ben Fong-Torres

In a behind-the-scenes look, Ben Fong-Torres, the original publisher of Rolling Stone magazine discusses the creation and original concept revealing the excitement of eleven years with the publication. Being able to find and promote performers, politicians and having an empty canvas to create a non-mainstream news publication for innovative discoveries of the culture that began with capturing the 60s generation and throughout the years.

Rolling Stone is the only magazine that is still published every two weeks.

The Beatles, as individuals or as the band, have appeared over 30 times

Do You Collect Rolling Stone Magazines? Or have a favorite issue?

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