Friday, July 19, 2013

The COVER of the ROLLING STONE - (Give 'em the HOOK)

Remember when being on the cover of Rolling Stone was cool?

Gravel-voiced Shel Silverstein wrote a song about it, and like many he wrote for his "cover band" Dr. Hook ("Sylvia's Mother" the first) those guys were able to make it a hit. The magazine even put Dr. Hook on the cover!

Lead singers Ray and Dennis were the first rockers I interviewed. It was a great way to start. They were, as they admitted, "goofballs" who just "stumbled out on stage" to have a good time. How could I not feel at ease talking to such unpretentious guys?? I had a great time talking with them, the start of "dreams coming true," and not only meeting most of my favorite stars but doing it professionally, with mutual respect and benefit. I was glad to have other chances to talk to Ray and Dennis and to write about them as they piled up more hits. What times.

Times have changed. A band putting out albums full of oldies, swamp rock, novelty, and C&W tear jerkers? Does that happen now? Does any band put out a collection of songs you could sing along to? As for the cover of the Rolling Stone, well, I haven't written in to cancel my subscription, but that mag has been trying my patience by devoting space, and often the cover, to talentless assholes (Kid Rock, Jay-Z, Kanye etc.) And the cutie-pie shot of adorable "Jahar" on the cover IS a gaffe.

They should admit it instead of being snotty with excuses. Associate editor Simon Vozick-Levonson tweeted: "Should journalists not write about people who commit awful crimes?" The answer is, YOU slanted the photo to make him the love-puppy, the one that has girls screaming "Free him, Free him" on Facebook because he's SO cute. YOU could've added a few sobering images on that cover to contrast his looks with his actions. A caption calling him a baby-faced monster would've also helped make your point clearer.

Then there was the Tweet (quickly deleted) from senior editor Christian Hoard (yes, that's his name) saying: "I guess we should have drawn a dick on Dzhokhar's face or something?" Well, Christian, in this case, I can't say you were really any more of a journalist than Perez Hilton.

I've been a magazine editor several times, and I've chosen what goes on a cover, by myself or along with my art department and publisher and staff, with 100,000 to 500,000 readers waiting. I would not have chosen such a cover. I've made some mistakes now and then (a mis-labeled caption, a photo of a rocker with a half-naked groupie which got the mag pulled from distribution in one particular country) but nothing like this.

And so Rolling Stone will lose a lot of money on returns of the issue. I'm not for censorship, or Paula Deen-type bullying where people use economic sanctions to force their view on someone else, but…I ain't exactly crying for millionaire publisher Jann Wenner…who probably was licking his lips at that picture of the curly-haired cutie who went wrong. As wrong as his editorial staff.

Turning away from two murderous brothers, let's go back and hear my friends Ray and Dennis. Ray (eye patch) is still touring here and there as Dr. Hook (with no mention allowed of Dennis) and Dennis lives in England, makes an album now and then…and always has a good audience for his live shows, which are a lot more mature than the old days…but still a lot of fun.

Back when it meant something to be on the... COVER OF THE ROLLING STONE


ROLLING STONE doesn't think pretty-boy-Muslim-maniac on the cover will hurt them financially.

The mag's circulation is 95% subscription (1.4 million copies).

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