FROM 27 TO 65, BOB'S HAD THE THRILL
Before MTV and the blogosphere, before Pitchfork and satellite radio, there was the cover of Rolling Stone. Thirty years ago, Rolling Stone magazine was perhaps the prime arbiter of pop-music fabulousness, and no piece of real estate was more coveted by rock musicians than its cover. Remember how in 1973 the otherwise forgettable Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show scored both a Top 10 hit and a cover story courtesy a ditty called The Cover of the Rolling Stone?
Blessedly, Dr. Hook only made the cover once. Bob Dylan, by contrast, has had his mug featured there 20 times, either as a solo shot or as part of a group picture or, as happened Jan. 15, 1976 and June 17, 1986, as a twosome, with, respectively, former girlfriend Joan Baez and fellow rocker Tom Petty. Dylan's first appearance came early in Stone's now 39-year history, on the cover of its June 22, 1968 issue, when His Bobness was just 27. His most recent bow occurred just a few weeks ago, with his grizzled 65-year-old mug occupying most of the front of the magazine's 1,008th issue.
That's a fair number of appearances (youngest son Jakob Dylan, by the way, of the semi-famous Wallflowers, has graced two covers. Which, some might argue, has been two too many). But Bob's not the all-time champ in the most-cover-stories category. That goes to the Beatles who, as a group or as individuals or with wives, have made it more than 40 times. The Rolling Stones are in second place, with 29 appearances, while Madonna has had the most visits of any female artist (16). Bruce Springsteen, U2, the Who and Eric Clapton have each had at least 10 cover dates.
One factoid that makes Dylan's total especially impressive is that, starting in mid-1986, his face was absent from Rolling Stone's front for more than 13 years, or roughly 286 issues.