Rolling Stone Magazine Turns 1,000

Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner poses for a portrait with a reproduction of the cover of the magazine's 1000th issue, Tuesday, May 2, 2006 in his New York office (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
Rolling Stone magazine celebrates its 1,000th issue this week with a burst of rock 'n' roll excess: a glitzy Manhattan party with the Strokes as house band and a 3-D cover that mimics the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" sleeve and cost nearly $1 million to produce.

It's an audacious sign of how Rolling Stone, which has numbered its issues since Jann Wenner put out No. 1 in 1967, remains dominant even with changing times and music.

Rolling Stone loves to mark special occasions with special issues; this time, it's focusing on its covers, which has long served as a barometer of who is popular, reports CBS News correspondent Richard Schlesinger. Dr. Hook once sang of the thrill musicians get when they're "On the Cover of Rolling Stone." At Wenner Media's office in New York, all the covers are lined up on hallway walls, starting with John Lennon on RS No. 1.

"The cover is iconic," Wenner said. "The cover, more than any other thing we do, resonates in people's minds. By and large the greatest things we've done, the greatest stories, have had the greatest covers."

The 3-D cover is pure Wenner. Much like Beatles fans pored over the pastiche of faces on "Sgt. Pepper," he wants readers to study his cover for their own cultural reference points. There's Chuck Berry duck-walking, Madonna grabbing her crotch, Bono with a microphone and even — upon very close inspection — Waldo.

Wenner believes it's the costliest magazine cover ever. He denies with an expletive reports that the magazine's publisher, Steve DeLuca, left in February because his boss was pinching pennies on the party.

The issue is clogged with details like Wenner's favorite cover (Annie Leibovitz's portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono taken hours before Lennon was shot) and the most memorable cover headline ("He's Hot, He's Sexy and He's Dead" about Jim Morrison). Mostly, it's a nostalgic look at a time when the magazine spoke for a generation and an art form.

Getting on Rolling Stone's cover "wasn't just publicity, the way all magazine covers have become," comic Steve Martin writes in RS 1000. "It was in itself an artistic achievement."