Why Do I Want Old Issues of Rolling Stone Magazine From the 1960s and 1970s?

by James Wallace Harris, 3/26/23

The other day I got the hankering to read old issues of Rolling Stone from the 1960s and 1970s and started trying to track them down. This morning I decided I needed to psychologically evaluate why I was doing this because I realized as I was still lying in bed that I don’t have enough time in life to read everything I want to read. So why waste reading time on these old magazines? That got me thinking about a Reading Bucket List and focusing on reading the most important books rather than just trying to read everything.

I might have ten more years, or it could be twenty or thirty, but the time to get things read is dwindling. For practical purposes, I’m going to assume I have ten years which will put me in the average lifespan range. Since I average reading one book a week, that’s 520 books. My best guestimate suggests I already own six times that many in my TBR pile. Or, put another way, I’ve already bought enough books to keep me reading for another sixty years. I need to stop chasing after more things to read like hundreds of old issues of magazines.

So why want to read a bunch of old magazines? Since I started contemplating the idea of a Reading Bucket List, I realized it’s not the number of books. This was my first useful revelation today. It’s the number of topics I want to study, including fictional explorations on those topics too.

Lately, I’ve been reading about the creation of the atomic bomb, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, atomic bomb tests in the atmosphere, how the general public felt about nuclear war in the 1950s, and 1960s, and how all of that influenced science fiction novels and short stories. If I explored that subject completely I could use up my 520 books easily. Because I want to explore a number of topics before I die, I also need to limit how deep to get into them.

I see now that my Reading Bucket List won’t be a list of books, but a list of topics to study. So I need to change my bucket list name from Reading Bucket List to Topics to Study Bucket List. My fascination with topics usually doesn’t last long, just a few weeks or a couple of months. However, most of the topics I’m interested in are reoccurring. I’ve chased them my whole life and keep coming back to explore them some more.

(It might be valuable to make a list of these topics, but that’s for the future. Another project: see if I can create a timeline of how often these interests resurface.)

Let’s get back to the magazines. I believe writing the above paragraphs have already helped me see something important. I want to reread old issues of Rolling Stone with a specific goal. (One reason I write these blog posts is to think things through and see into myself.)

I want Rolling Stone magazines to find albums and groups I missed when I read Rolling Stone the first time they were coming out. This is part of a larger project of studying I’ve been piddling away at for decades. I started haunting record stores in 1965, but I never could afford to buy many albums each week. As I got older and had more money I’ve always tried to catch up by buying older records when I bought new ones, filling in the past. Now with Spotify, I can listen to almost any album from the past. But I need to know about the group or album to search for it and play it. I thought I’d read old record reviews and look for albums that are forgotten today but got good reviews back then.

My ultimate goal is to get a solid understanding of popular music from 1960 to 1980. Eventually, I want to add 1948-1959 and 1981-1999. And if I have time I’d like to learn about classical music. But I’ll define this topic as: What Were the Best Albums When I Grew Up? I figured Rolling Stone magazine from 11/9/67 to 12/31/80 could help me.

There are plenty of books on the best albums of all time, including from Rolling Stone, and I have many of them. But they tend to focus on the same famous albums and artists. I love when I find a song that’s been forgotten that really excites me. For example, recently I found “Harlem Shuffle” by Bob & Earl from back in 1963. I was listening to AM music at least eight hours a day back in 1963, but I don’t think I remember this song, at least not distinctly remember it. The title is familiar, and some of the lyrics, but then this song has been covered a number of times, including by The Rolling Stones.

Yesterday, I played “Harlem Shuffle” several times very loud on my big stereo with a 12″ subwoofer and it sounded fantastic. Boy did it press some great buttons in my soul. And that’s also part of my Topics to Study Bucket List. I grew up with certain buttons I liked pushed. I want to understand them. Studying music from 1960-1980 is working toward that. Studying science fiction that came out from 1939-1980 is another. But like I said before, making a list of all of them is for another day.

And wanting old issues of Rolling Stone is not a new desire. Back in 1973-74, I bought three huge boxes of old issues of Rolling Stone at a flea market. God, I wish I had them now, but I wouldn’t have wanted to drag them around for fifty years either. And earlier this century I bought Rolling Stone Cover to Cover, which featured every issue from 1967 to May 2007 on DVD. I still have it, but the discs have copy protection and the reader software stopped working after Windows 7. I’m thinking about setting up a machine, or virtual machine, and installing Windows XP on it to see if I can get it going again. But that will be a lot of work.

With some help from some folks on the internet, I’ve gotten the first 24 issues of RS on .pdf. I’m hoping to find more. If you have them and wish to share them, let me know. Or if you know of any other source. I’m also interested in learning about other magazines that reviewed music from 1960-1980. And I’ve already gotten some recommendations of less than famous bands to try. If you have a favorite forgotten album or group leave a comment. And now that I think about it, if you’re working on a similar project, tell me about your methods.

Ultimately, I want a list of all the albums I love most from 1960-1980. I might even buy them if I don’t own them already. I enjoy listening to one or two albums a day. Recent great discoveries were the first albums by Loretta Lynn and Etta James. I was surprised by how well they were produced, and how well everything sounds on my latest stereo system.

This week I discovered Amazon is selling CD sets that feature 3-8 original albums from certain groups for about the price of a single LP. Yesterday, I got in a set of Buffalo Springfield that was remastered under the supervision of Neil Young. 5 CDs for their three albums. (2 CDs are copies in mono.) I also ordered the first 6 studio albums of the Eagles, 7 albums from Fleetwood Mac’s middle period, and five albums of Weather Report. But these are famous albums. The real goal is to find forgotten albums I love as much as the classics of rock music.


10 thoughts on “Why Do I Want Old Issues of Rolling Stone Magazine From the 1960s and 1970s?”

    1. Thanks a million, Paul. That fixed COVER TO COVER. And it works wonderfully on my 34″ widescreen monitor. I had given up on it running on Windows 11 because I read a tech article saying the Bondi reader wouldn’t work on newer versions of Windows. I guess this tech advisor didn’t know about the patch.

      Bondi reader works great now and I have RS from November 1967 to May 2007.

      My next step is to see if I can find a virtual CD/DVD drive so I can run it from .ISOs. Do you know of a good program that could do that?

      And how did you know about the software patch at Archive.org? Do you have COVER TO COVER?

      1. No, I don’t have it, was just looking at the reviews seeing that second hand copies are still for sale.
        You can mount .iso images in File Explorer iirc, you’ll just have to clone the discs to hard drive first.

  1. How about Rough Mix, by Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane?
    It’s the only one I could think of immediately that’s somewhat obscure, and quite good.

  2. I can relate to much of what you write here, Jim! I have a strong retro streak, and sometimes enjoy leafing through decades-old issues, not only of Rolling Stone, but Newsweek, Harpers, etc., if I come upon them in thrift stores, etc.

    I first discovered Rolling Stone in high school in the late seventies, and still remember some of their features from that era, including a very amusing and devastating review of the dreadful Sgt. Pepper movie, an expose of Alfredo Stroessner’s brutal dictatorship in Paraguay, etc.

    1. For some reason, I’ve always loved magazines. I worked in a periodicals department at a university library for six years in the 1980s. But even as a kid in the 1960s, I loved magazines.

  3. i’ve been trying for awhile to run down the second bound volume of rolling stone,which would contain issues#16-#30, which would have covered a good part of senior year in high school; it would be fantastic to have audio tapes of john michaels (“a guy sitting in a blackedout room spinning records,” as you once described the ambiance of the michaels thing) and steven allen rosenbergs electric music machine which opened witha soundbite of w.c. fields (“right now with yr permission i shall dunk my pink and white body into yonder roman tub. i feel a bit gritty after the affairs of the day”) which segued into a chuck berry guitar piece entitled ‘deep feeling.’ the rock scene in miami was never the same after the doors debacle at dinner key auditorium, and rolling stone lost me somewhere between the cover story on star wars (‘the years best movie’, gimme a fucking break!) and dropping greil marcus book reviews. (am i the only one who followed Undercover? sometimes i wander,lonely as a clod.) i recollect the article concerning alfredo stroessner,but i’m damned if i can recollect the name of the author. meanwhile, check out a recording by skip spence entitled ‘oar”, and pretty much anything by moby grape who were the best band out of san francisco back in the age of asparagus,but never got the recognition they deserved. i have spoken!

    1. I don’t recall the name of the author of the article about Paraguay under Stroessner, but the title, as I recall, was, “The Last Place on Earth for the Worst People in the World,” referring to Nazis and other major criminals to whom Stroessner gave refuge. I remember the contents of the article fairly well. As I recall, that issue also had a cover story on Sissy Spacek.

    2. I finally got my Rolling Stone Cover to Cover DVDs working and I have the first forty years of Rolling Stone at my fingertips. Old copies of Cover to Cover go for $10 on eBay. You just have to run the patch that Paul linked to.

      My sister was at that Doors concert at Dinner Key Auditorium.

      Funny thing you should mention Moby Grape. I was thinking about them the other day and tried to play them on Spotify – no go. I remember the first two albums which I got when they came out. Remember that second one, Wow and Grape Jam, the song that needed to be played at 78rpm? Moby Grape’s albums are in some kind of legal limbo. Used CDs are very expensive, but old LPs aren’t bad.

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