Rolling Stone Magazine’s 50th Anniversary, Donovan, John Lennon and Annie Leibovitz

by Chris Murray on January 23, 2017

The 50th Anniversary issue of Rolling Stone magazine, featuring Emma Stone. The current issue of Rolling Stone magazine, with Mark Seliger’s portrait of Emma Stone on the cover.

This year is the 50th anniversary of Rolling Stone magazine. Like so many people, Rolling Stone has been an essential publication for me. Rolling Stone has also been a major influence on my work as a curator, author and art dealer. Rolling Stone, along with the jackets for vinyl recordings, “album covers,” is what visually inspired me to champion significant photographs documenting rock & roll, blues, soul music and jazz. There is no other publication that has so consistently presented much of the best music photography of our time.

Meryl Streep, 1981. © Annie Leibovitz. Meryl Streep, 1981. This image was on the cover of Annie’s first book, Annie Leibovitz: Photographs (Pantheon, 1983). © Annie Leibovitz.

It was my good fortune to host Annie Leibovitz‘s first exhibition of her photographs, which was also a launch for her first book. The exhibition and book featured work from the several years that Annie had just spent as chief photographer for Rolling Stone. I bought my first photo of Annie’s in 1984 on the day we hung her exhibition together. It was her now-legendary photo of a naked John Lennon holding on to his wife, Yoko Ono. When I told Annie I was buying that photo, she told me that John had been murdered the same day she took it. Realizing it was a most significant image, I decided to find other photographs of that quality that were related to musical artists and the culture around them.

Since that time, I also had first exhibitions for Baron Wolman, who was the first chief photographer for Rolling Stone, as well as the great photographer Mark Seliger, who became Rolling Stone‘s chief photographer after Annie left.

Inaugural issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, 1967. Inaugural issue of Rolling Stone magazine, 1967.

Donovan, Los Angeles, 1969. © Baron Wolman. Donovan, Los Angeles, 1969. © Baron Wolman.

Govinda Gallery has been representing Donovan and his visual art with exhibitions of his extraordinary Sapphographs in Washington, Athens and Dublin. Donovan is the first Rolling Stone interview and it was published in the inaugural issue of Rolling Stone with his friend John Lennon on the cover. In the current issue of Rolling Stone, Andy Green writes a wonderful two-page story about Rolling Stone‘s origins and Jann Wenner‘s creative collaboration with music critic extraordinaire Ralph J. Gleason. In the story in the current issue, Green writes, “At the center was a two-page Rolling Stone interview with Donovan in which he talked about Bert Jansch, the hippie movement, and George Harrison’s recent trip to Haight-Ashbury.”

Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone's offices in San Francisco, 1969. © Baron Wolman. Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone‘s offices in San Francisco, 1969. © Baron Wolman.

My thanks to Jann Wenner who founded and published Rolling Stone and to all the great photographers who contribute to Rolling Stone with their wonderful images.

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