Rolling Stone -- every issue from 1967 to 2007 on DVD

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I'm fanatical about Rolling Stone Cover to Cover: The First 40 Years. It's got every issue on three DVDs and works with Windows and Mac.

Once you install the reader application, searches are fast. They're even faster if you copy the DVDs to your internal hard drive. (You're not allowed to copy them to an external hard drive, which is a bummer, because I have a 100 GB external hard drive that is just waiting to be filled with something like this.) The first disc contains the print run from 1967 to 1983, which is pretty much all I care about, so I copied that one over to my internal drive.

It's fun to search on terms to see when they first appeared in Rolling Stone. "Punk Rock" made its debut in 1973 (though it was about garage punk, not the punk rock that began in 1975). An October 1977 article by Charley Walters called "Punk: Pretty Vacant Music" is the first to mention The Clash. (Walters has good things to say about The Clash, but dismisses punk rock music in general as "overly simplistic and rudimentary. It's also not very good.")

Hunter S. Thompson's first article for Rolling Stone (October 1970) is an exuberant, drug-fueled 12,000 word account of his nearly-successful run for Sheriff of Aspen, Colorado.

The magazine got its first taste of MDMA on Decemeber 19, 1985 in Gary Wolf's article "Don't Get Wasted, Get Smart!" in 1991 P.J. O'Rourke's "Tune In. Turn On. Go to the Office Late on Monday." (Thanks, Jack!)

Boing Boing didn't show up until February 22, 2007 ("a must click resource for budding futurists since it broke news of the Segway personal transport in 2001").

It's also fun to simply browse through the early issues and admire its zine-like design.

I'm still just beginning to understand the awesomeness of having a searchable complete run of Rolling Stone at my fingertips. If I'm not answering my email or phone calls, you'll know why. Link


  1. Horrible magazine, always was, always will be. Creem and Crawdaddy and Trouser Press infinitely better.

  2. Once you install the reader application, searches are fast. They’re even faster if you copy the DVDs to your internal hard drive. (You’re not allowed to copy them to an external hard drive…)

    I’m curious — how exactly does this restriction work? Are you just not allowed to copy them, or will it not allow you to read them if it discovers the files on an external drive (What I’m really wondering is if there’s anything that would prevent you from copying the files to an internal hard drive and then putting that drive in an external enclosure).

    Similarly, will it not let you use it off of a network drive (can I copy it to one computer in my house but read it off another)?

  3. Why aren’t you allowed to copy the issues to an external hard drive? Can you tell us more about the reader application?

  4. I loved perusing my brother’s old RS’s from the 70s and I especially admired the lovely cover designs. Those covers took a pretty serious downturn in the 80s when RS consolidated their look; boring fonts, boring photography and inane story slugs. I remember Duran Duran touted as “THE FAB FIVE” on one cover, Sean Penn was “THE NEXT JAMES DEAN?” on another. Haven’t read RS in years, hope things have improved.

  5. You should do a count on specific names, see who shows up the most.
    I’m betting it would be Bob Dylan, because they’re bonkers over him.

  6. Yeah, I was interested in this and the Playboy DVD set until I found out about the DRM — there’s a company putting out complete runs of old Marvel Comics on DVD as plain vanilla PDFs and it works great for me. I can copy everything onto my external drive (or just the issues I’m interested in) and read them without anything fancier than Adobe Reader.

  7. How in the world do they allow you to copy the files to an internal hard drive but not an external one?

  8. The first commenter hits the nail on the head. It’s telling that “the first taste of MDMA” came a decade late.

    There was an exchange with Jann Wenner and Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report, in which Wenner cited Prince as an example of good new music coming out today. Here’s the link … I had to sift through Comedy Central’s horribly organized website and sit through an advertisement in which David Spade shamelessly pitched for Axe Shower Gel, but the Wenner clip is a nice example of “grasping for relevance.”

  9. Mark,

    Try installing to your HD (as you’ve already done), then manually copying the files to folder on an external drive. Once you’ve done that, make a symbolic link from where the files used to be on the internal, to their new home on the external. I’d be curious to know if that works.

  10. I must confess I don’t know how to make a symbolic link on my Mac. If you tell me how, I’ll give this a try!

    BTW, the first mention of “world wide web” was a 616-word article, “Music by Modem” which ran in in July 1994 and was written by my friend, James Daly.

  11. On a Mac, they’re called aliases. You can make one by right clicking a file->Make Alias or selecting it and hitting Command-L.

  12. On a Mac, they’re called aliases. You can make one by right clicking a file->Make Alias or selecting it and hitting Command-L.

  13. I know nothing about Macs.
    But I bet on a Windows machine it looks at an environment variable, say SYSTEMDRIVE, and obtains the drive letter from that. Or maybe it gets it out of the registry. Maybe you should send me a copy of this so I can investigate :)

  14. I am stunned that there are still people who read that stale, wretched excuse for a magazine, and especially that there is readership overlap with this site. The so-called “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” is more up to date.

    If I wanted to experience baby boomers fawning over each other and staid music, I’d put on Disraeli Gears and surf over to lemonparty.

  15. Rolling Stone. Phooey! Now the entire run of National Lampoon, that’s worth getting excited about! Does anyone know if any of these would work with any of the ebooks? I suppose the size might be a drawback…

  16. I felt the same way about the Stone as a lot of the other commenters here until I got a free subscription when I bought an iPod charger for my car (no shit). The covers are admittedly terrible and lowest-common-denominator, but I was surprised to find some great articles tucked inside.

    Back in June 2006 there was a great multi-thousand-word piece about James Brown (before he died, even) by Jonathan Letham called “Being James Brown” that would’ve been worth the annual subscription price of $11.99 by itself.

    And this year, Matt Taibbi’s coverage of the primary campaigns has been awesome. I actually PAID for a subscription to Rolling Stone this time just so I could keep reading Taibbi’s stuff. Check out his recent profile of Mike Huckabee: Our Favorite Right-Wing Nut Job. He clearly owes a large debt to the great Dr. Thompson, but there’s been no one else carrying that torch quite so eloquently since the original stomped terra.

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