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An early Rolling Stone promotion sent every new subscriber a free roach clip!
09.28.2017
12:48 pm
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The February 10, 1968, issue of Rolling Stone
 
It’s difficult to explain why Rolling Stone was able to separate itself from a crowded pack in 1967 to become the most reliable media barometer of Boomer culture in existence. It surely had a great deal to do with Jann Wenner’s personality. It would surprise nobody to learn, as David Weir, a reporter who co-wrote Rolling Stone’s coverage of Patty Hearst in the 1970s, once observed, that Wenner was (and probably is) “a brilliant master at getting what he wants out of people.”

Securing exclusive coverage of high-profile acts was surely a key to the early success of the magazine, but let’s not overlook Wenner’s bold sense of PR. Before the magazine was even a year old, Wenner zeroed in on an unbeatable promotional idea that would appeal to every person in his potential audience while alienating those who didn’t belong.

Wenner put an ad in the magazine stating that he would send every person who bought a subscription a free roach clip. The ad took up a full page and looked like this:
 

 
The text of the ad was a masterpiece of humorous insinuation, never mentioning drugs while winkingly touting 1,001 uses, which happen to include “music appreciation” and “preventing singed lips.” Riiiiiiight…..
 

This handy little device can be yours free!

An essential accessory for the successful musician and the completely equipped rock and roll fan. It has one thousand and one uses around the home, in rehearsal or for better music appreciation. Applications of this delightfully simple piece of machinery range from the frivolous (hanging earrings) to the practical (preventing singed lips.) Each handle comes individually lathed in either mahogany, ebony, oak or rosewood. No two alike! Get ‘em while they last.

Without delay, subscribe to Rolling Stone! We’ll give you one “Handy Little Device” free with your subscription. If you would like to give a gift subscription to a loved one, we’ll send you two “Handy Little Devices” or one to you and one to your loved one. Act now before this offer is made illegal.

 
As related in Robert Draper’s diverting 1990 book Rolling Stone Magazine: The Uncensored History, Wenner came up with the idea while getting high at a friend’s house in (where else?) San Francisco:
 

One afternoon Jann sat with friends in a house on Potrero Hill, smoking dope. Jann was admiring the handsome wooden apparatus which held the joint.

“Where’d you get the roach clip?” he asked its owner, Robert Kingsbury, a man he had met only once before.

“Made it myself,” said Kingsbury. “I make ‘em out of hardwood knobs.”

Jann took a toke and fingered the woodwork of the roach clip. Then he asked, “What do you think you could make these for?”

Kingsbury shrugged. “Maybe eighty cents apiece,” he said.

“Could you make me some?” Jann asked. “I need a lot.”

Sure, why not, said Kingsbury. “What do you need ‘em for?”

“I want to give ‘em away,” said Jann, grinning devilishly. “As a subscription incentive.”

And so page 23 of issue No. 5 featured a photograph of a 41/4-inch roach clip with the headline “This handy little device can be yours free!” With a subscription to Rolling Stone, the ad read, readers would receive this “essential accessory. ... Act now before this offer is made illegal.”

Gleason hit the ceiling. “Marijuana is against the law,” he said, lecturing Jann in his acid Eastern voice. “You can cover it, you can joke about it—but you cannot sell dope paraphernalia through Rolling Stone. You just can’t do that!”

Even by now, however, it was becoming clear [that] Jann Wenner could, and would, do with Rolling Stone whatever he wished.

 
When the New York Times reviewed Draper’s book, it chose to tout the roach clip gimmick in the headline: “A Roach Clip with Every Paid Subscription.”

On the suggestion of Jane Schindelheim, Wenner’s wife, Kingsbury (who was dating Jane’s sister at the time, whom he would later marry) was later asked to become Rolling Stone’s second art director, a position he held for several years. But in some respects he was an odd fit. A sculptor by trade, Kingsbury at 44 was a full generation older than Wenner and virtually everyone else at the magazine. Draper asserts that he “despised rock ‘n’ roll” but was “brilliant and resourceful, a disciplined man.” Draper credits Kingsbury with establishing the relatively clean and uncluttered look (for a counterculture rag, anyway), and he was ushered out of the organization around the time the magazine adopted four-color printing techniques in 1973.

I’m curious how many roach clips ever went out to subscribers. I’m tempted to say “zero.” There is currently a lavish exhibition dedicated to Rolling Stone at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, which I visited recently. There you can find the page with the advertisement as well as one of the clips, but that’s the only one I’ve ever seen reproduced. Below you can see a picture of the Rock Hall display taken by yours truly.

As you can see, Draper has the ad first appearing in the February 24, 1968, issue (“No. 5”), but the promotion actually debuted one issue earlier. The page shown at the Rock Hall does say “February 10, 1968” on it.

In any case, I’m a teensy bit skeptical that there exists any such thing as a human being who received a Rolling Stone roach clip in the mail. The auction site eBay has precisely zero auctions dedicated to the item in its archive, which doesn’t exactly prove anything, and if you can find a picture of one on the Internet, you’re a better Google-stalker than I. Draper mentions that Wenner was having difficulty paying his staff in those first couple of years, so I suspect he pulled the somewhat (in retrospect) Trumpian maneuver of reneging on a promise.

But I don’t know—if you received one of these mahogany beauties in the mail, please reach out and let us know! Pics or it didn’t happen…...
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.28.2017
12:48 pm
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That time David Bowie mailed a pig fetus to a writer at Rolling Stone
08.06.2015
10:47 am
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David Bowie
 
On a recent episode of Adam Carolla’s podcast, writer and Rolling Stone contributing editor David Wild revealed that David Bowie once sent him a most unusual gift.
 

“I was doing a story with David Bowie when he was in Tin Machine. This is early ‘90s. He was somehow there when I got a gift from Tom Petty, who sent me an Indian peace pipe. He [Bowie] goes, “I gotta get you a gift at the end of this piece?” I said, “No, no. You don’t have to do that.” He then went on tour with Tin Machine, and was somewhere in Asia, and he called and goes, “I just got you the perfect gift.” It was a pig fetus in glass. He sent this to me…. The border police, they absolutely shut it down, and it never got to me. But there were weeks and weeks of him checking in to see if a pig fetus had ever arrived. I personally was actually very glad it never came.”

 
So, apparently Bowie meant this offering to be a genuine “thank you”? It sure seems that way. How would you feel if David Bowie mailed you a pig fetus in glass? On one hand, it’s gross and weird, but on the other hand, you’d have a gift from David Bowie!! It’d sure make for an interesting conversation starter…
 
'Heroes' cover shoot
 
Below is a fan-shot video of Tin Machine from a concert held at Civic Hall in Wolverhampton, England on November 2nd, 1991. In the clip, the band is covering the Pixies number “Debaser,” which was part of their live set at the time, though they never released a recorded version of the tune. Perhaps the gruesome imagery conjured up by the lyric “slicing up eyeballs” was part of what endeared the song to Bowie.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
David Bowie holding a cute pink pig on the set of ‘Just A Gigolo,’ 1979
Excerpts from the secret ‘autobiography’ David Bowie gave Cameron Crowe in the mid-‘70s: EXCLUSIVE

Posted by Bart Bealmear
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08.06.2015
10:47 am
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Excerpts from the secret ‘autobiography’ David Bowie gave Cameron Crowe in the mid-‘70s: EXCLUSIVE
07.31.2015
11:56 am
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Mid-1970s Bowie is my favorite Bowie. 1975-1976, living in the Los Feliz house of Glenn Hughes, bassist for Deep Purple. Bowie’s coked out and coked up, obsessed with the occult and given to paranoid delusions. Bowie consorting with witches. Bowie starring in Nicolas Roeg’s excellent The Man Who Fell to Earth and releasing Station to Station, perhaps his most scorchingly funky album and also, as it happens, my favorite of Bowie’s albums. These were the “Thin White Duke” years, as the first line of that album has it; whatever was possessing Bowie, to quote the same song, “It’s not the side effects of the cocaine / I’m thinking that it must be love.”

The primary chronicler of this period in Bowie’s life was unquestionably Cameron Crowe, whose youthful journalistic exploits for Rolling Stone were depicted, after a fashion, in Almost Famous. Not only did Crowe write a cover story on Bowie that appeared in the February 12, 1976 issue; he also interviewed Bowie for the September 1976 issue of Playboy, an interview that featured several remarkable statements, most prominently, that “yes, I believe very strongly in fascism.” Amazingly, Crowe was a teenager when all of this was happening—he turned 20 in July 1977.

If you are a David Bowie addict, it’s fairly likely you have read these lines, which appeared in Crowe’s 1976 feature on Bowie for Rolling Stone:
 

Bowie announces that he’s got a new project, his autobiography. “I’ve still not read an autobiography by a rock person that had the same degree of presumptuousness and arrogance that a rock & roll record used to have. So I’ve decided to write my autobiography as a way of life. It may be a series of books. I’m so incredibly methodical that I would be able to categorize each section and make it a bleedin’ encyclopedia. You know what I mean? David Bowie as the microcosm of all matter.”

If the first chapter is any indication, The Return of the Thin White Duke is more telling of Bowie’s “fragmented mind” than of his life story. It is a series of sketchy self-portraits and isolated incidents apparently strung together in random, probably cutout order. Despite David’s enthusiasm, one suspects it may never outlast his abbreviated attention span. But it’s a good idea. At 29, Bowie’s life is already perfect fodder for an autobiography.

 
The article in Rolling Stone also included an excerpt, in a box. It looked like this:
 

 
So Bowie gave Crowe a manuscript of some sort. What was in it? Has it ever been published in full?

This “first chapter” of The Return of the Thin White Duke clearly has never been published. I consulted ten book-length treatments of Bowie’s life and career (a list of these works can be found at the bottom of this post), and only 2 of them even bothered to mention it, and neither dwelled on it for very long. It’s abundantly clear that not many people know anything about this text.

Bowie: A Biography by Marc Spitz includes the following on page x of the introduction:
 

Bowie’s autobiography, purportedly entitled The Return of the Thin White Duke (after the opening lyric to the 1976 song “Station to Station”) has been rumored for years as well, but either the asking price is too high or it’s a bluff; or it’s really in the works, and like Bob Dylan’s Chronicles volume one, it will arrive when it’s the right time.

 
Meanwhile, in The Man Who Sold the World, Peter Doggett writes on page 285:
 

Much of The Man Who Fell to Earth was filmed in Albuquerque—the so-called Duke City, having been named for the Spanish duke of Albuquerque, Spain. And it was there that David Bowie, who was unmistakably thin, and white, began to write a book of short stories titled The Return of the Thin White Duke. It was, he explained, “partly autobiographical, mostly fiction, with a deal of magic in it.” Simultaneously, he was telling Cameron Crowe: “I’ve decided to write my autobiography as a way of life. It may be a series of books.” Or it might be a song—or, as printed in Rolling Stone magazine at the time, the briefest and most compressed of autobiographical fragments, which suggested he would have struggled to extend the entire narrative of his life beyond a thousand words.

 
In 2012 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened its Library and Archives in Cleveland, Ohio, and one of the institution’s most intriguing holdings is the Rolling Stone Collection, which contains the editorial files, notes, work product, etc. for all issues starting in 1974 and stretching all the way to 1989. It’s a lot of super-interesting material to which all rock journalists should be paying attention.

The manuscript of chapter 1 of The Return of the Thin White Duke that Bowie gave to Crowe is in those files, and I’ve read it in its entirety.

Rolling Stone’s arrangement with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives does not permit visual reproduction of its work product, so it is not possible for Dangerous Minds to post the pages of this manuscript here. However, researchers are permitted to quote portions of items found in the Rolling Stone Collection—I was told that I am permitted to quote 10% of the manuscript as “fair use.” I’m going to do just that, in a minute.

When I first encountered this at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives, I excused myself from the archive (cellphones are not permitted in the room itself) and Googled a few choice phrases to see whether anyone else had ever published it. I came up with zero hits in all instances.

The manuscript is nine pages long, typewritten. What’s contained in the archive is a Xerox copy of the original; where the original is, I have not the slightest idea. On the top of the first page is typed, in allcaps, “THE RETURN OF THE THIN WHITE DUKE.” Underneath that, in someone’s handwriting—perhaps the author’s, perhaps Crowe’s—are the words “BY DAVID BOWIE.”

It is quite a remarkable document, with Bowie inserting often mundane impressions of the past into a grandiloquent, over-the-top sci-fi allegorical construct reminiscent of Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway or, indeed, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. (Just to give you an idea, the named characters in the manuscript include the “Thin White Duke,” the “Finder,” the “Fatal Father,” and “Magnauseum.” I think.) As for the more workaday parts, there’s a paragraph comparing the relative merits of chisel toes versus high pointers (these are types of shoe), with Bowie, in whatever fictive guise, preferring the chisel toe. Another longish passage is dedicated to the decisions involved in painting his home: “Deep blue was the color that I took to every dwelling,” starts Bowie on that subject.

The text is broken up into many, many shorter sections, most of which are just a paragraph or two long. For some reason Hebrew letters are used to distinguish the sections (ALEPH, BETH, GIMEL, DALETH, HE, VAU, ZAIN). In between the more prosaic bits that are apparently about Bowie’s own life are sections in which the Thin White Duke and possibly others—it’s not quite clear—present their verbose and overblown pronouncements about life and music and fame.

Oh, also? There’s a fair bit of sex in it. A couple of the passages are quite steamy.

Much, much more after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
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07.31.2015
11:56 am
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Is Rolling Stone trolling an entire generation of electronic music fans?
11.07.2013
03:34 pm
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DJs. Criminals with a license to shoot shit into our eardrums.

This commercial, directed by Federico Brugia and Filmmaster Productions, purports to be for Italian Rolling Stone Magazine. I can’t find much about it online except for this information on Ads of the World and Rolling Stone Italy.

It’s either a real ad commissioned by Rolling Stone or else something for the director’s reel, it’s unclear to me. Whatever the case, I’m sure the ad—which is basically calling out DJs as assholes—is going to piss a lot of people off. If the (obvious) object of this exercise is to get people talking about Italian Rolling Stone, I think it worked. Maybe they should consider renaming the magazine “Trolling Stone” if they keep this up!

I must admit, I did mildly chuckle at it. 

Not safe for work.
 

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley
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11.07.2013
03:34 pm
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This is why punk had to happen: Craptastic ‘Rolling Stone’ TV special, 1977
06.26.2012
12:42 pm
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image
 
This ridiculously literal Beatles tribute (guess what happens when the line “Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head” is sung? Go on, take a guess…) is from a 1977 Rolling Stone magazine TV special.

Featuring Broadway’s original “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Ted Neeley , Yvonne Ellman (JCS’s “Mary Magdalene”), Richie Havens, Patti LaBelle and a dancing Nixon and Kissinger, this will make your flesh crawl after a while… and it goes on forever.

“A Day in the Decade” was a good title for this awfulness. The YouTube poster writes that he found this on an unlabeled Betamax tape at a flea market. Fitting!
 

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.26.2012
12:42 pm
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