The 10 Most Controversial Rolling Stone Covers

by Newton Gimmick on July 17, 2013

in Lists


6. Barack Obama

President (then Senator) Obama’s first Rolling Stone cover in 2008 garnered sharp conservative criticism that the magazine had an agenda. It marked one of the few times that a politician was treated as a rockstar.


The hazy, almost angelic look to the photo only further fanned the flames from critics of the candidate’s idealist dreams of hope.


7. Dr. Hook & The Medicene Show

One of the only groups to ever campaign to be on the cover, Dr. Hook’s hit song about the “Cover of the Rolling Stone” earned them the honor in the form of a caricature in 1973.

The caption read, “What’s-Their-Names Make the Cover”.


8. Jim Morrison

The Doors frontman was no stranger to controversy himself, and his death in 1971 caught fans by surprise. A decade later, Rolling Stone found themselves getting some flack for their caption of the cover photo.

Of course while the cover was somewhat macabre, the article inside was a poignant piece about how dead celebrities often experience more success than when they’re alive. The fact that people were talking about the cover at all, is proof of that.


9. Charles Manson

The appearance of Charles Manson in 1970 on the cover of Rolling Stone is the perfect embodiment of the country’s tendency at the time to raise murderers and criminals to superstardom.

No one is more apropos to this belief than Charles Manson, who’s bizarre Manson Family murders were the subject of countless media attention. Rolling Stone helped Manson and his Helter Skelter mentality to achieve almost mythic status.


10. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Perhaps to borrow a page from Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone episode, “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”, the suspected Boston terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s appearance on the cover of the latest issue of Rolling Stone has brought a wave of outrage with it. It’s not so much that Tsarnaev appears on the cover, but that he’s shown in a photo that makes him look not unlike the superstars that normally appear on the cover.

What seems to be lost on many, is that Rolling Stone intended for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to look like a regular person, as an allegory to the fact that the face of terrorism isn’t just scary men in turbans.


Purveyor of pop culture, toy enthusiast and award winning amateur scientist, Newton Gimmick founded and currently runs One of many web writers not afraid to profess his love of 80s cartoons, toys, pseudo sports and Jell-O. What makes Newton unique from the others? He does it all from the comfort of his custom Denver: The Last Dinosaur Snuggie.


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Depoty July 17, 2013 at 5:45 pm

I was hoping to see that Jen Aniston nude cover, not because its controversial, I just love looking at it.

LoviByProxy July 18, 2013 at 9:40 am

And the Janet Jackson cover mmm

Bianchi79 July 18, 2013 at 10:19 am

I never realized that was the caption on the Jim Morrison cover. Jeez.

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