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Collecting "Rolling Stone" Magazine Vintage Issues

Toni has been an avid collector of rock n roll memorabilia for 20+ years—from the Beatles and Woodstock up to contemporary artists.

The First Issue of "Rolling Stone" Magazine

The First Issue of "Rolling Stone" Magazine

"Rolling Stone" Magazine: Shaping a Generation

If you are a collector of vintage rock music magazines, then there are probably issues of Rolling Stone magazine in the archives of your collection. Many collectors still enjoy reading the past issues, starting from the 60s, as well as preserving them for music history. The issues have a sense of capturing that particular moment in history and culture—the shaping of a generation.

Musicians weren't the only ones who coveted the front cover; actors, politicians, sports figures, and even fictional characters (i.e. Eric Cartman from South Park) knew that being awarded the front page meant they were relevant. It meant instant chart rise as well as record-breaking record sales. The power of the press, especially the Rolling Stone magazine during the explosion of the 60s culture, was recognized as a leading publication.

The first issue was published out of San Francisco on November 9, 1967. The publication captured the music, politics and the heart of the hippie culture as well as current underground movements and protests. It was an instant success. There was the Vietnam war and the burning of the bras. The impact on the artist or band being on the cover was an instant success. There was even a hit song written about it. Remember "On the Cover of the Rolling Stone" written by Shel Silverstein and recorded by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show released in 1973. It tells the story of how important it was to get the cover the magazine.

Now, 50 years later, they've become collectibles; and, as with all collectibles, they grow in value over time; especially specific issues kept in good condition. It's still currently published and considered the ultimate music magazine—even in this digital age. In addition, The Rolling Stone magazine subscription is still available. It has held its own for over a half-century in print.

'Rolling Stone' is not just about the music, but about the things and attitudes that music embraces.

— Jann Wenner, Founder and Publisher

This list covers the first 10 issues in order of publication:

  1. John Lennon, November 9, 1967
  2. Tina Turner, November 23, 1967
  3. The Beatles, Magical Mystery Tour, December 14, 1967
  4. Jimi Hendrix, Donovan & Otis Redding, January 20, 1968
  5. Jim Morrison, February 10, 1968
  6. Janis Joplin, February 24, 1968
  7. Jimi Hendrix, March 9, 1968
  8. Monterey Pop Festival, April 6, 1968
  9. John Lennon & Paul McCartney, Yellow Submarine, April 27, 1968
  10. Eric Clapton, May 11, 1968
Woodstock Cover of "Rolling Stone" Magazine, a Popular Collector's Issue

Woodstock Cover of "Rolling Stone" Magazine, a Popular Collector's Issue

The original publications of the magazine have a high collectors value—with, of course, the condition being a main attribute in determining the worth. Other special collectors editions that covered the deaths of the mega musicians of that era have accelerated in price over the years as well; including the deaths of The Doors, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin and the murder of John Lennon. Later years covered the untimely death of Kurt Cobain.

Many Special Editions have been published by Rolling Stone over the years. One of the more popular, and sometimes found, is the Woodstock issue (check for availability). It has both a U.K. issue and U.S. edition (the only difference is the "hippie" facing left or right in the picture). Some of the Woodstock issues can command over a hundred dollars—it all has to do with the condition of the piece.

The Beatles, as individuals or as the band, have appeared over 30 times on the cover of "Rolling Stone."

Changes in the Magazine Format From 1967-Present

When first published, the issues were folded like a tabloid size newspaper. It only contained black ink—no color—and the binding had no staples. This format was used up to 1972.

In 1973, color photos were added, and the paper size was slightly enlarged. Bar codes were added in 1979. The next changed included glossy paper and it adapted a large magazine format. This lasted from 1980-2008.

Since October 2008, Rolling Stone has published a standard format magazine in size and appearance.

Madonna has appeared on more covers than any other female, either alone or in a "collage" cover.

Special Editions

When a music event or historical moment occurs, the magazine will dedicate an entire issue to the publication outside of its normal printing. Those are the special issues—which become the more valuable collectible because of their popularity. Most collections will contain the Special Editions, as these moments in music history are recorded with great detail and fully explore the life and death of a person, or the musical event, that has greatly contributed to the cultural era.

Rolling Stone has had some of the greatest journalists over the years, who have interviewed or covered specific events and must be credited for having contributed over the years—Hunter Thompson being among one of the best.

Memorialized in Song

When Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show released their song "Cover of the Rolling Stone" in 1972, it cemented the importance of the magazine and the effect it could have on a music career. It was a fun song whose lyrics explained the importance of getting the cover of the magazine, and how coveted it was to get your "picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone."

This video shows all the various covers over the years, and the representation of the era, and the numerous cultural events that influenced the generations of the years.

The popularity of the song was so great that Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show finally made the cover of Rolling Stone in March of 1973. Even though it was a caricature of the band (not a true photograph), the caption names them as "What's Their Names Make The Cover"—but everyone knew who they were.

Magazine Archives for Free

The "Rolling Stone" magazine archives are available for free, but only for subscribers.

The Early Days With Ben Fong-Torres

In a behind-the-scenes look, Ben Fong-Torres, the original publisher of Rolling Stone magazine, discusses the creation and original concept revealing the excitement of 11 years with the publication. He talks about being able to find and promote performers and politicians and having an empty canvas to create a non-mainstream news publication for innovative discoveries of the culture that began with capturing the 60s generation and throughout the years.

Rolling Stone is one of the only magazines that is still published every two weeks.

Questions & Answers

Question: I have a copy of the first issue of a Rolling Stone magazine, what is the possible value?

Answer: Again, it depends on the condition. But the first issue is usually one of the most valuable. I suggest to most questions regarding value, to research and see what previous prices have been paid for this issue. Prices are always changing depending on the supply and demand.

Question: How do I determine if my Rolling Stone magazine Volume 1, number 1 is a reprint or not?

Answer: The reprint came out in 1986, and (I believe) it's Page 2 in very small print "Edition Reprinted September 1986." Also, the paper on the reprint is glossy, instead of the newsprint.

Question: Is a 1971 issue of Rolling Stone worth any money?

Answer: It depends on the condition and who is on the cover. One of the best ways to determine the value (which is what someone is willing to pay for it), is to check it out on eBay. Ebay has a search feature which will tell you what previous issues have sold for, if at all - "Completed Sells." If you are interested in selling, the best time is when there are no other same issues available. Otherwise, you are competing with other sellers and it lessens the rarity.

Question: I have bookbound issues of all Rolling Stone magazines between 4/69 and 3/72. Where can I sell these for the most value?

Answer: I would research eBay where you can find out if it was sold in the past and how much under "completed sales." See if any are for sale currently and what activity there is on bidders or watchers. Book bound may be popular as I would think condition is very good if not near mint. Research online with keywords. This would be a good time of the year as people are holiday shopping for gifts.

Question: I have a bound edition of the first 15 issues of Rolling Stone, is it of value?

Answer: It sounds like you have a bound edition of the set, not individually bound; either way, yes, they would have value. Depending on the condition and finding a buyer, of course. The first 15 would include some of the more valuable editions; such as Lennon, Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin, etc.

Question: There is one specific Rolling Stone issue which I would like to read, not necessarily own it. Can anyone help me with this? I don't want to pay for a subscription for one article.

Answer: A while back Google Play archived all of Rolling Stone Magazine issues. You can try that. Or an extensive search for the particular article as it may have been reprinted somewhere. I also understand you can pay for one month to read all archived issues through Rolling Stone.

Question: How can I get the back issues of Rolling Stone Magazine?

Answer: Try Google Play Newsstand, as Rolling Stone made their archive (plus current) magazines available a couple of years ago. You'll need to download the app. I believe Goodreads makes them available as well.

Question: Is the special edition 911 issue valuable?

Answer: Not in terms of money. You can find it available on Amazon starting at $4.00.

Question: What’s the value of a John Lennon magazine?

Answer: Which issue? John Lennon was on the cover of the Rolling Stone Magazine at least 30+ times. The most valuable is the original first issue.

Do you collect "Rolling Stone" magazines? Or have a favorite issue?

TL Stahling (author) from US on May 12, 2019:

If you subscribed, then you probably have a mailing label on them...? It also depends on what condition they are in. If you were going to sell them, it would probably be better to sell them as a collection rather than single issues. I haven't researched prices for a while on 2000 to current; however, I usually suggest checking eBay (advanced search for completed sales). I also suggest selling them when there are no other issues available. Thereby not having competition. Good luck.

Tommie Ingram on May 11, 2019:

I subscribed in 2000 and i have approximately 150 magazines what might that be worth?

TL Stahling (author) from US on April 21, 2019:

It all depends on the condition, and what someone is willing to pay for it. You can research eBay and see what they've sold for in the past, and if there are any up for sale now. If you want to sell yours, be sure to wait until there are no available copies for sale at that moment - that way it will be more in demand.

Shila on April 20, 2019:

What is the first issue valued at?

KAREN on January 10, 2019:

I have a very clean copy of Rolling Stone # 999 May 4 2006 The contents include:

The Worst President in History

Pearl Jam

Confessions of Nick Lachey

Casualty of War

Springsteens Latest

Any interest in. buying??

TL Stahling (author) from US on August 02, 2018:

Want to add about finding a particular article in an archived Rolling Stone Magazine. We often forget about the library. That may be a great source for free.

james on June 19, 2018:

Thank you TL for your comments. Would you know yourself or someone else who could value it for me. Thx JC

TL Stahling (author) from US on June 14, 2018:

Others have shared with me that they have a 1st Edition Rolling Stone - but none have ever mentioned Jann Wenner's signature on it. That is really exciting.

The first editions were tabloid-like and it would be natural to have been folded. A slight crease may keep it from being "Mint" but if that's the only "flaw," then I would consider it "Near Mint."

Thanks for sharing!

james on June 07, 2018:

I have a copy of a 1st edition Rolling Stone signed by Jann Wenner in good condition. Has a slight crease from being folded in half but otherwise its in very good condition. Thx JC

Paula on June 03, 2018:


I have a collection of Rollingstone magazines from the early 90’s. All are in good to mint condition. I also have a few movie posters in mint condition.

Does anyone purchase such items? Can you recommend someone who does as I’m looking to unload them.

TL Stahling (author) from US on April 23, 2018:

I get a lot of questions regarding the value of various issues of the Rolling Stones Magazines. The value depends on different variables. The condition is very important (yellowing, frayed edges, etc.). If there's an address label on it, or not - and what someone is willing to pay for it - is the bottom line. It is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

You can do some quick research online. I find that ebay will give you an answer on approximate market value - what it has sold for in the past.

If you were wanting to sell a particular issue, you could test the market with an auction, but have a reserve on it. To get a higher price, place the auction at a time when there are no other such issues available.

Hope that helps. Toni

TL Stahling (author) from US on December 24, 2017:

Wow! That's a great find. Condition does mean everything. Keep in mind there was an exact reprint of it in 1986. I believe you can also check on Page 2 to see if it's a reprint. Otherwise, I believe Pawn Stars bought one for $300 a few years back. Again, it's worth what someone will pay for it. But it's hard to find, and a collector may pay $300 - $500. Good Luck.

Mikki on December 14, 2017:

I found a copy of the first Rolling Stones magazine volume 1 No. 1. Is it worth anything? It's in great condition. A little yellow due to its age.

TL Stahling (author) from US on November 25, 2017:

Different issues have different value. As a collector, myself, I find that condition is very important; if there's a mailing label on it or not, and what someone is willing to pay for it. If you're ready to sell your collection, check out ebay for "market price." Sometimes bundling the whole collection or a couple of them together (a valuable one with various less value) will help you sell out your collection. I've kept mine because every now and then, I love reading the old interviews.

Belinda on November 23, 2017:

I was wonder if Rolling Stone magazine are worth anything. I have 1998-2001