ROLLING STONE: THE COVERS 1972 - 2010

Words - Karla O'Connor

Photos - J Forsyth

 Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, 35-37 Castella St Lilydale

This post is brought to you by the word: Iconic. And rightly so. The cover of Rolling Stone magazine is absolutely a cultural icon, graced by iconic figures, designed by iconic psychedelic artist Rick Griffin, photographed and illustrated by the eminent Annie Leibovitz and Ralph Steadman, many of these covers have come to define an era.

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So if it’s a historical trip back in time that you’re after, then you’ve got it with ‘Rolling Stone: The Covers 1972 – 2010.’ For this reason, it’s also fitting that the exhibition is being held at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum. It’s not just a showcasing of well-designed magazines; each cover tells a story of its own. Whether it is Kurt Cobain, Yoko Ono, Paul Keating, Janet Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, The Spice Girls or Jim Morrison, it’s also a chronological story of so much that has been the make up of popular culture over the past forty years.  

We Melbourne Arts Club folk headed out to Lilydale for a special evening viewing this past Thursday and on arrival our not-quite-winter-but-still-cold blues, the rain and the peak hour traffic frustration were overshadowed by the free wine, tasty canapés, and the always cool sound of Nirvana playing in the background. The crowd was a mix of all ages, who were cool, but not too cool to get in on some guitar hero action upstairs in The Studio, where you could also take the opportunity to check out some excellent rock photography from the likes of Kate Griffin and Kane Hibberd.

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Whether you believe the title for Rolling Stone was taken from the Muddy Waters song ‘Rollin’ Stone,’ or Bob Dylan’s ‘Like a Rollin’ Stone,’ it doesn’t really matter. What is on display here a magazine that was born out of the heartland of American counter-culture, that has offered designers and photographers (and journalists – Rolling Stone’s success is certainly also attributed to its quality journalism) a canvas to work on in a way that has seen the covers come to symbolise just as much as the superstars that adorn them.  But undoubtedly the coolest things about ‘Rolling Stone: The Covers,’ is the opportunity to take the journey back through pop culture and see how it has evolved over the decades.


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Rolling Stone: The Covers 1972 – 2010 runs until the 7th of July.

More details at www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au