The Cover of "Rolling Stone"

"The Cover of 'Rolling Stone'" is a song written by Shel Silverstein and first recorded by American rock group Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show. Produced by Ron Haffkine and released in 1972, it was the band's third single and peaked at No. 6 on the U.S. pop chart for two weeks on March 17–24, 1973. The song satirically laments that the band had not appeared on the cover of the Rolling Stone, a magazine that focuses on music, politics, and popular culture. The song's success led to the band appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1973, albeit in caricature.

"The Cover of 'Rolling Stone'"
Single by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show
from the album Sloppy Seconds
B-side"Queen of the Silver Dollar"
ReleasedOctober 26, 1972[1]
GenreSkiffle, pop rock, country rock,[2] comedy
Songwriter(s)Shel Silverstein
Producer(s)Ron Haffkine
Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show singles chronology
"Carry Me, Carrie"
"The Cover of 'Rolling Stone'"
"Roland the Roadie and Gertrude the Groupie"

History and description

From left to right: Dennis Locorriere, Billy Francis, and Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show on the March 29, 1973 cover of Rolling Stone in caricature.[3]

The song satirizes success in the music business; the narrator laments that his band, despite having the superficial attributes of successful rock stars (including drug usage, "teenage groupies, who'll do anything we say", and a frenetic guitar solo) has been unable to "get our picture/on the cover of the Rolling Stone".

As the song was riding high on the charts, the magazine finally acquiesced to Dr. Hook's request — after a fashion: the March 29, 1973, cover of Rolling Stone did indeed feature the band, but in caricature form rather than a photograph (and with only three of the band's seven members). Also, the group's name was not used; instead the caption read simply, "What's-Their-Names Make the Cover."[3]

BBC Radio refused to play the song, as it contained the name of a commercial publication (Rolling Stone) and could therefore be considered advertising. An urban legend states that the song was re-recorded by the band as "The Cover of the Radio Times", the weekly television and radio guide published by the BBC; however, this is disputed by Dennis Locorriere, Dr. Hook's co-lead singer. "Legend has it that we went into a studio and re-recorded the song. What actually happened was that a bunch of BBC disc jockeys went into a studio and shouted 'RADIO TIMES' over our original chorus," Locorriere said. "It's the same recording that we released but with the addition of their voices layered on top of ours. You can, however, still hear us singing 'Rolling Stone,' but way in the background, under their voices." The new version was rush-released in the UK, but did not find its way onto the charts there.[4] However the band's UK publicists took advantage of the BBC's uptight attitude by advertising the single in the UK music press as "the first banned single of 1973".

Chart performance

Cover versions

The song has been covered by various artists, including R. Stevie Moore on his 1987 album Teenage Spectacular; Poison on their 2000 album Crack a Smile... and More!; Sammy Kershaw on his 2010 album Better Than I Used to Be, with his version featuring Jamey Johnson; Black Francis on the album Twistable, Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein in 2010, and Jackyl on their 2012 studio album Best in Show. Canadian singer Corb Lund featured the song on his 2019 EP Cover Your Tracks in a duet with Hayes Carll.

Buck Owens and the Buckaroos parodied the song as "On the Cover of the Music City News" on the 1974 album It's A Monster's Holiday and the 1976 album Best of Buck Owens, Volume 6.

German comedian Mike Krüger covered and translated the song with small lyrical changes for his 1978 album Stau mal wieder, changing the title to "Auf der Hülle mit den Rolling Stones" (On the Cover with the Rolling Stones), lyrics implying he would like to have his photograph as an album cover for the Rolling Stones.

In 1987 Dutch band Bertus Staigerpaip released a parody: "De veurplaat van d'n Donald Duck" (the cover of the Donald Duck Weekblad - a Dutch comic magazine).

Phish covered the song at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California on 2/14/03[13] The performance foreshadowed their actual appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone’s March 3, 2003 issue.[14][15]

In popular culture

The song was featured in the 2000 film Almost Famous, sung by the characters in the film.[16]

See also


  1. "Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show - the Cover of "Rolling Stone"".
  2. "Soft Rock | Significant Albums, Artists and Songs". AllMusic. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  3. "1973 Rolling Stone Covers". Rolling Stone. June 22, 2004.
  4. Jerry Osborne. "Mr. Music". Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  5. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  6. RPM Top Singles, April 14, 1973
  7. " – Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show – The Cover Of 'Rolling Stone'" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  8. Flavour of New Zealand, 21 May 1973
  9. "Dr Hook Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  10. "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, March 31, 1973". Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  11. Top 100 Singles of 1973 in Canada
  12. "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 29, 1972". Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  13. STEVE APPLEFORD (February 17, 2003). "Phish feels a bit like a one-man band". Los Angeles Times. Phish was also capable of moving re-creations of old songs, from a version early Friday of “Cover of the Rolling Stone” (originally by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show) and an emotional, near-perfect take on the Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup,” which closed the concert.
  14. "Feb 14, 2003 Setlist -". Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  15. "The Cover of 'Rolling Stone' History -". Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  16. "Music from Almost Famous". Archived from the original on May 15, 2015.