‘Gonna see my picture on the cover
Canadians are few and far between on Rolling Stone’s front pages
For over 40 years, the cover of Rolling Stone magazine has been the epitome of American musical and cultural success.
So when Saskatoon’s The Sheepdogs beat out 15 American groups in the “Choose Your Cover” contest this past August and landed on the front page of the popular publication (the first unsigned at the time) band to do so – it was a big deal.
After all, Canada has had a rather cold relationship with Rolling Stone since its launch in 1967, at least if you look at the number of times celebs from our homeland have been deemed worthy for a cover.
All told, Canadians — both musicians and actors — have appeared on the cover in one form or another 46 times.
Considering Rolling Stone just put out its 1,141st issue this week, that accounts for a paltry four per cent of all Rolling Stone covers that feature a little Canuck flavour. And upon closer examination, it becomes clear that the majority of our own who have grabbed that brass ring have only been able to do so by either disguising the influence of their homeland in their music, or by accompanying the rest of their (mostly American) movie or TV show casts onto the front page.
Our national debut on the cover of Rolling Stone was slightly shorthanded, yet still holds significance: when The Band — who were four-fifths Canadian — graced the cover of RS #16 in 1968, we couldn’t even see their faces. Not only that, but you
wouldn’t be able to tell where they came from anyways. The Band was responsible for the Great Americana Boom of the late ‘60s tha
t almost made Eric Clapton quit the blues, and also backed one of Rolling Stone’s mainstays, Bob Dylan, during his tumultuous
electric tour in ’66.
From there, we were forced to rely on only two Canucks to represent us during the
rest of the ‘60s and throughout the
1970s: Joni Mitchell, who made appearances in 1969 and 1979 before re-emerging in retrospective issues in 1999 and 2005; and Neil Young, who stands as the most featured Canadian on Rolling Stone, appearing first with Crosby, Stills and Nash in 1974 and then in illustrated form for 1975 and 1979 covers, before finally appearing in human form for covers in 1988, 1993 and 2006. I
n the 1970s, one other Canadian was able to grace the front page: Dan Ackroyd, along with John Belushi, posing as The Blues Brothers in early 1979.
In the 1980s, Canadians were extremely infrequent, with only Michael J. Fox, who with two covers was at the height of his fame
thanks to the Back to the Future film franchise. Sebastian Bach of Skid Row contributed new Canadiana, as Young got his aforementioned shot in ’88 and Ackroyd returned in ’89, this time with his fellow Ghostbusters castmates. Bryan Adams found himself
on a cover, but only in a collage celebrating the artists of Live Aid, and his photo was in the bottom right corner (if you read the cover left to right, line by line, Adams was the footnote).
For the 1990s and 2000s, Canadian actors found themselves increasingly in the Ackroyd role: being the sole Canuck in an American movie or television series cast. There was Jason Priestley of Beverley Hills 90210 (1992); Mike Myers of Wayne’s World (1992, although he’d have a solo shot as Austin Powers in 1997); Matthew Perry of Friends (1995); Cory Monteith of Glee (2010);
and Anna Paquin of True Blood (2010). Solo shots were afforded to Jim Carrey in 1995, Pamela Anderson in 1996, Neve Campbell in 1997, Keanu Reeves as well as Tom Green in 2000, and Evangeline Lilly in 2005. Martin Short was granted a part of a foldout cover profiling comedians, yet his part was tucked pretty deep in there. No respect.
On the music side, Alanis Morissette dominated the 1990s with two covers and two more inclusions in retrospective collages, returning (on the back half) for a foldout “Women of Rock” cover in 2002. Shania Twain got one cover each for the ‘90s and ‘00s, and even Sarah McLachlan got face time with the Rolling Stone cameras in 1997. Rufus Wainwright got on there in the 2000s, but only as part of a “Children of Rock” group shot that featured the spawn of Keith Richards and John Lennon, among others; plus, he was delegated to the back half of the foldout (what is it with that?). And our most recent Canadian to grace the cover of Rolling Stone was, of course, Justin Bieber just this past March.
While we can bemoan the lack of Canadian artists on the Rolling Stone cover today
Really, you couldn’t give Arcade Fire a shot
(even when they won that Grammy?), we can still hold our heads high as contributors to American popular culture, no matter how slight. The proof lies in the mammoth 3D collage cover for Rolling Stone’s 1000th issue, released in 2006, which featured a total of five Canadians in amongst the gargantuan crowd of icons: Robbie Robertson of The Band, Pamela Anderson, Mike Myers (as Wayne Campbell), Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. That may not be a lot, but it sure is something to be proud of.