The Revolting Stone Cover:

How the Boston Bomber Became a Rock Star

By Ross Altman

Rolling Stone Bomber cover“That stupid sonofabitch looks so much like Bob Dylan I want to shoot him,” said my girlfriend, the first time she saw the photo of the Boston Bomber suspect—three months before it wound up on the cover of Rolling Stone. It first appeared in the New York Times. That’s when I heard her comment and it struck me as so funny and profound I wrote it down in my notebook—thinking I might use it someday.

That day has come, with the appearance of the same self-posed cell phone photograph on the cover of the most influential cultural weathervane we have—Rolling Stone magazine.

Now others are commenting that it looks like Jim Morrison of the Doors, but the critic on Larry Mantle’s drive-by talk show on KPCC this morning confirmed my girlfriend’s assessment—he thought it looked more like an old RS cover of Bob Dylan, from which there are many to choose.

Defenders of the most controversial cover in the magazine’s history point out that Time Magazine has had Hitler on the cover—and stores did not boycott the issue—as both Walgreen’s and CVS are now doing to Rolling Stone.

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John Hammond Blues Cruise
Sails Into McCabe’s

August 2, 2013 8:00 and 10:00pm

By Ross Altman

john hammondHeir to the Vanderbilt fortune, wealthy son of illustrious record producer John Hammond, raised in private schools and scion of privilege, no one could be less likely than John Hammond, Jr. to have met Robert Johnson at the Crossroads, where the famed King of the Delta Blues guitarist sold his soul to the devil. But there is more to his story than meets the eye: John Hammond, Jr. may have his illustrious father’s name, but he didn’t exactly grow up around the man who discovered Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. His parents were divorced and from a young age he saw his father only a few times a year.

For all practical purposes he fell in love with this proto-American art form on his own, when he happened to hear a record of blues-man Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall. That’s the album without the artist on the cover—just a bare stool, center stage, with a guitar leaning up against it to the side, and harmonica holder perched on top. It’s my favorite album cover of all time, and it must have sung to John Hammond, Jr. too, since he said it sealed his fate.

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