Rolling Stone was founded in 1967 in San Francisco by a music critic and his 21-year-old protégé, a Berkeley dropout who borrowed money from his future in-laws to get it off the ground. For decades, Rolling Stone gripped tight to the beliefs and cultural blinders of that boomer beginning. Most of its rocker heroes from that Haight-Ashbury autumn were white and male, and those were the kind of people who stayed center stage at Rolling Stone. The misogyny and racism of that founding era lingered longer. 

But there’s a second strain in Rolling Stone’s DNA. The magazine helped launch Bob Marley into global superstardom, championed Jimi Hendrix and Diana Ross, stood up for hip-hop in the early Nineties, when politicians tried to carpet-bomb it, and put Tina Turner on the cover of its second issue ever. And as my colleague Althea Legaspi chronicles, there were groundbreaking women journalists fighting through the he-man chest beating, from culture-shaking stories by Robin Green and Ellen Willis to Annie Leibovitz’s iconic portraits. It’s that second strain of Rolling Stone that became the dominant one in the late 2010s. It’s that second strain I’ve tried to champion since I became editor-in-chief in 2021.

We’ve got work to do. Tomorrow, we unveil our 2023 Musicians on Musicians package. We’ve been fortunate to assemble an exciting group of artists for this year’s celebration of intergenerational virtuosity. Check out our covers over the past couple of years: Olivia Rodrigo and Adele, Blackpink and boygenius, Megan Thee Stallion and Rosalía, Bad Bunny and Pusha T. Each one of them master practitioners of their craft, brilliant storytellers, gold medalists in this Olympics of art and sound and emotion. Celebrating them is not only an honor. It’s a fulfillment of Rolling Stone’s mission, to be a champion of music’s very best, to be the bible of pop culture worldwide.


But Rolling Stone can’t earn that title with accolades alone. We also have to use our ability to get backstage and behind the velvet rope to tell you what’s really going on there, even if — especially if — it’s something ugly. This is part of Rolling Stone’s history too, digging into music’s darker moments, from Altamont to Astroworld. And it’s absolutely central to today’s Rolling Stone, shining a light on the culture industry’s bad actors and toxic environments, particularly when they’ve been heralded in our pages before. Because all of this proximity to celebrity and power that we’ve built up over the decades? It’s meaningless if it can’t be used to tell the raw, uncensored truth. 

Pop culture has changed, too. It’s more global, more diffuse, more diverse, and, in many ways, more surprising than ever before. You hear it in the rise of música Mexicana and K-pop, Afrobeats, and back-to-the-guitar country. You see it, when someone goes from obscure YouTuber to international sensation in a matter of weeks. You can feel it, when our biggest stars transition from music to politics to sports to movies to fashion and back again. Today’s pop-culture fans are faster, unbothered by genre or hierarchy, and won’t be told to step aside, wait their turn, or keep their mouths shut. They won’t stand there watching while their planet burns or their rights are taken away. They deserve an outlet that’s just as fierce. They need a place where the goal is to deliver journalism that’s iconic, intimate, ambitious, exclusive, and, above all, fearless. If we do our jobs right, I hope that’s what they’ll see in today’s Rolling Stone