Ok, so I was gone even longer this time, but for good reason. As I mentioned earlier, I was working on a 25-page research paper, An Analysis of Rolling Stone’s Coverage of Prince, 1978-2004.
It is completed, and I have submitted it to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). Every year, AEJMC holds a conference to discuss the latest mass communications research. If I am selected to present in August (in St. Louis), it will be a great honor and boost to my credibility as a Prince scholar. I will find out in May!
How did I write the paper?
I looked at EVERY Prince-related Rolling Stone article from 1978 to April 23, 2004, when he told Entertainment Weekly, “It took me four albums to get on the cover of Rolling Stone, now it takes artists only one. There should be rules for that kind of thing!”
I also had the honor of talking to five Rolling Stone writers who covered Prince: Anthony DeCurtis, Jim Henke, Tom Moon, David Browne and Robert McNamara.
What did I find?
Prince actually landed his first Rolling Stone cover after the release of his fifth album, 1999. The magazine was beginning to cover African American artists again, and making a shift from featuring aging legends to embracing the new, cutting-edge artists popular with the youth culture. Meanwhile, the magazine was paying increasing attention to him as he recorded, toured, built an audience, and finally had an outstanding commercial success. After that, it could justify putting him on the cover—not only was he a fresh talent, but he would be able to sell magazines.
By contrast, today’s music industry has changed to churn out more abrupt successes, and the magazine is often a reflection of that.
Overall, Prince has had a dynamic relationship with Rolling Stone. The magazine built him up to the status of its old heroes, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones during the 1980s and then criticized him for “mediocre” work in the 1990s.
Although Prince disagreed, the magazine appeared neutral regarding his struggle with Warner Bros.
Prince would eventually land the cover of Rolling Stone later in 2004 on May 27. His induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and successful tour reminded everyone of what he had accomplished.
I will post a link to the entire paper once I hear back from AEJMC, and, hopefully, develop a website of my music writing.
What about journalists’ thoughts on Prince’s spirituality?
I had some interesting disucssions with the Rolling Stone writers on that subject. Bits from those talks will be in one of the next few posts.
Happy to be back! Stay with me!