The Story Behind “The Cover of Rolling Stone” by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show
via Eagle Rock/YouTube
Satire of The Rock ‘n Roll Lifestyle
The song was written by American writer Shel Silverstein – he also penned Johnny Cash’s classic hit “A Boy Named Sue.”
“The Cover of ‘Rolling Stone'” is just one of the songs he wrote for Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show. It’s a parody of the success in the music industry and the rock ‘n roll lifestyle. It pokes fun at all the excesses and indulgence of rockstars.
After the song peaked at #6 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #5 on Cash Box, the Rolling Stone Magazine gave them what they wanted – kind of. The band did make the cover for the March 29, 1973 issue but instead of a photograph, Rolling Stone used a caricature image featuring just three of the seven members. The caption read, “What’s-Their-Names Make the Cover.”
BBC refused to play it because the “Rolling Stone” in the lyrics was considered advertisement. There was a myth that Dr. Hook re-recorded it as “The Cover of the Radio Times” but according to co-lead singer Dennis Locorriere: “Legend has it that we went into a studio and rerecorded 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. 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.”