Did Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show ever make it to the cover of Rolling Stone?
In 1972, cartoonist and songwriter Shel Silverstein visited Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show in the studio with a question: would they like to be on the cover of Rolling Stone? Since they were struggling for a hit, they said absolutely, although they couldn’t imagine how he would manage the trick. Silverstein then proceeded to play them “The Cover of Rolling Stone,” a complaint of jaded rock stars who haven’t yet achieved their dream of appearing on the front page of this publication: “We got all the friends that money can buy, so we’ll never have to be alone / And we keep gettin’ richer but we can’t get our picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone.” Guitarist Rik Elswit remembered, “The dope being excellent, we were in no shape to really evaluate the song. So after we picked ourselves up off the floor and stifled most of the laughing, we went right about recording it.” About three hours later, they had recorded a hit single, which peaked at #6. In March 1973, the magazine did feature the band on the cover, albeit with a cartoon of just three of their seven members and the caption “What’s-Their-Names Make the Cover.”
Since the song’s lyrics had promised “gonna buy five copies for my mother,” three members of the band visited the Rolling Stone offices in San Francisco and demanded those five copies. “We were in full hippie regalia, with about thirty pounds of hair between the three of us,” Elswit said. “The receptionist didn’t know who we were or why we were there, and furthermore, didn’t much care. We were frostily informed that we could buy some from the dispenser machines downstairs. At that point, somebody came out of one of the offices, recognized us, and we all had a good laugh–except for the receptionist, who still didn’t care. They then produced exactly five copies, and we were escorted out to the street.”
(Excerpted from the 2006 book Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, published by Three Rivers Press, written by Gavin Edwards.)