Clay Aiken – “A Landmark Achievement”

In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine was a biweekly publication that covered music, politics and popular culture. It was founded in 1967 by Jann Wenner and Ralph J. Gleason.  In September of 2017, it was announced that Wenner sold Rolling Stone to another magazine family.

Making “the cover of the Rolling Stone” is a landmark achievement for music artists. Each issue used to reach close to 1.5 million people.

July 10, 2003 was the official date on the Rolling Stone Magazine that featured Clay Aiken on its cover. But, the magazine was available in the middle of June.

Many people were surprised when they heard that Rolling Stone was featuring Clay Aiken. His inclusion in this venerable magazine lent an air of acceptance not just to Clay but also to the concept of American Idol.

Another question asked was why Clay and not Ruben? Since Ruben was the winner of American Idol, it was a valid question and some Ruben fans were upset and rather vocal about their disappointment. However, Clay’s story was really about the “guy next door” who becomes famous and was a tale that America loved. Clay was entering his last year of college with the intention of becoming a teacher. Clay said that he really wanted to be on The Amazing Race and auditioned for American Idol so his friends would stop bugging him to enter the competition. The general public embraced the young man who seemed puzzled as to why people were so captivated by him.

In answering questions about the photo shoot for Rolling Stone, Clay said that the cover shoot for Rolling Stone magazine required 8 hours of work and numerous changes of clothing. He admitted that he was somewhat tricked by the photographer who asked him to put on the black shirt and to not button it all the way down. He didn’t understand why, but quickly understood when they turned on a fan. Clay admitted that he was surprised they chose the photo they did. He said that they only took about 2 photos of him in that shirt. “I don’t know why people get so excited about that picture.” he says incredulously, “It’s just me!


When a reporter asked Clay if he had bought a copy of Rolling Stone Magazine with his photo on the cover, he replied that he was too embarrassed to go in and buy it. He asked one of his friends to buy one for him. He said while laughing, “I couldn’t go in and say ‘Can I have a copy of me on a magazine?!”

Clay was recording his album in London when he talked by phone to WRAL radio about the Rolling Stone experience. He said he really didn’t understand the significance of all of this until Ruben explained it to him.

Clay’s fans swarmed the bookstores and newspaper stands for copies of the magazine and many fans turned to E-Bay as a source.

The article, written by Erik Hedegaard, was the first time that Clay opened up about his life before American Idol. The writer was thorough and asked many interesting questions and seemed impressed by Clay’s down to earth attitude. He was treated fairly and with respect.

Do you remember the article?

What was your favorite part?

Do you still have your copy of the magazine?

The following is a fun video of the Rolling Stone Photoshoot. Take a look!!

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7 thoughts on “Clay Aiken – “A Landmark Achievement”

  1. I do still have my copy of “Rolling Stone”! It is very special to me as is many other memorabilia of Clay. I loved reading the article of Clay letting us in on so much of his life – in such a general way – always being true to himself! Clay didn’t have to worry – he definitely had “the Look” and it is loved until this day!

    As a matter of fact, he has many looks – all good!

    Thank you CANN!

  2. Still have mine safely tucked away! Thank you CANN for sharing Clay memories with us! Everyone have a blessed Sunday!

  3. Thank you for the pictures and the video. I did not go out to buy the Rolling Stone magazine. I wish I did.Thank you for sharing.

  4. Yes I still have mine, It is put away along with other Clay Aiken memorabilia. I read it again every once in awhile. I would never get rid of it. Love the picture.

  5. I sure do have my copy of the Rolling Stone mag. with sexy Clay on the cover. Very good interview with Clay by Erik Hedegaard. Thanks for the video.

  6. Of course I still have my copy of Rolling Stone!! I don't remember seeing this video before so I really appreciated watching it today! Thanks so much for your wonderful newsletter each day!

  7. I did get the rolling stone magazine and I have apicture of clay also id never ever get rid of it and ido love the picture oh and one more thing I just watched the video

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