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. Jann Wenner was still the magazine’s owner, editor and publisher then.
Making “the cover of the Rolling Stone” was 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?
Yes, I do still have my copy of Clay on the Rolling Stone Magazine – I haven’t read it in a while but it is safe with the rest of quite a bit of Clay memorabilia. Clay is a very humble person – one of the qualities that make him so likeable in my opinion. Happy Anniversary 0n 20 years of his audition on American Idol!
Thank you for all the pictures. I do not have that copy of the Rolling Stone magazine. I remember no copies were available. To hard to find. Happy Anniversary 20 years and still my favorite singer from AI. Thank you CANN.
I still have my copy in a trunk (yes a trunk but small) of all my Clay items: magazines, pictures, tickets to concerts, etc, Some of the happiest years of my life!