USA Today: article on Rolling Stone rock immortals

Posted 3/24/2004 10:08 PM Updated 3/25/2004 1:36 AM

Rock ‘n’ roll Immortals, beloved
By Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY

Buddy Holly, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain all died in their 20s, but they will live forever in the hearts and stereos of rock fans, according to Rolling Stone. (Related gallery: See the complete list of 50 Immortals from Rolling Stone magazine)

Check out our photo gallery to see where Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain ended up in Rolling Stone’s “Immortals” list.

They’re enshrined in “The Immortals,” the first of three special issues this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of rock ‘n’ roll. The magazine, which arrives on newsstands Friday, toasts the genre’s 50 greatest artists of all time in testimonials by such admirers as Lou Reed, Eddie Vedder, Tom Petty, Paul Simon and Marilyn Manson.

Votes were cast by industry honchos (BMG’s Clive Davis), movie figures (Quentin Tarantino), critics (MTV’s Kurt Loder) and a variety of colleagues, including Pete Townshend, Chuck D, Smokey Robinson, Dr. John, Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Carlos Santana, Bo Diddley, Neil Diamond and members of the Beastie Boys, Linkin Park and The Strokes.

A preview of the top 10 with excerpts from accompanying essays:

1. The Beatles. “Michael Jackson can sell records until the end of time, but he’ll never matter to people as much as The Beatles did.” (Elvis Costello)

2. Bob Dylan. “He wasn’t pussyfooting around on Like a Rolling Stone or Ballad of a Thin Man. This was the rebel rebelling against the rebellion.” (Robbie Robertson, Dylan’s former guitarist)

3. Elvis Presley. Out of Tupelo, Miss., and Memphis “came this green, sharkskin-suited girl chaser, wearing eye shadow — a trucker-dandy white boy who must have risked his hide to act so black and dress so gay.” (U2’s Bono)

4. The Rolling Stones. “If it wasn’t for them, I would have been a Soprano for real.” (Guitarist and Sopranos star Steven Van Zandt)

5. Chuck Berry. “That feeling of excitement in the pit of my stomach, in the hair on the back of my head: I got more of it from Chuck Berry than from anybody else.” (Joe Perry of Aerosmith)

6. Jimi Hendrix. “I will always try to attain that kind of control. … Who I am as a guitarist is defined by my failure to become Jimi Hendrix.” (John Mayer)

7. James Brown. His slot in 1964 concert film The TAMI Show “may be the single greatest rock ‘n’ roll performance ever captured on film.” (American Records’ Rick Rubin)

8. Little Richard “They called (rock) ‘voodoo music.’ They said that it would drive the kids insane. They said that it was just a flash in the pan — the same thing that they’re saying about the hip-hop today. Only it was worse back then because … I was the first black artist whose records the white kids were starting to buy. And the parents were really bitter about me.” (Little Richard)

9. Aretha Franklin. “No one could copy her. How could they? She’s all alone in her greatness.” (Jerry Wexler)

10. Ray Charles. “I always learn something listening to him. It’s music that set a tough standard.” (Van Morrison)

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