New York Times Magazine Rejects Rolling Stones on Tour Story in 1969 and It Becomes a Best-Selling E-Book Single 44 Years Later


From Thin Reads:

Back in 1969, 27-year-old freelance writer Michael Lydon scored a coveted assignment by The New York Times Magazine: go on the road for one month with the Rolling Stones as they toured America. He became part of the Stones’ road show as it rumbled across a divided country blighted by social upheaval and racial unrest. It was a dream assignment: Lydon had a front-row seat at the cultural revolution shaking the country with the world’s greatest rock and roll band. Better yet, he never paid for a hotel room or an airplane ticket; it was all picked up by the tour. When he returned to New York, he handed in a 100-page typewritten story expecting that it might be published over the course of two weeks. Instead, the magazine rejected it because of its length.

Lydon went on to have a successful career as a musician and book author, and eventually founded his own small publishing company Franklin Press in New York City. As the 50th anniversary of formation of the Rolling Stones neared in 2012, he got the idea of turning his long magazine article into an e-book single “The Rolling Stones Discover America.” His agent David Dunton submitted it to Kindle Singles editor David Blum and it was quickly accepted.

Thin Reads: Why do you think the Rolling Stones agreed to let you follow them for a whole month and essentially embed yourself with their tour?

Because they – and especially Mick Jagger – were very aware of the importance of publicity. They very savvy about show business, and how to become and remain top-level stars. I had an assignment from the New York Times, and that carried a lot of weight. Their day-to-day manager was Ronnie Schneider, a New Yorker, so he knew what getting a big piece in the New York Times Sunday magazine could do in legitimizing the band. Plus Jagger was negotiating with Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records to become the Stones’ new label, and my guess is that he thought Times coverage would give him added clout.

Continue reading the rest of the story on Thin Reads and you can buy the book here.