Dr. Hook: Cover of the Rolling Stone

It would have been 1973 when I was visiting an L.A. Radio Station, KROK maybe, when the Music Director (name lost to my mind long ago) held up the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show in a caricature, and a cover story by Cameron Crowe*, 16 at the time.

Like everyone else who walked in I cracked up, knowing that they had enjoyed a Top 10 Record the year before with the theme that they'd know they had made the Big Time when they appeared on the RS cover. The group who would later go by just, Dr. Hook, was made up of: Dennis Locorriere - vocals, guitar, bass, harmonica, Ray Sawyer - vocals, guitar, percussion, congas, maracas, (Ray had lost an eye and wore an eye-patch which led folks to believe he was "Captain Hook") Billy Francis - keyboards, George Cummings - lead and steel guitars, vocals and John "Jay" David on drums.

They were incredibly versatile, and their music was played on Top-40, Easy Listening, and Country Music radio, which was very rare at the time but sold a lot of records. But back to the Rolling Stone cover story, the boys cut the song as kind of a goof and it contained lyrics that made Label Chief Clive Davis nervous like, "We take all kind of pills to give us all kind of thrills" and "I got a freaky old lady named Cocaine Katy," but he rolled the dice and released it as it was.

As usual Clive's gut was right, the song was funny and the lyrics were given a pass. So far we've got a Million Selling Record but here's the rest of the story: Hook's manager, Ron Haffkine, who had pitched the band to Clive, went to visit Jann Wenner the Founder of RS and told him, "I’ve just given you guys the best commercial for this rag that you’ll ever get." Jann loved it and the rest is history.

Although Dr. Hook had quite a few singles on the charts, "The Cover of Rolling Stone" is what they're best remembered for. It was a perfect execution of a major promotional coup that took the group to a higher level. Here's a great video of the group singing "Cover of Rolling Stone" Live on the BBC in 1980 with excellent picture and sound. @therealdonrocks

*Fun Fact: Cameron Crowe turned his under-aged Rolling Stone adventures into "Almost Famous." - editor

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