Rolling Stone Australia is the Australian edition of the United States' Rolling Stone magazine devoted to music, politics, and popular culture, published monthly. The Australian version of Rolling Stone was initially published in 1970 as a supplement in Revolution magazine published by Monash University student Phillip Frazer. It was launched as a fully fledged magazine in 1972 by Frazer and is the longest surviving international edition of Rolling Stone.
The Australian version of Rolling Stone launched in May 1970 as a supplement in Revolution, a counter-culture magazine edited and published by Phillip Frazer in Melbourne as an offshoot of his teen-based pop newspaper Go-Set. Go-Set introduced a counter-culture supplement called Core on 13 December 1969, edited by Ed Nimmervoll who had worked on Go-Set since 1966. Frazer soon decided that the "Core" material deserved a stand-alone publication for older readers, and on 1 May 1970, Go-Set Publications launched the tabloid Revolution, co-edited by Frazer and Jon Hawkes. From its fourth issue onward Revolution included a supplement of Rolling Stone pages under an agreement Frazer made with its Californian owner and publisher Jann Wenner. In August 1971 Revolution became High Times(before the US magazine of that name), which featured Australian underground cartoons curated by co-editors Pat Woolley and Macy McFarland. Frazer left Go-Set and High Times early in 1972 and, with his business partner Geoff Watson, launched the Australian Rolling Stone as a fully fledged magazine, five years after the flagship started in the United States. Rolling Stone Australia was published fortnightly, devoted to music, politics, and popular culture, with a few local articles supplementing the major features from the parent magazine. In August 1972 Frazer launched an Australian counter-culture magazine The Digger which was published fortnightly, then monthly, until December 1975, when Frazer left Australia for the United States.
The first edition [of "Rolling Stone"] I saw was just so quirky. It was basically a tabloid format, A3-sized, folded so that it looked the size of an A4 page. It was on newsprint and because it was folded you could have the huge image on the front cover. It was very simple, it was just the essence of hipness
In 1974, Frazer sold the license to a group of journalists led by former Financial Review writer Paul Gardiner, with Jane Mathieson and Paul Comrie-Thompson. The first Australian act on the cover was Skyhooks in 1976, who reportedly hated the photo, but it did mark a broadening recognition of local acts in the magazine. Together Gardiner, Mathieson and Comrie-Thompson built Rolling Stone Australia up as a major player in terms of circulation, shifting about 35,000 copies each fortnight. Gardiner and his wife Mathieson were in control until 1987, when they too pulled out amid mounting debts and American indifference.
After remaining dormant for six months, Phillip Keir acquired the rights to publish it in 1987 in partnership with his wife Lisa-Belle Furhagen and his friend Toby Creswell. The three university friends having virtually no publishing experience decided to pool their money and buy the license from the Americans. Creswell and Keir were old friends dating back to their school days at Sydney Grammar School, whilst Keir and Furhagen were married. In 1992 when the friendship fell out and the marriage broke up, Keir retained the magazine, which became the flagship title of Next Media Pty Ltd. The following year Creswell and Furhagen started the publishing company Terraplane Press/Terraplanet and launched Juice in direct competition to Rolling Stone. Kathy Bail took over the magazine as Editor, and writer Clinton Walker was the only contributor to traverse both regimes.
Australian Rolling Stone celebrated its 25th year with a special collector's edition in May 1998, and at that time the publishers claimed the current circulation was around 40,000. In 2008 Next Media Pty Ltd was purchased by Worseley Media, in a deal that saw ACP Magazines acquire Rolling Stone magazine in exchange for ACP titles Tracks and Waves. A few months later, ACP relaunched Rolling Stone, with a new look and size.
Year after year, Rolling Stone Australia has made me proud. They have executed the Rolling Stone mission with style, intelligence and energy. My hat is off to everyone who has contributed to this success over the years and I look forward to even greater years to come.
In 2008 the magazine averaged sales of 27,051 copies a month, down from 29,372 the year before and about 40,000 at the time of its 30th anniversary issue six years previous. Its average readership in March 2008 was 301,000, compared with 296,000 a year earlier; the readership had peaked in December 1994 at 392,000.
ACP was acquired by Bauer Media Group in 2012 and in 2013 editor Matt Coyte took over the franchise through his company Paper Riot Pty Ltd.
In July, 2014 Rolling Stone Australia launched its own independent website
The Australian version is the longest surviving international edition of Rolling Stone magazine.