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SPIN’s 30 Years Told in 30 Stories: An Introduction

Thirty years ago, SPIN launched with a self-deprecating but sincere introduction from founder Bob Guccione Jr. “The world needs a lot of things before it needs more magazines,” he wrote. “However, I thought a lot of people might want SPIN, including myself.” And he was right. Over the past three decades, SPIN has proven that even in the face of paradigm shifts in the media and music industries — the decline of print, the record business bust, our own changes in-house (including Guccione’s departure in 1997, after selling the magazine) — that there is no shortage of people longing to read features, interviews and more from writers “with real excitement about music.”

In honor of SPIN’s 30th birthday — and after Guccione’s absence has reached the legal limit of 18 years — our founder is back for a six-month editorial residency. His main focus? Dusting off 30 of the finest stories published by SPIN, and repackaging them for the digital age. For far too long, some of the most electrifying work done here has been allowed to crinkle and yellow on a shelf; to remedy that, we’ll be rolling out a classic piece from the archives every Thursday throughout the rest of 2015.

We begin this campaign today, with a lengthy 1985 feature on Ike Turner, simply titled “Ike’s Story.” The story, in which writer Ed Kiersh tracked down Turner destitute on the streets of Los Angeles, helped set the tone for SPIN. “Everyone else was talking about Tina,” Guccione says. “We were asking, ‘What happened to Ike?’” In the weeks to come, expect to find our controversial exposé on the Live Aid festival, the final interview Miles Davis did before his death in 1991, the first major American magazine article written on beloved Afrobeat visionary and political activist Fela Kuti, now-iconic early coverage of Nirvana, and much more.

Of course, this isn’t the first time SPIN has waxed nostalgic. In the past few months alone, we caught up with some of the artists behind our past picks for Album of the Year, counted down the 300 Best Albums of the Past 30 Years, and reminisced with a couple of former staffers. This also won’t be the last time SPIN will revisit the past fondly — we know that, and you know that. But a 30th birthday is a big one. It’s a time to reflect on great moments in the past, take stock of the present and look ahead to the future.

The following comes from a mission statement that appeared in the inaugural issue of SPIN. It means as much to this current staff as it did to the original writers and editors.

A confession: SPIN is imperfect. It’s rough-edged, restless, insatiably curious. A little aggressive, a little cocky. Youthfully uncompromising, but maturely flexible. Romantic — definitely! Irreverent — sure! Unpredictable — yes. Very alive.

Thanks for reading.