Guitar World Magazine Covers Gallery: Every Issue from 1980 to 1986
The year 1980 saw the tragic death of former Beatle John Lennon, the release of AC/DC's epic Back in Black and the launch of a relatively small New York City publisher's guitar-enthusiast magazine called Guitar World.
Although the magazine — which, back then, was published every other month — focused primarily on jazz, country, fusion and blues, it didn't take very long before it attracted a multitude of followers from all different styles who had few other literary resources to turn to.
Our very first cover star? Johnny Winter, who was "Rockin' Better Than Ever!" in 1980.
Below, check out a photo gallery of every Guitar World magazine cover from 1980 to 1986. It's the first in a series of similar galleries.
Before you dive in, who do you think appears on the most Guitar World covers during our first six years? Hint: He (Yes, it's a he) most recently appeared on two covers in 2012 — April and August (And it's not Stevie Ray Vaughan).
Enjoy! The next gallery is coming soon!
NOTE: Remember, you can click on each photo to take a closer look.
SEPTEMBER 1985: GW's fifth anniversary issue featured our first posthumous cover artist. It was only a matter of time before Jimi Hendrix would be featured on the cover. That it coincided with the magazine's fifth birthday was apt; a celebratory cover ought to feature the most celebrated guitarist of all time.
JULY 1985: By 1985, Eddie Van Halen had become a regular staple on the covers of GW. In this, his fourth appearance, Van Halen remarked on his marriage to Valerie Bertinelli and how he would feel if he had a son or daughter who would one day want to follow in his footsteps.
MAY 1985: Well before "Jump, Jive and Wail" landed him at the forefront of the '90s swing revival, Brian Setzer's work with Stray Cats made him an established master of rockabilly guitar. By 1985, however, Stray Cats were no more, and Setzer was preparing to record his first solo album, The Knife Feels Like Justice.
MARCH 1985: Being a true rock journeyman, by 1985 Ron Wood had seen it all. He'd hung around with Hendrix, taken on bass in the Jeff Beck Group and was made an official member of the Stones nine years earlier. In our March issue, Wood talked about stealing his first bass and how the Jeff Beck Group came to its abrupt end.
JANUARY 1985: Jeff Beck was months away from releasing Flash when he made his second cover appearance on GW. Flash would eventually go on to win Beck a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental performance, but not before our January issue gave readers a peak into the iconic guitarist's recording process.
NOVEMBER 1984: In 1982 when Kevin DuBrow reformed Quiet Riot, there were big shoes to be filled in the guitar spot formerly held by Randy Rhoads. Those shoes were aptly filled by Carlos Cavazo, who by '84 had made quite a name for himself following the success of '83's Metal Health. In GW's final issue of the year, Cavazo talked of his new-found success and the joys of getting paid big money to play guitar.
SEPTEMBER 1984: Elliot Easton could be taken for granted as an oft-overlooked member of the Cars. Between leader Ric Ocasek's song-crafting and singer/bassist Ben Orr's stark vocals, it was easy to forget Easton laid down some of the most dynamic and melodic solos of the Eighties. In the September issue, Easton reflected on the songwriting process and his idea of songs being like "little movies."
MAY 1984: ZZ Top were riding high on the success of the previous year's Eliminator album, but guitarist Billy Gibbons hadn't forgotten his roots or his early days in the business. Gibbons spent much of his interview on his 1968 supporting gig for Jimi Hendrix and the late electric guitar pioneer's influence on Texan.
JULY 1984: Screaming for Vengeance had been 1982's big success for Judas Priest. In 1984 the metal gods followed up with Defenders of the Faith. Though not as popular as their previous album, it did catch the ire of the rising PRMC and also inspired the name of a future GW section. Thanks, guys!
JANUARY 1984: GW readers couldn't get enough of Eddie in 1984, and Van Halen took care of their fans well that year with the successful 1984. Ed made no apologies as he anticipated possible backlash for the album's heavy synth sound. "I've been getting into keyboards lately. If people don't like it, that's too bad."
MARCH 1984: It's ironic that while AC/DC are known for huge, ear-drum-crushing shows, guitarist Angus Young is a rather soft-spoken and humble man. In Guitar World's March '84 issue, Young commented on the silliness he found in his much-lauded solo work. "Poor people. You'd think they'd have something better to do. I mean, there's a lot of comedy on TV worth watching."
NOVEMBER 1983: For the last issue of 1983, Who guitarist Pete Townshend looked back on his wild days leading one of the world's most explosive bands. John Swenson even got the dirt on Townshend's famous windmill move: "The first time I swung my arm was after seeing Keith Richards do it the night before. But he must have just done it that one time and never did it again, so it developed into my trademark."
JULY 1983: By early 1983, the Dixie Dregs were no more, but rock-fusion virtuoso Steve Morse still had much to talk about. He discussed with Bill Milkowski his thoughts on the state of guitar playing, the gear he loves and his Georgia farm.
SEPTEMBER 1983: The guys on stage may be cool, but true players know it's the session guys who are the real deal. In the late Seventies and Eighties, Steve Lukather was the session guy, having played on some of the era's biggest hits, such as "Beat It" by Michael Jackson, "Stand Back" by Stevie Nicks and Don Henley's I Can't Stand Still album.
MAY 1983: By 1983 Jaco Pastorius was two years out of Weather Report, the band that brought him acclaim, and focusing on his solo career. Many considered him to be the best bass player in the world, but sadly he had begun showing signs of mental deterioration. In the coming years, Pastorius would lose his wife, his home and his life in a violent altercation four years after this Guitar Word cover story.
MARCH 1983: You're not much of a guitar magazine if you don't acknowledge guitar inventor, recording innovator and master musician Les Paul. GW writer Peter Mangaziol was fortunate enough to interview Paul at his home in New Jersey, which was described as a guitar tinkerer's playground.
JANUARY 1983: Jim Morrison might have been the dominant voice of the Doors, but Robby Krieger was the reserved architect, penning such hits as "Love Me Two Times" and "Light My Fire." The guitarist revealed this and more about life in the Doors to Tom Bradley in the first Guitar World cover story of 1983.
NOVEMBER 1982: He opened 1981 and closed 1982 for GW. There was no denying Van Halen had become an irresistible force to be reckoned with by 1982, thanks in no small part to Diver Down and its hits "(Oh) Pretty Woman" and "Dancing in the Street."
SEPTEMBER 1982: It's difficult to separate Steve Howe from his enduring presence as the lead guitarist for Yes. But in 1982, Howe was riding high on the success of his supergroup, Asia, which had released its eponymous debut album that included the hit song "Heat of the Moment."
JULY 1982: Sting breaks the six-string barrier and becomes the first, and one of the fewest, bassists to grace a cover of Guitar World.
MAY 1982: Prior to his interview, Adrian Belew had worked with Frank Zappa and since grown an impressive resume of artist collaborations, including David Bowie, King Crimson and Talking Heads. Guitar World dubbed him the "World's Premier Electric Guitarist."
MARCH 1982: Although he had boycotted print interviews at the time, Frank Zappa agreed to sit down with GW writer John Swenson after his perennial Pumpkin Day concert celebration in New York. The late guitarist talked among other things about directing a band, funding his ambitious music aspirations and a young guitarist he'd acquired by the name of Steve Vai.
JANUARY 1982: The successful Escape album quelled no fire in guitarist Neal Schon. Although Escape generated three top-10 hits for Journey, critics were of mixed enthusiasm. Schon told GW in the year's debut issue, "Columnists and reviewers have their heads shoved so far up their asses that they can't even see straight." Ouch!
SEPTEMBER 1981: Although Jeff Beck firmly rejected the "guitar superstar" label, he did make his first Guitar World cover appearance with the September 1981 issue.
NOVEMBER 1981: The year ended with a detailed axology of Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson's gear. At the time, Lifeson and the other members of Rush were on tour in support of their phenomenally successful Moving Pictures album.
MAY 1981: Andy Summers discusses The Police and their effect on making reggae music more mainstream.
JULY 1981: Jazz, fusion and blues still reign in the July '81 issue, with features on John Lee Hooker and Charlie Christian and a cover story on John McLaughlin.
MARCH 1981: Chrissie Hynde became the first woman to be featured on the cover of Guitar World. Inside, she dished on dealing with The Pretenders' sudden rise to fame.
NOVEMBER 1980: In line with the first two issues, Guitar World's last publication of 1980 continued its jazz-blues theme, featuring young fusion player Al DiMeola.
JANUARY 1981: Guitar World's January 1981 cover was already asking if Eddie Van Halen was the World's Greatest Guitarist. At that point, the 23-year-old had made so many waves in the music world that his talent was impossible to ignore. This issue began Van Halen's long and fruitful relationship with the magazine.
JULY 1980: Johnny Winter graces the cover of Guitar World's premiere issue. Additional stories include an interview with then-rising rocker George Thorogood and a list of the 50 best guitar records ever made.
SEPTEMBER 1980: Pat Metheny was a jazz wunderkind when he first appeared in Guitar World. The second issue also featured Joe Perry's thoughts on leaving Aerosmith and the songwriting tricks of Kenny Loggins .
NOVEMBER 1985: In his first cover story with GW, Stevie Ray Vaughan opened up about his tumultuous battle with drugs and alcohol. Vaughan was still fighting an uphill battle at the time, but would be clean and sober by his next cover appearance almost three years later.
JANUARY 1986: Yngwie Malmsteen had appeared in Guitar World before, but this was his first cover spot. The Swedish speedster discussed both of his oft-aggrandized characteristics: his blazing speed and unwavering self-assurance.
MARCH 1986: The Rolling Stones released their 20th album, Dirty Work, in March. Unfortunately, Keith Richard's then-acrimonious relationship with Mick Jagger was reflected in the recording and the LP was critically dismissed as one of the Stones' worst. But Richards had an endless treasure-trove of material to discuss with writer Gene Santoro, including "Satisfaction" and "Start Me Up."
MAY 1986: After cutting 1986's Whiplash Smile with Billy Idol, Steve Stevens had a lot to smile about. Riding high on the success of 1983's Rebel Yell, Stevens had established himself as one of rock guitar's premier players. He parted ways with Idol soon after recording Whiplash Smile and went solo. Maybe not the best move, but Stevens did get to record that awesome theme song to Top Gun.
JULY 1986: Much as today, in 1986 it was well understood that Jimmy Page embodied everything there was about being a guitar hero. His was the template most of the day's young players had followed, but few could replicate. Hardly enough of Page's influence could fit into one feature, so Guitar World gave him the whole issue. Fans did not seem to mind.
SEPTEMBER 1986: By now readers could expect to see Eddie's face on at least one issue per year of Guitar World. The man kept busy, so there was always something to talk about. In 1986 Van Halen found a new singer in Sammy Hagar and Ed was more than pleased to share his thoughts and elation on working with the Red Rocker.
NOVEMBER 1986: Take a good look: that's Billy without sunglasses. Ironic considering how bright things were for ZZ Top in 1986. The tour for the previous year's Afterburner album was one of their most extensive, propelled by that record's multiple hit singles. GW caught Gibbons during that tour and talked about the recording of Afterburner, which Gibbons remarked was inspired somewhat by last month's coverman: Eddie Van Halen.