Photo Gallery: Guitar World Magazine Covers Through the Years — 1986
It was a healthy mix of old and new for Guitar World in 1986.
Billy Gibbons and Edward Van Halen were familiar faces, but readers had yet to see the legendary likenesses of Keith Richards or Jimmy Page on a Guitar World cover. They were in for a particular treat with the July issue, which focused exclusively on Page.
There was also some rookie talent that made its way onto the front page. Yngwie Malmsteen had been making big -- and controversial -- waves in the recording industry since his debut album Rising Force hit store shelves.
And Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens, a man apart from the L.A.-dominated shred-metal army, was dazzling audiences with his creative fretwork, but had already made quite a name for himself in the business as a versatile session player. Both got a chance to define themselves in their first cover stories with Guitar World.
The variety of cover artists clearly enticed readership as this was Guitar World's last six-issue year. Check out next week's gallery, 1987, when we made the big jump to eight issues per year.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.