Seldom mentioned in the pantheon of great New Jersey bands — perhaps unfairly — Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show formed in the Union City area in the late ’60s (though several members were relocated Southerners) and had an impressive string of hits from 1971 to 1982, including “Sylvia’s Mother,” “Sharing the Night Together” and “Only Sixteen.”
They actually made the Top 40 a total of 10 times — most memorably, with 1972’s “The Cover of ‘Rolling Stone,’ ” which had goofy, Shel Silverstein-written lyrics (“We sing about beauty and we sing about truth/At $10,000 a show”) but, given Rolling Stone’s exalted place in the media landscape of the day, expressed something every rock musician of the era must have felt, to some degree.
Naturally, when the song became a big hit, Rolling Stone fulfilled their dream, with a colorful, cartoonish portrait and the headline, “What’s-Their-Names Make the Cover.”
Check out an extremely loose performance of the song, below.
By the way, just as there is no Hootie in Hootie and the Blowfish, there is no Dr. Hook in Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, though many people assumed that was singer Ray Sawyer’s stage name, since he started wearing an eye patch after being injured in a 1967 car accident.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.