- The Washington Times - Monday, August 16, 2004

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Miller Brewing is celebrating the “50th Anniversary of Rock ‘n’ Roll” with eight commemorative beer cans that feature Rolling Stone magazine cover shots of Elvis Presley, Blondie and others.

What’s missing, some say, is a black artist.

Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University, called the absence “beyond conspicuous.”

“It would be like doing a set of cans of six great Impressionist painters and not including any French people on it,” he said. “It leaves out an enormous amount.”

The promotion, which ties rock ‘n’ roll’s anniversary to Mr. Presley’s debut at Sun Studios, also depicts Alice Cooper, Jon Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Willie Nelson, as well as the guitars of Eric Clapton and Joe Walsh, on cans being issued this summer by the brewer and the magazine.

Gary Armstrong, chief marketing officer for Rolling Stone publisher Wenner Media, said race wasn’t a consideration when choosing the artists.

“We didn’t even consciously think pro or con, the same way that the only woman on there is Blondie. We just went with the people that we thought were appropriate,” he said. “We went through [the covers] and said these people we don’t think are appropriate, or wouldn’t appeal to Miller drinkers.”

Miller spokesman Scott Bussen said the company started with a broad wish list, but its choices were limited to Rolling Stone covers.

“I’m sure that our objective was to get as diverse a representation of musical acts,” he said.

Mr. Armstrong noted that Rolling Stone wasn’t around for the birth of rock ‘n’ roll — it debuted in 1967, years after many formative black artists of the genre emerged.

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