Teen Magazines Of The '60s and '70s: Mad About The Boys!
Mickey Dolenz catches up on his reading with 'Tiger Beat's Official Monkee Spectacular' on the set of the television show 'The Monkees' in May 1967 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Magazines like 16, Teen Beat and Tiger Beat were fixtures of grocery-store checkout aisles and magazine racks of the '60s and '70s. From strategically placed magazine racks, the handsome and wholesome faces of The Monkees, The Beatles, Herman's Hermits, Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy, Leif Garrett and more stared at their young female fans, who had an insatiable hunger for inside knowledge of their celebrity crushes. Cluttered covers promised features on and interviews with dozens of heartthrobs of the music, TV and film scene. At the height of their popularity, these magazines practically flew off the shelves thanks to the access they offered young women to their favorite stars.
These magazines had interviews, gossip, and centerfold posters of the cutest boys of the day. Photos and mentions in the pages of teen magazines were part of the well-oiled celebrity-building machine, and for those who played ball, stardom awaited. For young women, longing for a personal connection with stars they might never meet in person, stacks of treasured teen magazines were the next best thing.
'Tiger Beat' Was A Major Influences On Girls In The '60s And '70s
Magazines targeting the teenage girl market have been around in the United States since 1944 when Seventeen magazine published its first issue. Seventeen was quite ahead of its time, though, as the concept of "teenagers" who have their own culture and purchasing power didn't gain momentum until the 1950s -- but when it did, publishers saw a goldmine. If these young girls could afford to buy '45s and albums and concert tickets, and had a limitless attention-span when it came to their favorite male actors and musicians, surely they'd buy magazines hyping these same subjects. And these young female fans did just that, as expected. Teen magazines were big business, and competition was intense.
The most popular was Tiger Beat. Founded in 1965, the magazine cemented the idea of the classic teen mag. There were softball interviews with celebrities, gossip articles, and cute guys on the cover. According to the founder of Tiger Beat, Charles Laufer, the magazine was filled with “guys in their 20s singing 'La La' songs to 13-year-old girls,” which is exactly what 13-year-old girls wanted. Well done, Charles.
There Was Another 'Beat' -- 'Teen Beat'
Teen Beat started up two years after Tiger Beat, and while it covered a lot of the same ground as its predecessor, its covers focused more on film and television starts than musicians. However, the most interesting of the teen magazines of the era was 16. Its first issue was published in 1957 with Elvis Presley on the cover.
'16' Was Edited By A Woman And Former Fangirl
Created by Gloria Stavers, 16 was one of the few teen magazines to be run by a woman. Stavers got her start as a model, and she started the magazine to cater to young women who she felt reminded her of herself at a young age. Artists who appeared on the cover of 16 throughout the '60s and '70s were just whom you might expect, including The Beatles, The Monkees, and Herman's Hermits. Tiger Beat, Teen Beat and 16 self-policed when it came to who was "appropriate" for their impressionable audiences. As groups got shaggier, more sexual or more scandalous, and less interested in playing the squeaky-clean publicity game, the teen mags became less interested in promoting them. Bands like The Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, and The Doors may have made early appearances, but eventually were more or less ignored.
The First 'Teen' Magazine Wasn't So Teenybopper
During Seventeen’s initial run, it tried a series of different tactics at reaching young ladies, but it was never as cotton candy sweet as many adults might think -- in comparison to Tiger Beat and 16, Seventeen was more of a junior version of a fashion-driven women's magazine like Vogue, Glamour or Cosmopolitan. In 1950 Seventeen published "And Summer Will Not Come Again,” the first short story by Sylvia Plath, which firmly plants the teen magazine in the world of literature. And instead of the constant obsession with young male celebrities, Seventeen offered a variety of journalistic material, including advice from experts and professionals, and a notable 1973 cover feature on "Today's Young Navajos."
A wave of similar magazines followed the success of Seventeen Magazine, but nothing hit quite like the still running journal. Seventeen proved the viability of a youth-focused magazine, but didn't descend into the "win-a-date-with-Ringo" fray.
David Cassidy Was So Popular That He Had Two Teen Magazines
For the biggest stars, there was no such thing as media saturation -- there was seemingly no limit to the amount of stories and pictures the rabid teen fan-verse could consume. Tiger Beat's Official Partridge Family Magazine was basically just “David Cassidy The Magazine:” each issue featured the teen heartthrob front and center on the cover, and sometimes he even shared some space with his television family members. There was also The Official David Cassidy Magazine, a monthly periodical that released 43 issues between June 1972 and December 1975.
Each issue of The Official David Cassidy Magazine came with a “personal” letter to the fans, a pull-out poster, and information about what David was up to that month. It was a dream for every teenage Partridge Family fan.
The Beatles Book Was Published As Recently As 2003
The Beatles Book was a different kind of teenage fanzine. Founded in 1963, the magazine was a homegrown production, focusing specifically on The Beatles and using the infrastructure that was already in place around the band to give the fans another product over which they could salivate.
Edited by Sean O’Mahony under the name “Johnny Dean,” the magazine featured articles by Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans, two roadies for The Beatles, cartoons by Bob Gibson (who when onto do the art for “Magical Mystery Tour”) and photographs by Leslie Bryce, who traveled with the band to get one of a kind photos. The initial run of the magazine ended in December 1969 before starting up again in ’76 and staying in circulation until 2003.
Teen Fandom Is Still Running Wild -- Just Not In Magazines On Newsstands
While many of the early teen magazines ended their publications in the early 2000s, that doesn’t mean that teen fandom has died out. Instead, it’s moved to places like Tumblr and Medium, where its grown even more passionate. On these sites, fans can write about their faves while taking deep dives into personally curated worlds of their own design. Modern fandom is less about the stars that are presented to young people, but more about the personal investment and relationships that fans have with a celebrity.
With Tumblr (or any photo-based social media) a fan can create their own version of The Monthly Beatle Book or The Official David Cassidy Magazine, but they can skew their posts and interests to niche programs like Stranger Things, or celebrities like Cole Sprouse and Beanie Feldstein. The days of the print magazine may be dwindling (if not completely withered on the vine), but teenage fandom never dies.
Tags: 16 Magazine | A Brief History Of... | Childhood Crushes | David Cassidy | Magazine Covers | Magazines | Remember This?... | Seventeen Magazine | Teen Beat | The Beatles | The Monkees | Tiger Beat
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