It was March 2003, and the Dixie Chicks (now acknowledged as the Chicks) experienced kicked off their new tour. Throughout the opening evening in London, on the eve of the Iraq War, guide singer Natalie Maines criticized George W. Bush and modified her and her bandmates’ lives: “We’re on the superior aspect with y’all,” she told the viewers. “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.” Suddenly, the nation audio trio — America’s prime-providing woman team of all time — was engulfed in controversy as enraged fans and some others named for a boycott, country radio stations pulled their tracks and album income started to drop.
A month afterwards, the associates of the Chicks (Maines, Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire) responded in an in-depth interview with Leisure Weekly — and, in a shift considered especially stunning, posed nude for the cover, their bodies painted in words and phrases that persons were being calling them: “Dixie Sluts.” “Proud Us residents.” “Traitors.” “Fearless.” The impression was so putting that it went viral before likely viral existed.
The cover set the group’s defiant tone heading ahead they had been not heading to back again down or apologize for currently being females who experienced viewpoints. It improved the course of their career — paving a path for their 2006 Grammy-sweeping album, “Taking the Extended Way” — and motivated innumerable other nation functions. To some, particularly those previously inspired by their audio, they have been heroes. To other individuals, they ended up a cautionary tale, and considered, to this day, to be the motive quite a few Nashville singers refuse to say a word about politics. It’s also why most place stations nonetheless will not engage in the Chicks.
But even as Amusement Weekly fades absent (considerably to the disappointment of showbiz supporters who grew up on the magazine), the Chicks include will by no means be neglected. Here’s the story of how it transpired.
John McAlley, who was the music editor for EW, frequently had to thrust for the magazine to prioritize music protection, offered that the publication was heavy on Television set and films. But he knew the Chicks controversy was likely to be a enormous tale, and it needed to be entrance and heart. So he was established to land the job interview — his major concern was that he was likely to be scooped by Time magazine, which experienced a inclination to “bigfoot” EW for stories, even nevertheless they had the exact operator.
“The news weeklies at the time ended up actually impressive and definitely large profile,” he explained. “There was so much status and visibility hooked up to being on the address of a information weekly, that on extra than one particular situation, we misplaced a struggle for a story for the reason that Time was promising the cover. But Time hardly ever gave the cover — it would often stop up remaining an within tale.”
Meanwhile, Rogers & Cowan PMK Chairman Cindi Berger, the Chicks’ publicist, could convey to this backlash was not likely away. She and the band’s staff identified the trio desired to do 3 interviews: a syndicated radio display, a broadcast Television set interview and the protect of a well known magazine. So she booked them on region temperament Bob Kingsley’s radio clearly show, an ABC special with Diane Sawyer, and then referred to as … Rolling Stone.
Berger wanted the protect to run at a certain time in Might to coincide with the Sawyer exclusive, as effectively as the start of the Chicks’ U.S. tour dates, but Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner declined, she mentioned. Her future cellular phone connect with was to McAlley, who was eager to make it happen, and they commenced negotiations.
Berger needed to make positive they ended up certain the deal with and that the editors and artwork administrators would collaborate with the band on the photography notion.
“It was quite a few, a lot of times of back and forth, great uncertainty regardless of whether we would land the deal with or not,” McAlley mentioned. He vividly remembers obtaining the go-forward simply call: “I was in the dwelling space of my parents’ residence in suburban New York when my flip cell phone rang on a Saturday early morning. It was Cindi Berger. She mentioned, ‘We want to do this.’ ”
Brainstorming started, and the EW workers felt pressured to arrive up with the best thought.
“We all felt like, ‘Wow, we obtained the scoop — now we need to have an graphic which is going to be equivalent to the truth that we received the special on it,’ ” explained Geraldine Hessler, EW’s artistic director.
Concepts started to movement in between the crew and the band: Mainly because persons have been screaming that the Chicks were unpatriotic, the initial notion was to wrap Maines, Maguire and Strayer in an American flag. But then the editors had been concerned it would glance like they had been denigrating the flag. An individual else suggested the singers use American flag earrings or kerchiefs. Fiona McDonagh Farrell, the photo editor, remembers becoming on the meeting get in touch with the place Maines reported a little something together the traces of, “We should really all be bare and branded with the factors they’ve been declaring about us.”
“The publicist, by natural means, was like, ‘We are not undertaking that!’ ” Farrell said. “I waited a several minutes and then stated, ‘Let’s go back again to the idea Natalie stated, due to the fact it could be a genuinely, seriously attention-grabbing notion.’ ” Farrell liked the concept of juxtaposing some of the terrible things they had been identified as (“Saddam’s Angels,” for example) with some of the favourable reactions (“brave” and “heroes”). In the vicinity of the close of the contact, they made a decision the Chicks would wrap by themselves in bumper stickers with all the phrases.
Without a doubt, Berger was mildly horrified by the thought of a nude include. But the band usually experienced very specific inventive ideas. “The protect required to be important and needed to make a statement,” Berger mentioned. “When the women came up with this, I mentioned, ‘Well, that’s a assertion.’ ”
The photograph shoot was booked in April, and it was a scramble — Hessler remembers they experienced 5 times, at most, to prepare for the shoot, which took position in a remote airplane hangar in Austin. Though Maines, Strayer and Maguire preserved a sense of calm and very good humor, it was an rigorous environment: Loss of life threats had been however rolling in versus the band, and safety was in all places.
At that point, they agreed on the bumper sticker plan, and the artwork department made them. Still Farrell began to stress that the stickers wouldn’t get there in Austin on time — and extra importantly, even if they did, that they would look dreadful. She conferred with the photographer, James White, who agreed stickers may well not be the ideal search. They made a decision to employ a physique make-up artist who could paint the text on the Chicks, just in scenario.
Guaranteed plenty of, the stickers in no way showed up. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m likely to have to get to established and have to inform Cindi we don’t have stickers — but we do have this other human being,’ ” Farrell mentioned. “Fortunately, all the stars aligned. And even though Cindi was justifiably terribly nervous about this notion, the three women at the coronary heart of the story have been courageous sufficient to say, ‘Yes, let’s do it. Let’s go for it.’ ”
“Terribly nervous” may perhaps have been an understatement for Berger, who was generating panicked phone calls to the EW editors again in New York. Her most significant fear was that the cover was going to be considered far too specific and wrapped in brown paper on newsstands, which would defeat the full goal. “I don’t forget declaring, ‘I never assume this is going to get the job done,’ ” she stated. “And James White mentioned, ‘I’m heading to spot them beautifully.’ And he did.”
White recalled the shoot overall was a “very great day” in spite of the tense circumstances and admired the trio’s bond in tricky situations. “They had been pretty supportive of each and every other,” he explained. “They stuck together, and I loved viewing that.”
In 2013, on the 10th anniversary of the cover, Strayer explained to EW that “it absolutely was the most bold thing” the band had at any time completed: “I felt like we knew the gravity of that shoot whilst it was taking place.”
McAlley assigned the tale to Chris Willman, a highly regarded nation-new music writer who experienced by now been striving to get a feature story going on the Chicks and their most recent album, “Home.” At EW, he mentioned, it was “always a major fight” to get region songs in the New York-centered journal. All of a sudden, the tables had turned.
Willman wasn’t allowed at the photograph shoot, so he satisfied the band afterwards at a sushi restaurant for the job interview. He stated it was difficult to grasp the enormity of the controversy at the time, and considered it’s possible almost everything would blow about in a few months. But once he observed the include photos, he recognized that for the band, there was no likely back.
“We all understood what a defiant assertion it was,” Willman explained. “The include was expressing them as becoming susceptible and having been victims in some perception in all of this, but it was also the major center finger you can set up to the earth.”
In New York, Farrell started off editing the pics, and it was a “no-brainer” about what was going to be the deal with. Hessler said that ordinarily, EW put a ton of text and added imagery on covers, specified the importance of newsstand product sales. This was diverse.
“You did not have to have a whole lot of words and phrases on the go over simply because the impression was so powerful,” she said. “We have been just overjoyed by it — it was that thrill when you have a imaginative vision and then it completely will come jointly, and not only as executed, but in a way that is so a great deal greater than you ever assumed it could be.”
Irrespective of Berger’s worries, the journal was not wrapped in brown paper some suppliers, these kinds of as Walmart, would not display screen addresses with nudity. But as Hessler mentioned, the journal “wasn’t about to compromise its editorial mission” dependent on that probability.
EW doesn’t let include acceptance from topics, so when Berger eventually observed the magazine, she felt a large wave of relief and was blown absent by the graphic. She right away faxed it to the band. “It was a powerful, highly effective moment,” Berger explained. (She claimed she acquired a connect with from Wenner at Rolling Stone, who claimed, “Well, that’s the go over of the year.”)
Around at EW, the editors ended up overwhelmed by the reaction — it was on each individual information clearly show and reprinted on the front of the New York Write-up. The journal gained hundreds of letters from audience. “It just promptly type of exploded in the tradition,” McAlley claimed. In a exceptional prevalence, he been given a bottle of Dom Pérignon from Berger, who expressed gratitude that the story addressed the Chicks with respect and enable them discuss their piece. “Thank you. You are a gentleman of your phrase,” read through the observe.
All of the EW staffers interviewed say it was a job emphasize, even as Willman joked that his prolonged Q&A with the band accounted for a mere 1 percent of the reaction. In 2005, the American Modern society of Journal Editors named it a single of the top 40 covers of the previous 40 several years. “It was one of the those moments where by we took a hazard, and the Dixie Chicks, they took a large danger,” Farrell claimed. “Sometimes a protect can be the the very least attention-grabbing impression, but sometimes, it can be a serious assertion.”
The staffers also spoke with a trace of wistfulness — journal handles really don’t make very the exact same splash these days. “This was an act of defiance and energy and it was just a super-bold cover,” McAlley explained. “And just one of Amusement Weekly’s biggest times, for sure.”