On October 31, 1979, The Rocket appears on Seattle streets as a special edition of The Seattle Sun, reporting the local music scene. The monthly tabloid is distributed free of charge and will ultimately reach a circulation of 90,000 in the Northwest and in British Columbia. The paper will be published for 21 years, until October 2000.
The Rocket was published as an adjunct to the Seattle Sun. Editor Robert Ferrigno wrote in The Rocket's first issue, "We believe the local music scene to be vibrating with life, multi-faceted and responsive to a wide range of audiences. We will cover national acts like The Cars, but remain committed to supporting local music" (The Rocket). The founding six or seven participants owned the paper and the founding publisher was Robert McChesney. In the mid-1980s the paper was sold to Charles Cross and the Seattle Sun Publishing Co.
According to journalist Michael Hill, "The Rocket's small staff soon forged out on its own, making its domain the bars, clubs and theaters of the Seattle area and its primary subjects the musicians that played in them" (Puget Sound Business Journal). In 1991, a Portland edition was launched. In 1994, issues came out bi-weekly.
Charles Cross sold The Rocket to BAM Media in San Francisco in 1995. BAM's Bay Area publications failed and in 2000, The Rocket was sold to David Roberts, publisher of Illinois Entertainer. Two months later, on October 18, 2000, Roberts closed the doors because of low revenues.
Tim Keck, publisher of The Stranger, said, "I think The Rocket was very important, not only for music, but for alternative newspapers. They did amazing design back in the day and were known for really good art direction" ( Puget Sound Business Journal).