We take you through the big events of 1997, from Ellen DeGeneres to Chris Rock

One thing you can say about 1997: It was never boring. Who could have guessed that a 15-year-old Texas girl would conquer country music, that Bob Dylan would come back from a near-death illness with a hit record (or that his son would do so well in the family business), that Sigourney Weaver would once again suck face with a big slimy guy (and we don’t mean Kevin Kline in The Ice Storm), that Elton John would deliver one of the year’s most poignant performances, or that a lesbian named Ellen DeGeneres would make television history? These were among the 12 entertainers who cast the longest shadows on the cultural landscape in 1997 and who kept us here at ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY scrambling to keep up with them. In this issue, we pay them their due and catch our breath…just in time for 1998.