Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner spills the tea in memoir


When your sixtieth birthday celebration attendees embody David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, Robin Williams and Al Gore, the anecdotes shall be plentiful.

And Jann Wenner’s memoir, the clearly and aptly named “Like a Rolling Stone” (Little, Brown, 592 pp.), would not shirk the storytelling.

For greater than 5 many years, Wenner, 76, lived the lifetime of a rock star. Vicariously, sure. However because the co-founder of Rolling Stone journal in 1967 and later an integral anchor of the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame, the friendships with leisure luminaries starting from Bono to Bob Dylan to John Belushi turned real relationships. In fact, these had been fostered in the course of the years when entry to performers meant being invited to John Lennon’s home for hours-long chats and going boating with Mick Jagger. The present journalistic realities of 10-minute cellphone interviews and 30 seconds on a pink carpet to create Instagram Reels, this was not.

Because the impresarios of Rolling Stone, Wenner and journal co-founder Ralph J. Gleason had been additionally chargeable for discovering and showcasing the writing and reporting of Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Cameron Crowe and Jon Landau (who would depart to handle Springsteen) in addition to photographer Annie Leibovitz, now as iconic as a few of her topics.

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Jann Wenner, co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, released his definitive memoir, "Like a Rolling Stone," on Sept. 13, 2022.

Jann Wenner, co-founder of Rolling Stone journal, launched his definitive memoir, “Like a Rolling Stone,” on Sept. 13, 2022.

Wenner’s memoir zigzags from Los Angeles to London to San Francisco to New York; follows his 1967 marriage to Jane Schindelheim and simultaneous gay dalliances (Wenner has been with accomplice Matt Nye since 1995); and identify drops a constellation of stars from the lands of music, politics and Hollywood.

It’s a wildly entertaining romp that can stir emotions of envy and exhaustion. So many hedonistic events. A lot unique journey. That the journal, which was bought to Penske Media Company in 2017, not solely succeeded, however reworked right into a cultural touchstone, is a little bit of a miracle.

The attract of gracing the entrance of Rolling Stone (ceaselessly immortalized by Shel Silverstein and Dr. Hook’s 1972 singalong, “The Cowl of The Rolling Stone”) may need diminished together with altering reader habits and social media’s creation of a direct line from artist to fan. However Wenner’s experiences and interactions are effectively price immortalizing.

Listed here are 5 revelations.

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Jann Wenner in his San Francisco office, circa 1975.

Jann Wenner in his San Francisco workplace, circa 1975.

No love from Led Zeppelin

Some of the revered rock bands in music historical past “hated” the journal, and guitarist Jimmy Web page blamed Wenner for a “dismissive” assessment of 1969’s debut launch, “Led Zeppelin.” An interview request was refused “with animosity.” Crowe had been assigned the story, and Wenner promised the budding author the duvet if he may by some means land the interviews. Led Zeppelin – together with Web page – finally acquiesced out of fondness for Crowe. Nonetheless, not all was forgiven. Web page arrived on the photograph shoot with a bouquet of lifeless roses.

Mick Jagger, writer?

In 1969, Wenner and Jagger agreed to create a British model of Rolling Stone. Jagger needed the European mannequin to have its personal voice and writers. “Mick discovered workplaces, put collectively a workers and it was underway. He was now within the journal enterprise and I used to be within the Mick Jagger enterprise, and I might keep in that enterprise for all times,” Wenner writes. However after visiting the British workplace and discovering it “uninspiring, loosely run and haphazard,” Wenner shut down the operation after lower than a yr. Jagger paid off the payments, the workers’ salaries and their severance. “It by no means got here up once more,” Wenner, who nonetheless maintains an in depth private relationship with Jagger, says. (In 2021, a British model of Rolling Stone lastly arrived, below the steerage of Stream Publishing.)

Jann Wenner (left) holding a press conference in 1969 with Mick Jagger to announce a British version of Rolling Stone magazine.

Jann Wenner (left) holding a press convention in 1969 with Mick Jagger to announce a British model of Rolling Stone journal.

Mourning John Lennon with Yoko Ono

Wenner, a good friend of Lennon’s, was bereft on the information of the music icon’s 1980 homicide. Falling into work mode, Wenner referred to as Leibovitz to dispatch her to New York’s Dakota constructing, the place Lennon was shot to demise (“despite the fact that she didn’t need to,” Wenner recollects). Throughout per week of melancholy that “this nice man on the middle of every little thing” was gone, Wenner listened to “Double Fantasy” in his darkish workplace and taped an NBC Information particular to debate Lennon’s affect. Ono, Lennon’s widow, noticed the interview and invited Wenner to the Dakota the subsequent day. Ono “gave me an account of the killer calling out John’s identify after which the gun popping out…She had John’s glasses with dried blood on them. She needed me to have a look at them and maintain them.”

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A dance with Michael Jackson

The enigmatic King of Pop requested dinner with Wenner as an audition to find out if he’d comply with a canopy interview. Jackson “jogged my memory of Andy Warhol, a gentle voice, typically a whisper, with numerous ‘gee whiz,’ saying little, asking lots and listening intently,” Wenner says. A date was set for an official interview at Neverland Ranch, with Jackson requesting it happen “at night time, no lights on, simply the hearth and candles.” After weeks of preparation – together with taking Diana Ross to lunch, solely to be taught she “barely knew” Jackson – Wenner acquired the decision he was anticipating: Jackson canceled, saying he was “too nervous” to sit down for the interview. However the singer made it as much as Wenner with an invitation to the marriage he hosted for Elizabeth Taylor and a personal tour of his Neverland Ranch amusement park.

Jann Wenner with Mama Cass Elliot, volunteering as “celebrity ushers” at a George McGovern fundraising concert, 1972.

Jann Wenner with Mama Cass Elliot, volunteering as “celeb ushers” at a George McGovern fundraising live performance, 1972.

Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie and Hollywood veneer

Wenner admits to being captivated by Cruise and his “unnaturally dazzling” smile. The actor’s focus was spectacular; his presence heat. A short assembly along with his mom and sister and a tour of the Scientology middle was included of their interview. And but, “ultimately, he mentioned nothing; he completely deflects… all you already know is that here’s a assured and very well mannered man.”

In 1985, Wenner dovetailed the success of Rolling Stone into the acquisition of US Weekly. At all times in competitors with Folks journal, Wenner was vigilant in unearthing celeb scoops. A little bit of luck arrive when a photographer who labored for Us Weekly acquired a tip that Jolie was on a secret journey to Africa with Brad Pitt, who was married to Jennifer Aniston on the time. The tipster “specified a time and place the place they walked and steered we may ‘secretly’ do a photograph ambush.” The photographer obtained the visible proof of the debut of Brangelina. The tipster was Jolie.

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This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: Jann Wenner memoir reveals many years of drama at Rolling Stone journal


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