Jann Wenner

Last updated

Jann Wenner
Jann Wenner TribFest 22 Austin Texas.jpg
Wenner in 2022
Jann Simon Wenner

(1946-01-07) January 7, 1946 (age 78)
New York City, U.S.
Jane Schindelheim
(m. 1967;div. 1995)
PartnerMatt Nye (1995–present)

Jann Simon Wenner [1] ( /ˈjɑːnˈwɛnər/ YAHNWEN-er; [2] born January 7, 1946) [3] is an American businessman who is a co-founder of the popular culture magazine Rolling Stone , and former owner of Men's Journal magazine. He participated in the Free Speech Movement while attending the University of California, Berkeley. Wenner, with his mentor Ralph J. Gleason, founded Rolling Stone in 1967. [4]


Later in his career, Wenner co-founded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and founded other publications. As a publisher and media figure, he has faced controversy regarding Hall of Fame eligibility favoritism, the breakdown of his relationship with gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, and criticism that his magazine's reviews were biased. [5]

Early life and career

Wenner was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the son of Sim and Edward Wenner. [6] He grew up in a secular Jewish family. [7]

His parents divorced in 1958, and he and his sisters, Kate and Merlyn, were sent to boarding schools. He completed his secondary education at the Chadwick School in 1963 and went on to attend the University of California, Berkeley. Before dropping out of Berkeley in 1966, Wenner was active in the Free Speech Movement and produced the column "Something's Happening" in the student-run newspaper, The Daily Californian . [8]

With the help of his mentor, San Francisco Chronicle jazz critic Ralph J. Gleason, Wenner landed a job at Ramparts , a high-circulation muckraker, where Gleason was a contributing editor and Wenner worked on the magazine's spinoff newspaper. [9]

Media industry

In 1967, Wenner and Gleason founded Rolling Stone magazine in San Francisco. To get the magazine started, Wenner borrowed US$7,500 (equivalent to $65,823in 2022) from family members and from the family of his soon-to-be wife, Jane Schindelheim. [4]

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Wenner played an integral role in popularizing writers such as Hunter S. Thompson, Ben Fong-Torres, Paul Nelson, Greil Marcus, Dave Marsh, Grover Lewis, Timothy Crouse, Timothy Ferris, Joe Klein, Cameron Crowe, Joe Eszterhas, and P.J. O'Rourke. He also discovered photographer Annie Leibovitz when she was a 21-year-old San Francisco Art Institute student. Many of Wenner's proteges, such as Crowe, credit him with giving them their biggest breaks. Tom Wolfe recognized Wenner's influence in ensuring that his first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities , was completed: "I was absolutely frozen with fright about getting it done and I decided to serialize it and the only editor crazy enough to do that was Jann." [10]

In 1977, Rolling Stone shifted its base of operations from San Francisco to New York City. [11] The magazine's circulation dipped briefly in the late 1970s and early 1980s as Rolling Stone responded slowly in covering the emergence of punk rock and again in the 1990s, when it lost ground to Spin and Blender in coverage of hip hop. Wenner hired former FHM editor Ed Needham, who was then replaced by Will Dana, to turn his flagship magazine around, and by 2006, Rolling Stone's circulation was at an all-time high of 1.5 million copies sold every two weeks. In May 2006, Rolling Stone published its 1000th edition with a holographic, 3-D cover modeled on The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. [12]

Wenner has been involved in the conducting and writing of many of the magazine's Rolling Stone Interviews. His interview subjects have included Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama for the magazine during their election campaigns and in November 2005 had an interview with U2 rock star Bono, which focused on music and politics. [13] Wenner's interview with Bono received a National Magazine Award nomination.

Rolling Stone and Wenner are chronicled in three books, Gone Crazy and Back Again by Robert Sam Anson, Rolling Stone: The Uncensored History by Robert Draper, and Sticky Fingers:The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan. Robin Green's memoir The Only Girl covers the time she worked at Rolling Stone. [14]

Wenner founded the magazine Outside in 1977; where William Randolph Hearst III and Jack Ford both worked before Wenner sold it a year later. He also briefly managed the magazine Look and, in 1993, started the magazine Family Life. In 1985, he bought a share in Us Weekly , followed by a joint purchase of the magazine with The Walt Disney Company the following year. The magazine made the transition from a monthly to a weekly in 2000. [15] In August 2006, Wenner bought out Disney's share to consolidate 100% ownership. [16]

From 2004 to 2006, Wenner contributed approximately US$63,000 (equivalent to $91,453in 2022) to Democratic candidates and liberal organizations. [17]

In September 2016, Advertising Age reported that Wenner was in the process of selling a 49% stake in Rolling Stone to Singaporean company BandLab Technologies. The new investor would have no direct involvement in the editorial content of the magazine. [18] In October 2016, Wenner started publishing Glixel, a video games-based website. [19]

In September 2017, Wenner Media announced that the remaining 51% of Rolling Stone was up for sale. [20] That share was bought by Penske Media Corporation, who later acquired the remaining stake from BandLab. [21]

In 2022, Little, Brown and Company published Wenner's memoir, Like a Rolling Stone. [22]


Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson was to provide Rolling Stone coverage for the 1976 presidential campaign that would appear in a book published by the magazine. Reportedly, as Thompson was waiting for a $75,000 advance check to arrive, he learned that Wenner had canceled the assignment without telling him.

Wenner then asked Thompson to travel to Vietnam to report on what turned out to be the final moments of the Vietnam War. Thompson accepted and arrived with the country in chaos, just as the United States was preparing to evacuate and other journalists were scrambling to find transportation out of the region. Thompson's story about the fall of Saigon would not be published in Rolling Stone until ten years later. Thompson contributed far less frequently to the publication in later years. [23]

Hootie and the Blowfish review

Wenner fired rock critic Jim DeRogatis in 1996 after DeRogatis delivered a negative review for an album by the then-popular band Hootie and the Blowfish. Wenner pulled DeRogatis' review from the magazine. Asked by the New York Observer if Wenner was a fan of Hootie and the Blowfish, DeRogatis responded that Wenner "is a fan of any band that sells eight million records." Wenner fired DeRogatis the next day. [24]

Sticky Fingers

In June 2017, Wenner cut ties with Joe Hagan, the biographer he had commissioned to write his biography, Sticky Fingers , calling the book Hagan produced "deeply flawed and tawdry, rather than substantial". [1] [25] Hagan had been working closely with Wenner on the book since 2013, and Sticky Fingers was released in October 2017. [26] [27] [28] [29]

New York Times interview

In September 2023 Wenner was interviewed by the New York Times' David Marchese about his book The Masters: Conversations with Dylan, Lennon, Jagger, Townshend, Garcia, Bono, and Springsteen and its basis of "seven white guys." Specifically, Wenner was asked about the book's introduction in which he claimed that black and female artists were "not in his zeitgeist." In response, Wenner said of female artists that 'none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level," to be included in his list of masterful musicians. Of black artists Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, he said "they just didn’t articulate at that level". [30] In response, he was removed from the board of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation the day after the interview was published. [31] His comments were widely criticized. [32] He issued an apology statement through his publisher, Little, Brown and Company, on September 18, 2023. [33]

Personal life

In the summer of 1967, after Rolling Stone started, Wenner and Jane Schindelheim were married in a small Jewish ceremony. [34] Wenner and his wife separated in 1995, though Jane Wenner still remains a vice president of Wenner Media. She and Wenner have three sons. One of them, Edward Augustus (Gus), was made head of Wenner Media's digital operations in 2014. [35]

Since 1995, Wenner's domestic partner has been Matt Nye, a fashion designer. Together, Wenner and Nye have three children born via surrogate mothers. [36] [37]

Awards and honors


Select Rolling Stone Interview bibliography

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hunter S. Thompson</span> American journalist and author (1937–2005)

Hunter Stockton Thompson was an American journalist and author. He rose to prominence with the publication of Hell's Angels (1967), a book for which he spent a year living with the Hells Angels motorcycle club to write a first-hand account of their lives and experiences. In 1970, he wrote an unconventional article titled "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved" for Scanlan's Monthly, which further raised his profile as a countercultural figure. It also set him on the path to establishing his own subgenre of New Journalism that he called "Gonzo", a journalistic style in which the writer becomes a central figure and participant in the events of the narrative.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lester Bangs</span> American music critic and journalist (1948–1982)

Leslie Conway "Lester" Bangs was an American music journalist. He wrote for Creem and Rolling Stone magazines, and was a leading influence in rock music criticism. The music critic Jim DeRogatis called him "America's greatest rock critic".

<i>Rolling Stone</i> American monthly magazine

Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on music, politics, and popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner and the music critic Ralph J. Gleason.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">U2</span> Irish rock band

U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin, formed in 1976. The group consists of Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr.. Initially rooted in post-punk, U2's musical style has evolved throughout their career, yet has maintained an anthemic quality built on Bono's expressive vocals and the Edge's chiming, effects-based guitar sounds. Bono's lyrics, often embellished with spiritual imagery, focus on personal and sociopolitical themes. Popular for their live performances, the group have staged several elaborate tours over their career.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rock and Roll Hall of Fame</span> Music museum in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF), sometimes simply referred to as the Rock Hall, is a museum and hall of fame located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States, on the shore of Lake Erie. The museum documents the history of rock music and the artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures and personnel who have influenced its development.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bono</span> Irish musician and activist, lead vocalist of U2 (born 1960)

Paul David Hewson, known by the nickname Bono, is an Irish singer-songwriter and activist. He is the lead vocalist and primary lyricist of the rock band U2.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ralph J. Gleason</span> American music critic (1917–1975)

Ralph Joseph Gleason was an American music critic and columnist. He contributed for many years to the San Francisco Chronicle, was a founding editor of Rolling Stone magazine, and cofounder of the Monterey Jazz Festival. A pioneering jazz and rock critic, he helped the San Francisco Chronicle transition into the rock era.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mick Taylor</span> British guitarist, former member of the Rolling Stones (born 1949)

Michael Kevin Taylor is an English guitarist, best known as a former member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (1967–1969) and the Rolling Stones (1969–1974). As a member of the Stones, he appeared on Let It Bleed (1969), Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert (1970), Sticky Fingers (1971), Exile on Main St. (1972), Goats Head Soup (1973) and It's Only Rock 'n Roll (1974).

<i>Sticky Fingers</i> 1971 studio album by the Rolling Stones

Sticky Fingers is a studio album by the English rock band the Rolling Stones. It was released on 23 April 1971 on the Rolling Stones' new label, Rolling Stones Records. The Rolling Stones had been contracted by Decca Records and London Records in the UK and the US since 1963. On this album, Mick Taylor made his second full-length appearance on a Rolling Stones album. It was the first studio album without Brian Jones, who died two years earlier. The original cover artwork, conceived by Andy Warhol and photographed and designed by members of his art collective, the Factory, showed a picture of a man in tight jeans, and had a working zip that opened to reveal underwear fabric. The cover was expensive to produce and damaged the vinyl record, so the size of the zipper adjustment was made by John Kosh at ABKCO records. Later re-issues featured just the outer photograph of the jeans.

<i>Their Satanic Majesties Request</i> 1967 studio album by the Rolling Stones

Their Satanic Majesties Request is a studio album by the English rock band the Rolling Stones, released in December 1967 by Decca Records in the UK and by London Records in the US. It was the first Rolling Stones album to be released in identical versions in both countries. The title is a play on the "Her Britannic Majesty requests and requires" text that appeared inside a British passport.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brown Sugar (Rolling Stones song)</span> 1971 single by The Rolling Stones

"Brown Sugar" is a song recorded by the English rock band the Rolling Stones. Written primarily by Mick Jagger, it is the opening track and lead single from their album Sticky Fingers (1971). It became a number one hit in both the United States and Canada. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, it charted at number two. In the United States, Billboard ranked it as the number 16 song for 1971.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jim DeRogatis</span> American music critic and podcast host

James Peter DeRogatis is an American music critic and co-host of Sound Opinions. DeRogatis has written articles for magazines such as Rolling Stone, Spin, Guitar World and Modern Drummer, and for 15 years was the pop music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.

David Weir is a journalist, author, and co-founder and former Executive Director of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glass Onion (song)</span> 1968 song by the Beatles

"Glass Onion" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1968 double album The Beatles. The song was written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney.

Dave Marsh is an American music critic and radio talk show host. He was an early editor of Creem magazine, has written for various publications such as Newsday, The Village Voice, and Rolling Stone, and has published numerous books about music and musicians, mostly focused on rock music. He is also a committee member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

<i>Goddess in the Doorway</i> 2001 studio album by Mick Jagger

Goddess in the Doorway is the fourth solo album by Mick Jagger, released in 2001. The most recent offering from Jagger as a solo artist, it marked his first release with Virgin Records, who he has been contracted with as a member of The Rolling Stones since 1991.

"Gimme Shelter" is a song by English rock band the Rolling Stones. Written by Jagger-Richards, it is the opening track of the band's 1969 album Let It Bleed. The song covers the brutal realities of war, including murder, rape and fear. It features prominent guest vocals by American singer Merry Clayton.

<i>Lennon Remembers</i> Book by Jann Wenner

Lennon Remembers is a 1971 book by Rolling Stone magazine co-founder and editor Jann Wenner. It consists of a lengthy interview that Wenner carried out with former Beatle John Lennon in December 1970 and which was originally serialised in Rolling Stone in its issues dated 21 January and 4 February 1971. The interview was intended to promote Lennon's primal therapy-inspired album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and reflects the singer's emotions and mindset after undergoing an intense course of the therapy under Arthur Janov. It also serves as a rebuttal to Paul McCartney's public announcement of the Beatles' break-up, in April 1970.

<i>Sticky Fingers</i> (book) 2017 book by Joe Hagan

Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine is a 2017 book by Joe Hagan that examines Jann Wenner and the history of Rolling Stone magazine. The book has seven "positive" reviews, nine "rave" reviews, and four "mixed" reviews, according to review aggregator Book Marks.

Gus Wenner is an American magazine executive who is the chief executive officer of Rolling Stone.


  1. 1 2 Shafer, Jack (November 27, 2017). "The Licentious Life and Times of Jann Wenner". The New York Times . Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  2. Hagan, Joe (October 20, 2017). "The Long, Bizarre Relationship Between Jann Wenner and Mick Jagger". Vulture.
  3. "UPI Almanac for Monday, Jan, 7, 2019". United Press International . January 7, 2019. Archived from the original on September 21, 2019. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  4. 1 2 Weir, David (April 20, 1999). "Wenner's world". Salon.com. Archived from the original on April 25, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  5. Sisario, Ben (September 25, 2019). "Jann Wenner Steps Down From the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved May 4, 2022.
  6. Hagan, Joe (October 24, 2017). Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine. Knopf Canada. ISBN   9780345815071.
  7. "Celebrity Jews". Jweekly.com. March 26, 2004. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  8. "News". The Daily Californian. August 20, 2007. Archived from the original on November 6, 2007. Retrieved October 22, 2007. See also Peter Richardson, "Roots Music: The Beginnings of Rolling Stone" (2017).
  9. Shafer, Jack (November 27, 2017). "The Licentious Life and Times of Jann Wenner". The New York Times.
  10. O'Brien, Timothy (December 25, 2005). "Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Read Me". The New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2007.
  11. Carlson, Peter (May 6, 2006). "News". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 13, 2007.
  12. Carlson, Peter (May 4, 2006). "How Does it Feel?". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 5, 2007.
  13. Wenner, Jann (November 3, 2005). "Bono: The Rolling Stone Interview". Archived from the original on December 11, 2006. Retrieved October 31, 2007.
  14. "Robin Green on being Rolling Stone's only female writer in the 1970s". Independent.co.uk . August 17, 2018.
  15. Wenner, Jann. "The Huffington Post" . Retrieved October 31, 2007.
  16. Seelye, Katharine Q. (August 10, 2006). "Disney to sell its half stake in Us Weekly back to Wenner". The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2007.
  17. Dedman, Bill (July 15, 2007). "The list: Journalists who wrote political checks". NBC News . Retrieved October 24, 2010.
  18. "Jann Wenner Sells 49% of Rolling Stone to Singapore's BandLab". Advertising Age . Bloomberg News. September 25, 2016. Archived from the original on September 26, 2016. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  19. Ember, Sydney (May 23, 2016). "Wenner Media to Launch Glixel Website as Lifeline for Gamers". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved May 4, 2022.
  20. Alanna Petroff and Tom Kludt (September 18, 2017). "Rolling Stone magazine up for sale". CNNMoney . Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  21. Pompeo, Joe (January 31, 2019). "JAY PENSKE GOBBLES UP THE REMAINING 49 PERCENT OF ROLLING STONE". Vanity Fair . Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  22. Jann S. Wenner (January 3, 2022). Like a Rolling Stone: A Memoir. Hachette Book Group. ISBN   9780316415194 . Retrieved September 25, 2022.
  23. "Hunter Thompson Meets Fear and Loathing Face to Face". New Times. December 10, 1976. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  24. "How To Be A Rock Critic". Furious.com. Archived from the original on May 22, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  25. Coscarelli, Joe and Sydney Ember. Jann Wenner and His Biographer Have a Falling Out. New York Times. October 18, 2017.
  26. Flanagan, Andrew. Jann Wenner, 'Rolling Stone,' And The Decline Of Rock 'N' Roll. NPR. November 2, 2017.
  27. Seymour, Corey. Yeah, Working for Rolling Stone Was Like That—But It Was Also Like This. Vogue. October 26, 2017.
  28. Petrusich, Amanda. Looking For Jann Wenner. The New Yorker. November 1, 2017.
  29. Green, Elon. Q&A: Joe Hagan on his explosive biography of Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner. Columbia Journalism Review. October 19, 2017.
  30. Marchese, David (September 15, 2023). "Jann Wenner Defends His Legacy, and His Generation's". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  31. Sisario, Ben (September 16, 2023). "Jann Wenner Removed From Rock Hall Board After Times Interview". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved September 17, 2023.
  32. Rosenbloom, Alli (September 17, 2023). "Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner removed from Rock Hall leadership after controversial comments". cnn.com. CNN. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  33. Al-Sardar, Ali. "Why Jann Wenner Was Removed from Rock Hall of Fame Board". Rock Informer. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  34. Draper, Robert (1990). Rolling Stone Magazine: The Uncensored History. Doubleday. ISBN   0-385-26060-1.
  35. "Gus Wenner promoted to head of digital across Wenner Media". Billboard. June 25, 2014. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
  36. "Side Dish: Brangelina expecting?". Daily News. New York. January 27, 2008.
  37. "Rolling Stone Founder Jann Wenner Apologizes For "Badly Chosen Words" About Black & Female Musicians". Deadline. September 17, 2023.
  38. "Boz Scaggs: Jann Wenner and Recording Debut Solo Album". Archived from the original on April 23, 2019. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  39. "Photojournalism An Ethical Approach, Chapter 6". Commfaculty.fullerton.edu. Archived from the original on September 20, 2013. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  40. 1 2 "Jann S. Wenner". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
  41. Ray, Amy. "background: lucystoners". Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  42. Wenner, Jann; Seymour, Corey (October 31, 2007). Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson . New York, NY: Little, Brown. ISBN   978-0-316-00527-2.
  43. Bosman, Julie (March 24, 2014). "Journalist Receives Big Advance for Jann Wenner Biography". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 6, 2019.
  44. Wenner, Jann (May 3, 2007). "Interview with Bob Dylan for RS 40th Anniversary Issue". Rolling Stone. No. 1025/1026.
  45. Wenner, Jann (November 3, 2005). "Bono". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on August 24, 2007. Retrieved November 6, 2007.
  46. Wenner, Jann (November 11, 2004). "John Kerry". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 16, 2006. Retrieved November 6, 2007.
  47. Wenner, Jann (November 9, 2000). "Al Gore". Rolling Stone. No. 836.
  48. Wenner, Jann (December 14, 1995). "Jagger Remembers". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 2, 2007. Retrieved November 6, 2007.
  49. Wenner, Jann (December 9, 1993). "President Bill Clinton". Rolling Stone. No. 671.
  50. Wenner, Jann (January 20, 1972). "Jerry Garcia". Rolling Stone. No. 100.
  51. Wenner, Jann (January 21, 1971). "John Lennon". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 10, 2007. Retrieved November 6, 2007.
  52. Wenner, Jann (November 29, 1969). "Bob Dylan". Rolling Stone. No. 47.
  53. Townshend, Pete (September 1968). "Pete Townshend: The Rolling Stone Interview". Rolling Stone (Interview). Interviewed by Jann Wenner. Archived from the original on July 1, 2007. Retrieved November 14, 2007.