Jann Simon Wenner
January 7, 1947
New York City, United States
|Partner(s)||Matt Nye (1995–present)|
|Awards||Member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame|
Jann Simon Wenner(born January 7, 1946) is an American magazine magnate who is the co-founder and publisher 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, co-founded Rolling Stone in 1967.
Later in his career, Wenner co-founded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has 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.
Wenner was born in New York City, the son of Sim and Edward Wenner.He grew up in a secular Jewish family.
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 .
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.
In 1967, Wenner and Gleason founded Rolling Stone magazine in San Francisco. To get the magazine started, Wenner borrowed $7,500 from family members and from the family of his soon-to-be wife, Jane Schindelheim.
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, stating "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."
In 1977, Rolling Stone shifted its base of operations from San Francisco to New York City. 's circulation was at an all-time high of 1.5 million copies sold every fortnight. 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.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
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 rockstar Bono, which focused on music and politics.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, and Sticky Fingers:The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan. Former Rolling Stone journalist David Weir is working on a biography,as is poet and Beat historian Lewis MacAdams. Robin Green's memoir The Only Girl covers the time she worked at Rolling Stone.
Wenner founded the magazine Outside in 1977; wherein William Randolph Hearst III and Jack Ford both worked for the magazine 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.In August 2006, Wenner bought out Disney's share and now owns 100% of the magazine.
From 2004 to 2006, Wenner contributed approximately $63,000 to Democratic candidates and liberal organizations.
In September 2016, Advertising Age reported that Wenner was in the process of selling a 49% stake in Rolling Stone to a company from Singapore called BandLab Technologies. The new investor would have no direct involvement in the editorial content of the magazine.In October 2016, Wenner started publishing Glixel, a video games-based website.
In September 2017, Wenner Media announced that the remaining 51% of Rolling Stone was up for sale.That share was bought by Penske Media Corporation, who later acquired the remaining stake from BandLab.
Wenner, who was made a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in 1983, has endured controversy during his career as it relates to his involvement in the organization. Fans and supporters of several artists have placed a large amount of blame on Wenner for keeping them out of the Hall of Fame. They claim Wenner has lobbied to keep them from consideration and nomination to the Hall based on personal bias and a dislike for their music.
In June 2007, Monkees bassist Peter Tork alleged to the New York Post that Wenner is excluding the group:
[Wenner] "doesn't care what the rules are and just operates how he sees fit. It is an abuse of power. I don't know whether The Monkees belong in the Hall of Fame, but it's pretty clear that we're not in there because of a personal whim." Tork believes Wenner doesn't like the fact that The Monkees, who were originally cast as actors for a TV sitcom, didn't play their own instruments on their first two records. "Jann seems to have taken it harder than everyone else, and now, 40 years later, everybody says, 'What's the big deal? Everybody else does it.' Nobody cares now except him. He feels his moral judgment in 1967 and 1968 is supposed to serve in 2007.
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 canceled the endeavor without telling him.
Wenner then asked Thompson to travel to Vietnam to report on what appeared to be the closing 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. While there, Thompson learned that Wenner had canceled this excursion as well, and Thompson found himself in Vietnam without health insurance or additional financial support. Thompson's story about the fall of Saigon would not be published in Rolling Stone until ten years later.
These two incidents severely strained the relationship between the author and the magazine, and Thompson contributed far less to the publication in later years.
Wenner fired rock critic Jim DeRogatis in 1996 after DeRogatis published 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.
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."Hagan had been working closely with Wenner on the book since 2013, and Sticky Fingers was released in October 2017.
In the summer of 1967, following the start of Rolling Stone, Wenner and Jane Schindelheim were married in a small Jewish ceremony.Wenner and his wife separated in 1995, though Jane Wenner still remains a vice president of Wenner Media. She and Wenner have three sons, Alexander Jann, Theodore "Theo" Simon, and Edward Augustus, known as Gus, head of Wenner Media's digital operations.
Since 1995, Wenner's domestic partner has been Matt Nye, a fashion designer. Together, Wenner and Nye have three children, Noah and twins Jude and India Rose.
Hunter Stockton Thompson was an American journalist and author, and the founder of the gonzo journalism movement. He first rose to prominence with the publication of Hell's Angels (1967), a book for which he spent a year living and riding with the Hells Angels motorcycle club to write a first-hand account of the lives and experiences of its members.
Leslie Conway "Lester" Bangs was an American music journalist, critic, author, and musician. He wrote for Creem and Rolling Stone magazines, and was known for his leading influence in rock music criticism. The music critic Jim DeRogatis called him "America's greatest rock critic".
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. It was first known for its coverage of rock music and for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine broadened and shifted its focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. It has since returned to its traditional mix of content, including music, entertainment, and politics.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF) 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 who have influenced its development.
Paul David Hewson, known by his stage name Bono, is an Irish singer-songwriter, activist, philanthropist, venture capitalist, businessman, and actor. He is best known as the lead vocalist and primary lyricist of rock band U2.
Ralph Joseph Gleason was an American jazz and popular music critic. 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 rock critic, he helped the San Francisco Chronicle transition into the rock era.
Michael Kevin Taylor is an English musician, best known as a former member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (1967–69) and the Rolling Stones (1969–74). 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).
Sticky Fingers is the ninth British and eleventh American studio album by the English rock band the Rolling Stones, released on 23 April 1971 on their new, and own, label Rolling Stones Records after previously having been contracted by Decca Records and London Records in the UK and US since 1963. It is Mick Taylor's second full-length appearance on a Rolling Stones album without contributions from guitarist and founder 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 zipper that opened to reveal underwear fabric. The cover was expensive to produce and damaged the vinyl record, so later re-issues featured just the outer photograph of the jeans.
"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 number two. In the United States, Billboard ranked it as the number 18 song for 1971. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number 495 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and at number five on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.
James Peter DeRogatis is an American music critic and co-host of Sound Opinions. DeRogatis has written articles for magazines such as Spin, Guitar World and Modern Drummer, and for fifteen years was the pop music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.
"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, author, editor 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.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream is a 1971 novel by Hunter S. Thompson, illustrated by Ralph Steadman. The book is a roman à clef, rooted in autobiographical incidents. The story follows its protagonist, Raoul Duke, and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo, as they descend on Las Vegas to chase the American Dream through a drug-induced haze, all the while ruminating on the failure of the 1960s countercultural movement. The work is Thompson's most famous book, and is noted for its lurid descriptions of illegal drug use and its early retrospective on the culture of the 1960s. Its popularization of Thompson's highly subjective blend of fact and fiction has become known as gonzo journalism. The novel first appeared as a two-part series in Rolling Stone magazine in 1971, and was published as a book in 1972. It was later adapted into a film of the same title in 1998 by Terry Gilliam, starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro who portrayed Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo, respectively.
Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is a recording studio in Sheffield, Alabama formed in 1969 by four session musicians called The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section who had left Rick Hall's nearby FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals to create their own recording facility. The group closed the Jackson Highway studio in 1979, moving the operation to 1000 Alabama Avenue. The old studio has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since June 2006. The studio, which is at 3614 Jackson Highway, was partly restored in the early 2000s and sold to the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation in 2013. This group completed a major restoration and the location reopened on January 9, 2017. The Alabama Avenue location ceased operations in 2005 when it was sold to a record label.
"Bo Diddley" is a rhythm and blues and rock and roll song first recorded by Bo Diddley at the Universal Recording Studio in Chicago and released on the Chess Records subsidiary Checker Records in 1955. Written by Diddley, its lyrics are based on the traditional lullaby titled "Hush Little Baby", and it prominently features the Bo Diddley beat that the singer made famous. It became an immediate hit single that stayed on the R&B charts for a total of 18 weeks, 2 of those weeks at #1, and seven more weeks than its flipside. It was the first recording to introduce African rhythms into rock and roll directly by using the patted juba beat. It was Diddley's first recording and his first hit single. The song is featured on many of Diddley's compilation albums including His Best.
I'm from Rolling Stone is a MTV reality television show directed by Norman Green. It began airing in January 2007 and was planned for ten episodes. Six aspiring music journalists were given the summer internships in hopes of getting a contributing editor position at Rolling Stone magazine.
"Susie Q" is a song by musician Dale Hawkins recorded late in the rockabilly era in 1957. He wrote it with bandmate Robert Chaisson, but when released, Stan Lewis, the owner of Jewel/Paula Records and whose daughter Susan was the inspiration for the song, and Eleanor Broadwater, the wife of Nashville DJ Gene Nobles, were credited as co-writers to give them shares of the royalties.
Lennon Remembers is a book by Rolling Stone magazine co-founder and editor Jann Wenner that was published in 1971. 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.
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.
Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner in 1946 (age 73)